What is your favorite volunteer abroad memory?
My favorite volunteer memory abroad is really a collection of memories about the time that I have spent living in a rural community. Prior to FIMRC, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador and lived with a host family for the duration of my service. The memories that we made together - working in the community, cooking Salvadoran food over the fire, swaying in the hammock having long conversations, hiking through the community to make house visits, making a lot of mistakes with my Spanish - they all come together to be my best memories from volunteering. The focus on building relationships and a culture of togetherness truly impacted me and continues to influence my work today.
What does the future hold for FIMRC - any exciting new programs to share?
FIMRC has been growing at such a fast pace over the past couple of years (and really the last decade). Not only have we been working to expand and improve programs in the current countries where we work, but we are also launching programs in new geographies. In 2015, we expanded to the Philippines where we partner with the local government and University of Philippines College of Medicine working with an entire municipality. That is a huge growth step for us, but we aren't stopping there. I'm about to share a secret here, but in 2016, we are also expanding to Ecuador! We are in the process of site development now, and can't wait to launch that program in the upcoming months.
What's your favorite ethnic dish?
I don't think that I could possibly nail down one favorite ethnic dish, but I have to tell you, when I travel to India, I can't stop eating the food! I absolutely love everything that I eat there. The food is so full of flavor and really appeals to the senses. The first time I traveled to India, I got off the plane and our FIMRC driver took me to a little shop for lunch. I wasn't sure exactly what I had ordered, but it was delicious - and that's what I say about every plate of food I eat in India!
What unique qualities does your company possess?
Something that really sets FIMRC apart from other volunteer organizations is our commitment to the community. I always say that we are a healthcare organization focused on community development that also accepts volunteers. It makes for a truly unique experience for the volunteer because we work in the community year-round with local staff.
Volunteers participate in our programs and make a lasting impact because we don't come and go - we are truly committed to the people and seeing improved health in the communities where we work.
We take time and effort to build out programs that meet the needs of the community, then work volunteers into the existing programs to ensure sustainable change. There is a huge focus on responsible volunteering these days - and I think that's something that we really do well!