FIMRC (Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children) was born in Costa Rica. Well, to be honest FIMRC was born as the idea of then medical student Vik and was funded by selling beers at Georgetown basketball games. But nevertheless, the first FIMRC clinic was in the barrio La Alajuelita in San José, Costa Rica. It’s funny the story that Vik tells about his graduation. At his graduation from medical school Vik received an award for his creation of an NGO (Non-governmental organization) and it was then that his parents learned that he had created an international medical relief program!
The clinic where we volunteer has been in its present location for 4 years, however the FIMRC project has been running for 7 years in La Alajuelita. Their original location became too dangerous and had to move to a more secure location in the barrio. The clinic San Felipe sits in a valley surrounded by mountains with gorgeous orange foliage. The clinic is small and houses a doctor, a volunteer lawyer who helps as the front desk taking blood pressures and basic stats, a student volunteer who coordinates public health campaigns in the clinic and a clinical psychologist. The Costa Rican clinic is the only one of all FIMRC clinics that has an in house psychologist. The work that the psychologist Tatiana does is hugely important and will be taken up more in detail in a separate blog.
Project San Felipe services a large population of Nicaraguan immigrants (undocumented) who have taken up squatter residences on the outskirts of San José. The populations of immigrants are extremely poor even in this fairly affluent country. Many work as domestic servants in nearby middle and wealthy class homes. The population in La Alajuelita ranges from around 100,000 to 125,000 persons. The clinic sees children and some adults every morning and can accommodate up to 15 clients a morning, as there is only one doctor. Dr. Reinhart Stedom is Costa Rica and has worked in the clinic for the past 4 years and enjoys working with the immigrant community. Reinhart is a young, very friendly doctor with bright green eyes and palabras muy cariñoso para los niños (very kind loving words for the children). The clinic operates in a very friendly manner with all of the community; it’s just a joy to see it in action. The friendliness of the clinic should not belie the real reason they are there. This community of Nicaraguans is a population of peoples with dire circumstance with at times very disturbing situations. These people are undocumented in Costa Rica, escaping extreme poverty in Nicaragua, often exchanging it for a different style of poverty; Poverty in the midst of wealth.