Last year Project Alajuelita in Costa Rica provided medical services to 2,621 patients. Logan Stiegman, our Global Health Volunteer Program Manager, got to see how having an impact in the community goes beyond just a number.
having a powerful effect on a situation or person.
Traffic was pretty awful. Travel from our homestay in Santa Ana took a lot longer than the previous day and when we pulled up I could see several families gathered in the waiting room. I immediately felt a sense of guilt for making them wait past their early appointment times.
Our group ushered in and we took our posts for the day at our respective clinic stations; today I was on waiting room. Me and my volunteer buddy for the week sat at the table and pulled up the scheduled appointments and got to work calling people over, taking height, weight, blood pressure, asking the necessary questions. We worked well together and things were moving, but not fast enough for my satisfaction. I looked up to assess the feelings of the room (disgruntled, I assumed) and was surprised by what I saw.
Families were laughing and playing with their kids and chatting and smiling. They did not have one ounce of resentment or impatience. This moment struck me during my week in Costa Rica. With our counterpart system in the US, patients often get upset when slightly inconvenienced or feel slighted by a longer wait than they expected. But, the lovely folks of the Alajuelita community showed nothing but appreciation and kindness in these moments.
It’s kind of amazing how small a moment can make such an impact on one’s perspective. As I continued on that day and the days following, I took time to appreciate my experience and take in the Pura Vida culture of Costa Rica. This moment gave me the insight to slow down and focus on quality care through getting to know each person and building a relationship with them. Getting hands on experience in the clinic while also getting to know such lovely, vibrant people was an unforgettable experience that can’t compare. Although short, this journey is one that has left a mark on my life and one I want to share with others.
There are so many stories like mine out there from FIMRC volunteers. When you put these together, you can truly see the impact that FIMRC has on the populations we serve, as well as FIMRC volunteers. By building programs and initiatives uniquely with each community, our impact is creating reliable and consistent care. For 15 years, our impact has been giving this care to populations that don’t have access or the resources they need and we hope to continue making an impact on our communities and our volunteers for years to come.
If you are looking for an unforgettable volunteer experience, consider joining our programs abroad! Learn more about making an ethical impact at fimrc.org/volunteer.