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Volunteer Testimonials

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Jamie Lehmond: Community Health in Rural Clinics in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Atenas, Costa Rica  |  Oct 25, 2011
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 Go for it, you will not regret it. 

Jamie Lehmond is a 30 year old Paramedic from Canada who wanted to put her own skills to use in a foreign country. By joining Kaya, she found the perfect project for her skills and spent a fantastic 2 weeks in Costa Rica. 

Tell us about your experiences with Kaya (sign up process, preparation) - The sign up process was very simple. I submitted my letter of interest and within a few days I had a representative call me. I most certainly appreciated getting a phone call and to have the representative on a one on one to discuss the various projects that would be suitable for me and my experience and interest. It took only a few days for them to find me a placement and less then a week to get all the forms filled out (this could have taken less time had I been more efficient).

Tell us what made you chose that particular project/country? - I chose the Community Health Outreach project because it fell into my line of work. I knew I wanted to use my skills as a paramedic and pay it forward. My second reason for choosing Costa Rica is because I really wanted to learn the Spanish language, so I accomplished two goals in one go.

Tell us about your experience in your homestay accommodation - I am 30 years old and have travelled to various parts of the world...but I have to say the initial arrival to my homestay was a little intimidating. I would like to mention however that when I got off the plane there was a representative waiting for me at the airport and I got a private ride to my homestay. The hour ride to my home the lady who picked me up spoke Spanish the whole way to the house, it was at this point where I realized I should have studied a little more Spanish before I left Canada. My host family was wonderful, but they spoke no English at all, I wish they spoke English so I could tell them more but the good thing about that is I was forced to speak Spanish and at the end of my three weeks I was nearly fluent in Spanish! My host mom made me all three meals and did my laundry once a week – they were very pleasant people. 

Tell us about your role in your project - My role was Paramedic/ Physician Assistant. I was expected to do as little or as much as I liked. The clinic I was based out of was of middle class people, it was not a free clinic. They allowed me the freedom to practice all of my knowledge and skills learned in Canada. We had many discussions where I learned how they do things different there. We did house calls with treat and release protocols. There are many Americans and English speaking clients, I was useful it translating from English to Spanish.

What were you most worried about before you came? - I was worried that I gave my money and put trust into an organization that I knew very little about. I was worried that I would arrive and no one would be at the airport to pick me up.

What have you been surprised by during your stay? - How organized everything was. The Spanish classes, dance classes, cooking classes were all planned out for me. I was also shocked to meet so many other volunteers that were working in different organizations. 

What has been the highlight of your trip? - The Spanish classes, one on one, I learned a lot.

What has been a volunteer mean to you (versus just visiting as a tourist)? - It was much more fulfilling to travel and help others at the same time. It was interesting to have a family while I was there, it also forces you to travel the road less travelled where there are fewer tourists, putting you in a situation where you have to communicate in their language. It was truly one of my favourite travel experiences.

How has this experience affected you? -  I hope from now on to do some volunteering on every trip I take.

What would you say to others thinking about taking part in a volunteer project? - Go for it, you will not regret it.

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