VOLUNTEER HEALTHCARE &MEDICINE PROJECT IN COSTA RICA
INTRODUCTION COSTA RICA HEALTHCARE AND MEDICINE
Students are often forced to attend in shifts for a maximum of 3 hours per day Social changes in Costa Rica have changed the realities and challenges in health care for many members of the population. As the population is growing older, and immigration has increased from neighboring countries, there’s an increased need for education and outreach to create better health outcomes for all. Your work in The KIVOLEX Global Health Project will address global health needs across the population, from providing care to the older & wiser to providing education to girls & women across the community. Your efforts to focus on the social determinants of health will provide benefits for years to come for those most in need of support
Guanacaste daycare centers and schools are often tasked to provide nutrition and primary health care support to their children, but the facilities are often in disrepair and lack the necessary resources. Many families in the region struggle to provide nutritious food at home so KIVOLEX volunteers create school gardens to educate children and parents on healthy eating habits. Children also lack basic access to dental care and vision screenings. As such, KIVOLEX volunteers form groups to implement dental and vision clinics at schools with the support of our local staff and healthcare professionals. Through vision and dental campaigns, KIVOLEX volunteers provide tangible resources such as prescription eyeglasses and dental hygiene supplies that these children may otherwise not have access to.
HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL VOLUNTEERING IN COSTA RICA
The Constitution of Costa Rica recognizes the right to health through its recognition of the right
to life. The General Health Act of 1973 defines public health as a public asset and specifies that it
is the role of the State to ensure that it is provided through the health-care system, which
provides health services, water and sanitation. Health services are delivered through the public
and private sectors. The public sector is dominated by the Costa Rican Social Security
Administration (CCSS), an autonomous institution responsible for the financing, purchase and
provision of individual, unlimited services without co-payments. The CCSS is funded through
contributions from beneficiaries, employers and the State, and administers three regimes:
sickness and maternity insurance; disability, old-age and life insurance; and the non-contributory
system. It also provides services in its own facilities or those under contracts in the private sector
through management agreements. The private sector comprises a wide network of outpatient
and special services providers that are financed by out-of-pocket payments and private
insurance premiums. As the directing entity of the system, the Ministry of Health is tasked with
policy direction, health regulation, and the planning of research and technology development. It
oversees institutions such as the Centres for Education and Nutrition (CEN), Children’s Centres
for Food and Nutrition (CINAI), the Institute for Alcoholism and Pharmacotherapy (IAFA) and the
Costa Rican Institute for Research and Education on Nutrition and Health (INCIENSA). The
National Insurance Institute is responsible for covering occupational and road-traffic risks and
for providing related care services.
Costa Rica is making significant progress towards Universal Health Coverage. It has passed
legislation to roll out health insurance nationwide. 94.4% of the population is currently covered
by the different insurance regimes.
The country recognizes the weaknesses of the Ministry of Health’s governance function, which
are due to (i) organizational, monitoring and evaluation problems, inadequate demarcation of
functions and lack of coordination with the CCSS; (ii) effective access to health services, since the
service provision model does not fully meet the needs and expectations of the population. In
addition, there are issues with equity, quality and timeliness, and the country still needs to adapt
to the new demographic profile. There is also inadequate care for people with problems caused
by psychoactive substance abuse.
VOICE FROM COSTA RICA COMMUNITY
“Volunteers trust our students, respect their disability, but also recognize them as people who have their own goals and desires for the future. The impact has been very positive.”
“KIVOLEX volunteers have helped us complete projects that would have otherwise been abandoned.”
“Our community has learned so much about other cultures, and our own culture has been enriched as a result.”
CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN COSTA RICA
MAKE COSTA RICAN CHOCOLATE
What’s better than chocolate? How about creating your own Costa Rican blend of chocolates? As you explore the delicious origins of this world-famous bean, you’ll enjoy a backdrop of lush landscapes dotted with mango and cashew trees.
PRACTICE YOUR SPANISH
Whether your knowledge of the Spanish language starts and ends with “hola” or you’re a fluent speaker, there’s a twice-weekly Spanish lesson that’s right for you! Taught by our KIVOLEX staff at the Home-Base, each level targets specific language goals based on your abilities. From the basics – donde está el baño? – to local Costa Rican slang to help you connect with the neighborhood kids, we’ve got you covered.
HOWL WITH THE MONKEYS
You’ll probably hear the Costa Rican howler monkey before you spot it’s long tail wrapped around a rain forest branch. Learn about the efforts to protect this species against threats of deforestation as you learn about what the forests of Costa Rica offer to a variety of species.
EXPLORE THE FOLKLORE OF SANTA CRUZ
An official city of folklore, and known for music and dance, Santa Cruz is brimming with culture and festivals. Join KIVOLEX to explore this charming town and discover the customs and traditions of the people of the Guanacaste province.
TAKE A SPIN AT A POTTER’S WHEEL
As you wander the markets of Costa Rica, you’ll be sure to see the unique Chorotega pottery of the Guanacaste province, passed down for centuries using ancient traditions and made by hand using clay pounded down by mortar and pestle. Meet with a local artisan and learn their secrets of this craft, and try your hand at your own masterpiece.
MILK A COSTA RICAN COW
Cattle ranching is the lifeblood of the Guanacaste province, and you’re likely to be stopped several times during your stay to allow ranchers to pass with their stock. Get hands on with “sabanero” culture when you visit a traditional ranch and milk your own cow. Creating yogurts, cheeses, and other milk products, these ranches offer so much more than scenes of grazing animals.
