Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children

FIMRC

About

The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of families in the developing world through innovative and self-sustainable health programs. Operating since 2002, we have grown to ten project sites in nine countries including: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Peru, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Uganda, India, Ecuador, and the Philippines. With a team of over 3,000 dedicated staff and volunteers, we assert a multidimensional strategy that includes clinical services, extensive community outreach efforts, and targeted health education programs.

What sets FIMRC apart from other organizations is our focus on sustainable community based programs and our commitment to keeping our locations open year round! For our volunteers, this translates into knowing they are contributing to ongoing programs that address current community needs as well as the flexibility to travel at any time.

Enroll now for the Summer International Health Fellowship!

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Reviews

Default avatar
Allie
10/10

Going into this medical mission trip to Uganda, I did not know what to expect. I had been hungry to travel to Uganda for many years, and when my brother found FIMRC through a google search for medical mission trips to Africa, I knew the trip was meant to be as the registration was made easy and everything seemed to just fall into place. Ultimately, I knew that my mission was to serve God and to be His hands and feet wherever He needed me to be, but with all of my friends telling me that I was going to change the world, I thought that the difference I was going to make was going to be in the lives of the locals of rural Bududa District of Uganda. I quickly learned that I was not going to change Uganda, but that God was going to use Uganda and its people to change me.
We worked in a health clinic Monday through Thursday from 9:30am until the last patient was seen. At the clinic, we checked people in, took vitals, sat in on consultations, witnessed childbirth, worked in the lab, and helped out wherever we could.
For the first weekend, we travelled to Jinja for white water rafting on the Nile River and happened upon the Sole Hope guesthouse and shoe making workshops. I was introduced to Sole Hope on the Mission Trip that my brother and I took with our youth group in high school in 2013 and have thought about it ever since. Luckily, we were able to walk right into the front gate of their compound and get a tour from the guesthouse hostess. This was such an emotional experience that only God could have arranged; after collecting donations and supplies and hosting shoe cutting parties over the past 4 years for Sole Hope, I was finally able to see where the shoes are made in person and hold a pair of the finished shoes in her hands.
We packed as much as we could into our second and last full weekend in the area: eating dinner with one of the clinic volunteers at her house, administering deworming pills and vitamin A drops during an immunization outreach at a local school, hiking Sipi Falls, attending a protestant church with one of the clinic staff members, and getting to sit down with another staff member at her house as she taught us how the coffee beans are prepared to be roasted.

As a useful tip: do not pack your peanut butter in your carry-on - TSA will throw it away.

How can this program be improved?
I think improvements could be made in communication before and during the trip to aid in transportation plans to and from the airport and excursions.
Yes, I recommend
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Kyla
8/10

Going to Nicaragua to work with FIMRC and Project Limon was not at all what I expected. There really is no way to prepare yourself for the culture shock of living with people who experience an entirely different world than what you're used to. To be a part of that world and to help those people, while remaining entirely culturally sensitive and using community leaders as stakeholders, was incredible. The work FIMRC does sets itself apart from other organizations in its specific focus on women and children in the community, and by tailoring its interventions in a way that incorporates local input and feedback to create the most sustainable and relevant programs.

The Micro Health Insurance Program was a fantastic example of this, as it was a program designed for community members experiencing extreme poverty to gain money by adhering to small but massively important health behaviors, such as having ventilation for indoor stoves and having mosquito nets covering childrens' beds. With each thing the family had on a checklist, they were given money to further improve their home. I worked directly with a family who was using some of the money to build a toilet/washroom outside of the main living area.

Outside of the clinic, life took some major adjusting to but looking back, I really miss the simplicity and true value of the family unit that I had come to love. The local family that I lived with were an incredible group of resilient, loving, strong, female-dominated people and I still speak to them today. They welcomed me as one of their own and were incredibly accommodating while managing their own daily struggles. I came to know them all individually as well as a larger family unit when I helped my host mother throw a baby shower in our home for one of her coworkers! What a fantastic cultural experience. I will admit that knowing very little Spanish when I arrived was challenging and isolating because I am a person who builds bonds through conversation. Over time though, you pick up things faster than you think you will, and somehow I still felt like part of the family with these individuals who took me into their home.

