medical mission to Costa Rica/ Nicaragua

Hey OPMers, haven't posted in a while but wanted to share an incredibly cool experience that I had last month. Someone had posted a linked to an international volunteer organization that hosted medical missions so I checked it out and found a perfect trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. (
We all flew into San Jose, Costa Rica for two weeks of who knows what. There were 11 pre-med people, 6 pre-vet, and 1 pre-dent (whose 70+ year old dad is a retired dentist who joined us on our trip). We also had one American MD and a couple of translators.
We stayed at a public clinic for the first night. It was closed to try to put pressure on the government to dedicate more money to health care. The next day we loaded into a bus and headed into rural Costa Rica. As the roads got smaller and muddier we transferred to the backs of old 4X4 trucks. After a couple of kidney numbing hours we arrived at a farm that also served as the local church. We settled in and setup our clinic in a wall less building next to the barn. (Actually the building served as the church which is where I slept on two church pews put together) Each government requires that there is a local doctor and dentist present so we met them and went to work. We had about 10 duffle bags filled with donated meds. Off we went…lines of folks to see us…some who have never seen a health care person in their entire lives…We set up a generator for the dentists who, aside from pulling rotting teeth, were drilling out cavities and making fillings. The vet students went to local farms to do their thing and we saw all sorts of different ailments, mostly problems associated with poor diet and unsanitary living conditions…worms, giardia and all sorts of other parasites. So many sick children…We held clinic for a day and half and the farmer showed many natural medicines that he was growing on his land.
For the next two weeks we travelled north into Nicaragua. We travelled by small boats on a crocodile and shark infested waters into Nicaragua while watching the monkeys play in the trees. We travelled into very rural Nicaragua on foot and horseback and set up clinic in a one room schoolhouse. We stopped in at an orphanage on an island with three active volcanos. Our last clinic was held in a town north of the capital of Nicaragua. It was is in a cinderblock structure without a floor. About halfway through the day I realized that our host and his wife and three kids plus a cousin and an uncle lived in the back room…I would venture to say that some Americans wouldn't even be comfortable parking their cars in this building!
Of course there are many more stories from this trip but this getting long. We flew out changed for life. We ate rice and beans for two weeks. We saw poverty in ways that I never imagined. Who's more impoverished though? Americans with their huge debts and impoverished souls or South Americans with little money but great sense of community, know what's important and who take care of their elders? These are hardworking people living a beautiful, simple life. In many ways I envy them.
Easily one of the greatest experiences of my life. I definitely want to dedicate more of my time providing health care to people who have little or none. I strongly encouraged everyone here to spend two weeks on trip of this sort. Best wishes.

Wow. Very cool.

That is so cool!! I'm envious. I hope to someday have the chance to do something similar.
Congratulations on what must have been a rewarding and life changing experience.

Thanks for the post! What an amazing experience! Either as a medical student or in residency, I would love to practice overseas for at least 6-12 months so I could see another side of medicine. I think it would really stretch my abilities in a way I couldn't get here. I'll have to check out your web link too. Thanks for sharing your story.