As orientation ends, we are able to reflect on the amazing experiences that we have had in just one week! The lengthy orientation gave us ample opportunity to acclimate to our surroundings, both in terms of culture and climate!
We spent the first two days learning about Asociación Crear as a non-profit organization and touring their past projects in several neighborhoods of Sámara, including Cangrejal and El Torito. Crear has accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time, and we are very excited to contribute further in the next two months! Throughout orientation week, we were able to visit the after-school enrichment programs in both Sámara and El Torito, a nearby pueblo. The children here are enthusiastic and loving, making the afternoons spent with them very enjoyable. From playing fútbol in the backyard, to watercolor painting, to exchanging handmade friendship bracelets, the group loved spending time with the students!
We also visited the clinic itself, to see firsthand what restoration must be done. The clinic is certainly functional, but could surely use improvements. The earthquake that hit Sámara last year did considerable damage to the building. An entrance door cannot shut completely, and a large portion of the ceiling has cracked and caved in. The paint on the walls is dingy and faded, and the concrete is brittle and peeling. As we walked through, it was hard to imagine that this truly was a healthcare center. Its appearance so starkly differs from the clinics that we have visited in the United States. Ready access to high-quality and comprehensive healthcare is certainly something that I take for granted, and I hope that our restoration work can improve the patient experience for those in Sámara. In addition to the structural improvements, we want to beautify the exterior, make an entrance sign, and plant a garden in the front. I am very excited about the garden, as it will not only purify air but also lift patients’ spirits. We are also trying to expand and improve the waiting area for patients. From what we have heard, the community is thrilled that we are here to restore the clinic, so I hope that we live up to their expectations!
In our spare time, we were able to explore the beautiful hiking trails and beaches in and around Sámara. We did a sunrise hike to Playa Izquierda, as well as a four-hour morning hike to Punta Indio. The views were absolutely incredible and allowed us to fully experience the area in which we are working. We spend a considerable amount of free time on the beach, which is a fantastic luxury. We are very fortunate to be working in such a gorgeous area with such friendly locals, and we cannot wait to see what the next few weeks have in store!
Today is our first day of clinic restoration – wish us luck!