I gained valuable experience working with FIMRC with my pediatric assessment skills as interns were responsible for running the clinic on days that the pediatrician was there. As a nursing student, this will definitely improve my resume as a new grad and gives me the advantage of being able to say I provided culturally sensitive care to a group of well deserving individuals.

Overall, I have to say FIMRC and Project Limon was a life changing adventure that shaped the person I've become since and will always influence the care I provide as a practitioner going forward. For anyone wondering if this program is right for you, particularly if you study social work or any of the health professions, I'd definitely say yes!

How can this program be improved?
If there was one thing I'd have improved about the program, it's a request for more after-clinic group activities. Especially at the beginning of the trip when my Spanish was poor, it helped to have an activity to look forward to with the rest of the volunteers before heading home. I especially enjoyed the activities we organized that allowed us to experience the amazing geography that Nicaragua has to offer (i.e. beaches, cliffs, tide pools and oceans) and I just think I would have had more fun overalll if we'd done more of those things and had them included in our trip.
Yes, I recommend
Alex
10/10

Ever since a mission trip to New York in high school youth group that had a video series about missions in Africa, my sister and I longed for the day we could travel and help the cause. Christmas break of 2016 I began searching for mission trips to Africa and stumbled upon FIMRC's website. I found the SIHF and immediately began filling out the application just to check the availability. After a few days of prayer, they responded and told me there was room for me and my sister. The trip itself was amazing. We met some amazing people with whom we are still good friends who attended the fellowship with us, and connected with some amazing people in Uganda with whom I still talk to via Facebook. I learned more about healthcare and how to treat patients and gained valuable perspective about what we have (but may not really need) here in the US. I never felt that I was in danger in Uganda. The FIMRC staff were very accommodating and the local people were very nice. Every weekend we were able to take adventures around the area and see a lot of that part of the country. I would highly recommend the SIHF to anyone considering a career in international work or anyone with a desire to experience a different culture and become immersed in a different way of life.

How can this program be improved?
Give more information up front. I felt I could have known more of what to pack.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Chloe
8/10

It’s easy to get lost in choosing from the sea of global medical non-profit volunteer programs out there! But FIMRC has some fantastic qualities that distinguish this organization. I volunteered through the SIHF program in July of 2016 at FIMRC’s Project Limon in rural Nicaragua. I chose to volunteer with FIMRC because of its emphasis on sustainably improving health in some of the most underserved regions of the developing world through long-term, ground-up, and community-based efforts. I chose Nicaragua in particular for its community outreach and women's/pediatric healthcare-heavy focus. This month-long program (FIMRC also gives you a two-month option) seemed like the perfect amount of time to get immersed in the local culture, gain knowledge, and make some kind of impact in the community.

While traveling to a foreign country alone can be daunting, FIMRC makes sure to have your arrival and departure planned through and through (another reason why I was confident in choosing to volunteer with FIMRC). As a volunteer you get to stay with a local family. My host family was absolutely wonderful! They were kind and incredibly accommodating. Living with a host family is an invaluable experience that FIMRC offers its volunteers. Not only does it allow you to be immersed in the culture and customs, but it also helps minimize the distance between yourself and the community you’re volunteering in by building a direct relationship with a local family. I found that language was definitely a barrier for me more often than not, but if you put your mind to it with a willingness to try, basic communication can come easy.

The clinic was an inviting space for community members and their children. Because the clinic provides a continuity of care despite the transience of volunteers, it instills a sense of trust that is conducive to impactfully promoting health in the surrounding area. Each day of work at the clinic brought new learning opportunities and ways to apply my passion for health! This included shadowing the nurses on-site as well as the pediatrician, taking vitals, and trekking into the surrounding area to educate families and individuals one-on-one and monitor health under their various outreach programs.

Life definitely moves slowly in Nicaragua. That being said, make use of this extra time outside of working in the clinic! I found myself journaling and reading more than ever. Having this time also entices you to improve your Spanish speaking skills, hang with your fellow SIHFers, explore the surrounding area, and spend more time with your host family, from playing with the kids to helping around the home. Beach visits were frequent during my month there. Local surf beaches were conveniently located about a 15-20 minute bike ride away from the clinic. Speaking of which, we were all given our own bikes as means of transportation. I lived about a 10 minute ride down the road from the clinic. It was a great way to soak in local scenery and get to know the landscape. I never felt unsafe on the roads. Mototaxis were also a phone call away for a quick and reliable ride to where you needed to be.

