Thank you so much for taking time to look at our blog! We are a group of edical students who are passionate about training and in underserved areas. This January and February, we are in Peru, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica internationally as well as locally in Flint and Lansing completing volunteer service, rotating in hospitals and clinics, and learning about international medicine and local underserved health care. We appreciate any time you take to read our reflections and any donations you might offer.

Please click the “Donate” link on the side for more details on how to give directly to these communities.

Sunday, February 28

Alcoholism & Cloud Forests


Part of our project here in Costa Rica, which was mentioned in a previous post was to develop a curriculum for the "charlas" and talks that the clinic will discuss with the community as a part of their health education outreach. We dedicated the month of February to Addictions and Vices. This past Wednesday, we went to the local soup kitchen to talk to the women about Alcoholism and the effects of binge drinking. The group is SUPER interactive so we try to come up with fun ways to teach them important information. 
This week we played "Spin the Bottle" in Spanish known as "Gire la Botella" with questions and facts related to alcohol use and abuse. This brings me to one major learning point that I realized this week: it is hard and almost impossible to teach or explain to a person or group of people that they cannot or must not do  a certain behavior. We were reminded by many of the people we work with that these women come from families where drinking alcohol or smoking is just what they do. What is important is that we remember to focus our efforts on moderation and reminders of the affects instead of preaching "Do Not Do ___" or "You must completely quit___". 

The rules were simple: Each person had a chance to spin the bottle and the color they landed on would correspond to a pre-written question or true-or-false statement written on that color of colored paper. 

As many of our charlas go, questions sparked discussion and the ladies delved into stories of their past, questions about family members, or would share statements to just relay that they understand alcoholism and the effects of binge drinking. 

One of the ladies sharing a personal story about a family member who struggles with alcoholism and how she dealt and continues to deal with it. 

More of the ladies conversing. Often times children of the women are around for the discussion and enjoy participating and learning about the important topics, no matter the sometimes sensitive nature of the conversations surrounding such topics. 

Andrea reading off one of the "Cierto o falso?" True/False questions during the game.

We ended our session doing some yoga with one of the volunteers Claire! 

We measure the level of success of our charlas by the level of participation. We had almost every woman involved in discussion by sharing stories or even attempting to answer the trivia questions. We like to think that the interactive nature of the activities we bring fosters this kind of environment. The ladies exhibited more understanding of the effects of alcohol use on your mind and body and their level of excitement to participate makes us feel that this was a successful charla! 

... & Cloud Forests

That weekend, the #treschicasinrica went to explore The Monteverde Cloud Forest located in  the Cordillera de TilarĂ¡n (mountain range) within the Puntarenas and Alajuela provinces. The reserve consists of more than 26,000 acres of cloud forest.  This  natural attraction has very high biodiversity with the most orchid species in one place as well as hundreds of different types of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. 

The reserve has several trails and the trails connect in certain points. Some  trails are longer  or more difficult than others and may feature bridges, waterfalls, a different type of path that involves more intense hiking. The weather was constantly changing- there would be drizzle or rain one moment and the next moment we would see the sun breaking through an opening in the trees. 

Map of the Reserve

The location of the forest being at such a high altitude (4,662 ft above sea level to be exact) allows it to be high enough to have clouds and moisture-filled fog permeating throughout the forest at all times. We learned that this helps nourish the ecosystem that live within the forest and sustain all life in it. 

Costa Ricans pride themselves on living in a country that puts so much money, energy, and time into preserving aspects of the country's natural beautiful. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is looked at largely as a tourist attraction, but little is done to alter the reserve and there are many native Costa Ricans who come to visit the forest, in addition to the medley of Europeans, Americans, and South Americans of course. 

Working at the clinic during the week and doing talks with the ladies at the soup kitchen gives us the chance to learn directly from the people of here on a close and personal basis. We get snippets of  the way that so many people's lives work on a day-to-day basis and how they handle things that are thrown at them and can add confusion and complexity to their daily routine and especially their health. The weekends are nice for us to explore the country when we can, and reflect on the stories and situations we have been involved in that week. We get to learn more about Costa Rica and the history people that reside in this country but we also get to see the dynamics of Costa Rican life and culture in a non-acute setting. 

We hope you enjoyed this blog post!

Pura Vida,


No comments:

Post a Comment