My name is Eustace and I volunteered with IVHQ last month on a healthcare mission. First off, I will say, I was a little nervous upon arrival as this was my first time doing something of this nature. However, the moment I spotted the Yellow flag with the smiley face I suddenly became overwhelmed with this great feeling of excitement. My volunteer mission had begun.
Although, my driver and I could not communicate due to the language barrier she still greeted me warmly. I was then transported to the Maximo HQ where I met all the staff who were very nice. The next step was to complete the orientation. This provided me with all the information I needed to know about what to expect on my trip. At the end of my orientation I felt fully prepared for the week ahead of me.
A Maximo program leader and I then made our way over to the elderly home I would be volunteering at for a quick tour and introduction to the staff. He was trilingual and very familiar with Costa Rica so he was very informative when I asked questions. The bus ride to Cartago was approximately 45 minutes so I had ample time to ask numerous questions. I learned the route I would be taking to get to and fro the home and also got to meet some of the patients I would help care for. I couldn't believe it was still just day one as I felt like I had already been here for multiple days. The locals are very friendly and will always greet you warmly.
After the tour of the home, we returned to the Maximo HQ where I got my schedule for the week and was then transported to my host home. This is where I met my mama tica. Although her english was not that good her son, who was bilingual, helped to bridge the gap. My Mama tica made my brief stay in Costa Rica a memorable one. At the end of the trip, I felt like I gained another family. Every morning, she would check in on us to make sure we were up and at dinner we shared stories about our cultures, childhoods, and a variety of other topics.
The time I spent volunteering at the elderly home helped me to fulfill all my goals for the trip. I learned a lot about patient care and got to interact with the patients who were always happy to spend time and share their stories. One tip I will give you is be prepared to possibly take frigid showers for the duration of your stay. It's a small adjustment but you get used to it after a while. Also, one of my childhood friends took the trip with me so in our down time we went on mini adventures through San Jose and took the bus to Jaco on the weekend. I suggest if this is your first time you get one of your friends to take the trip with you. This will help to ease any unnerving feelings you may have knowing that you have the support of your friends.