If you found yourself having a difficult time, the FIMRC leaders were there to listen and support you. Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means an easy endeavor. We all experienced our own individual struggles and frustrations at many points. But it’s a humbling yet valuable part of the journey and you walk away with many lessons learned. This experience is truly what you make of it!

Yes, I recommend
Daniel
10/10

Impact: 10/10
FIMRC heavily emphasizes the idea of community inspired solutions, taking a bottom-up approach in resolving issues that are voiced by local Nicaraguans. Instead of proposing a hypothetical project in a vacuum and forcing its implementation, there is a great deal of cross talk between FIMRC volunteers and local leaders about what needs to be prioritized. While volunteering at the FIMRC clinic and shadowing pre-natal home visits, you'll quick realize how these services are necessary to the well-being of many families. You're also given the opportunity to work on your own independent project that is expected to have real, measurable outcomes in a field of your choice. As part of my SIHF trip, I was able to work with Alvaro (the physical education director of several school systems) to improve the physical education curriculum by introducing new exercises, activities, and athletic standards that we use in the U.S.

FIMRC SIHF will give you many opportunities to make a sizable impact in the Limon community. It'll be up to you to take the initiative and take ownership of your own experience.

Support: 9/10

Before coming to Nicaragua, I had an extremely basic background in Spanish and had not visited Central America before. So when I realized that I would be exclusively speaking Spanish with my host family, the community members, and patients at the clinic, I definitely felt outside of my comfort zone. But what I quickly realized was how much love and support I received from my host family and neighbors, and their commitment towards helping me better understand their customs, language, and daily lives. The FIMRC leadership and senior volunteers were also extremely helpful in getting me adjusted and being available for any issues or concerns. You'll also be surprised how closely knit your SIHF group will be within the first week. Because almost everyone will be going through the same culture shock and language barrier, you will always have someone to talk to at every point of your experience.

At the end of the day, you're expected to put yourself out there and make mistakes in order to make the most of your experience. I'm glad that SIHF was not a hand-holding experience where every outcome was predetermined and expected. But when I felt overwhelmed, there was always someone I could turn to.

Fun: 9/10

For those of you who are on your phones and laptops 24/7, prepare to leave that part of your life behind! When you're not engaging in FIMRC related activities, you'll be spending the majority of your time with your host family. Things move A LOT slower when you're just talking about life, working on your Spanish, and just chilling on a plastic lawn chair as the sun sets. There were definitely days where I felt bored out of my mind, which probably speaks more to my own reliance on mental distractions. I soon learned to appreciate and truly enjoy the amount of personal time I spent with my host family, learning more about each other's experiences and what we aspire to do. I remember helping my younger sister with her English homework while she taught me her Backstreet Boys dance for school. My host brother and I instantly connected about professional wrestling, basketball, and video games. Of course there are opportunities to have the kind of fun that we're more used to having: zip-lining on the weekends, learning how to surf and paddle board, going to clubs and bars in the city. But what I appreciated the most was adopting a lifestyle focused on reflection and human connection, away from the distractions and anxieties we normally experience.

Value: 9/10

A large majority of your funds will be used to help run the Limon clinic, as well as monetarily supporting your host family (college expenses for their children, renovating an old room in their house, etc.). With that in mind, your trip expenses are a significant part of your impact even before you come to Nicaragua. FIMRC also makes it easy to fund-raise from your friends and family, and they work closely with interested volunteers. Personally, I think the program itself is already worth the cost. Even more so considering the program's direct contribution to the community.

Safety: 9/10

Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in Central America in regards to political stability and general violence. Things to watch out for would be petty theft, undomesticated animals (wild dogs), and some instances of cat-calling. As long as you're protecting yourself (don't bring an expensive handbag to Nicaragua) and making safe decisions (traveling in groups at night, bringing a head-lamp when biking), then there's nothing to worry about.

Overall: 9.5/10

If you want a truly immersive experience that takes you outside of your comfort zone, and challenges you to jump on every opportunity, then this program is for you. You WILL make a real impact on the lives of others. You WILL experience the daily livelihoods of Nicaraguans around you, and become a part of their family. I can safely say that my FIMRC SIHF experience was a life-changing one.

Yes, I recommend

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