COOK COSTA RICAN CUISINE
At weekly cooking classes, prepare mouth-watering Costa Rican recipes alongside our amazing KIVOLEX cooks. With your new Spanish vocab and a tasty plate of homemade gallo pinto — traditional Costa Rican rice and black beans — you’ll have plenty to bond over.
Take a cultural dance lesson from a local Costa Rican dance choreographer renown for her lifelong dedication to the preservation of Guanacasteca culture! Don the traditional skirts, flower pins, handkerchiefs and cowboy hats as you swish and swirl on stage at the town center’s culture stage.
Learn from the experts, as a reknown local teacher and his prized pupil teach you the history and evolution of marimba music in Costa Rica, as well as the structure of the instrument and demonstrate some songs. You’ll also get to play it yourself, and participate in a duet or two!
Play with a local team at a nearby field, taking in the most popular sport of Latin America and getting to spend time with the youth of the Santa Cruz community at the same time!
FREE TIME IN COSTA RICA
VISIT A TURTLE SANCTUARY
Learn about the conservation of sea turtles and nesting in Costa Rica throughout the year, and in the months of June through August, you might get a chance to see the arribada, the migration of the olive ridley sea turtles, which takes place in only 9 locations throughout the world! Watch as new baby sea turtles hatch and make their journey to the sea, escaping predators, and see the efforts of conservation specialists in preserving this species.
ZIPLINE THROUGH RINCON DE LA VIEJA
With over 32,000 acres of pristine wildlife, you’ll sail through the treetops as you zipline through Rincon de la Vieja. Once you’ve mastered the ropes, treat yourself to a tropical smoothie as you admire the two towering volcanoes within the park borders, or take a hike through vibrant orchards brimming with birds and butterflies.
RIDE HORSES IN LA FORTUNA
Ride a horse through the foothills of the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna and explore the Arenal Volcano, one of the most active in all of Costa Rica. Next, get extreme as you rappel down some of La Fortuna’s waterfalls. For a more tranquil experience, wander the sprawling sugar cane fields on horseback, and finish the day in the famous geothermal hot springs. Now doesn’t that sound lovely?
HIKE IN MONTEVERDE
Home to one of the world’s premier cloud forests, Monteverde invites you to indulge your inner nature-lover. Hike through clouds on platforms suspended in the treetops. Enjoy a unique glimpse into a rare and diverse ecosystem, including the nearly 500 species of wild orchids housed at a nearby orchid farm.
GO FRESH AT A FARMER’S MARKET
Every Saturday, farmers from across the Guanacaste province come together at the Tamarindo Farmer’s Market, where you can explore a wide variety of tropical fruits and maybe try a few new tastes, like carambola or soursop. Once you’ve had your fill of passion fruit juice, head over to the nearby beach for a perfectly relaxing afternoon in the sun.
EXPERIENCE A BREATHTAKING SUNSET
Part of the magic of living on the shores of the Pacific coast is experiencing the breathtaking sunsets that take place as the markets begin to close and evening begins in this Costa Rican community. Join with your fellow volunteers to experience the natural beauty of a Costa Rican sunset. And don’t forget that camera – you’ll be sure to capture some spectacular moments!
SHARE A SMILE WITH A CROCODILE
Palo Verde National Park is bursting with wildlife, with over 250,000 birds and 15 different habitats, including dry and wet forests. As you canoe through the mangrove forests, you might even come across the 24 teeth of a crocodile grinning back at you.
HANG TEN IN THE PACIFIC
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at surfing, the warm waters of northern Costa Rica are a great place to start. Whether you’re looking to practice your skills in the Pacific waves, or have a goal of standing up on a beach break, the many beaches of the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica will be sure to inspire and amaze the your inner surf enthusiast.
HIKE A VOLCANO
Enjoy hiking the Arenal, Costa Rica’s youngest volcano and one of the top hiking destinations in the country. You get to see waterfalls and visit some of the most beautiful soothing and warm natural hot springs in the world.
SNORKEL IN THE SUN
Located at the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste, Sámara is known for its palm-lined main beach, Playa Sámara. There’s kayaking, snorkeling, ATV-ing, and an array of other activities to enjoy on the wonderful white sand or the aquamarine water.
HOME BASE ACCOMMODATIONIN COSTA RICA
Across the street from an authentic Costa Rican ranch and down a private dirt road, your Home-Base in Guanacaste is the ultimate setting for relaxation and comfort. As you stroll through mango and cashew trees in the expansive yard, catch a glimpse of majestic horses over the wooden fence. The interior reflects the natural beauty of the environment, with floor to ceiling windows in each room so you never feel far from the colorful plants that help make Costa Rica so beautiful. Enjoy large shared bedrooms, bright and spacious living areas, or hop into a comfortable hammock as you soak up the “Tico” life.
Tropical living means fresh and delicious meals at the KIVOLEX Home-Base. You’ll be able to mix Costa Rican classics of gallo pinto (rice and beans) with regional specialties like casado and empanadas. Discover soursop, starfruit, sour guava and tamarindo juices to cool down.
WORDS FROM OUR REPRESENTATIVE IN COSTA RICA
Franklin brings his passion for social development and sustainable solutions for social equity to his position as Country President with KIVOLEX. is part of the KIVOLEX team in Costa Rica as a Country President. Franklin received a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from Zamorano University in Honduras and did a study program in Sustainable Agriculture at Minnesota University. Previous to his work with KIVOLEX, he worked Global Brigades- Nicaragua and he was involved as a volunteer with non-profit organizations in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Ecuador.
Besides his work with Global Brigades and KIVOLEX, Franklin is a student of apologetics and loves to play chess.