Service learning has become a commitment for me. It is the time for me to renew my focus on the long goal ahead of getting into and through medical school. The time to renew my commitment to restructuring my life so that I am making a difference.
Costa Rica is beautiful country, full of wonderful, friendly people. I had the experience of going these in June and July of 2013 on a service learning trip performing healthcare outreach in very poor neighborhoods. Although Costa Rica has a healthcare system, the very poor have limited access (you must have a working member in the family to qualify) and there are also many immigrants from Nicaragua who do not have access to care. Often too, people have access to be seen in a clinic, but they may not be able to afford the medication recommended. Our gratis clinics with gratis medications were always full. Seeing the simple, resolvable issues in a country like Costa Rica, which actually has a health care system, and the breakdowns in the system where the very poor are concerned reminds me of the Paul Farmer quote, which says:
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”
This simple idea permeates every individual country that I can think of, and is exacerbated to an extreme by international politics. When you put yourself into a situation where you are caring for people who are touched even on the basis that you are speaking to them as if they matter, it makes you think very seriously about what you consider to be a problem in your own life. Seeing the faces and the warmth of the people we worked with in Costa Rica has left me totally inspired, alive, and eager to return. And reminded me of what matters most.