FIRMC is the Foundation for the International Medical Relief for Children, located in Philadelphia, Penn. FIMRC operates in no less than 7 countries around the world offering free medical care for children and mothers. Roger WIlliams University's partnership with FIMRC under the leadership of Professors Kerri Warren (Biology and Pubic Health) and Autumn Quezada-Grant (History) allows our students to do volunteer work through service-learning. Professors Warren and Quezada-Grant help to facilitate a well-rounded learning experience through ethnical practices in partnership with local leaders in FIMRC assissted communities. This volunteer experience offers students a very unique avenue through which to think about Public Health and Social Justice on the ground in countries such as the Domincan Republic, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and El Salvador.
Here is an example of our most recent trip from Spring Break 2014.
Professor Autumn Quezada-Grant, the co-advisor for the FIMRC Chapter at RWU traveled with 13 students to the southwestern coast of Nicaragua to work in the Department of Tola, which comprises about 5 different communities. Our students worked through a FIMRC clinic that partnered locally with a Nicaraguan Health Post. FIRMC projects around the world are sustained through volunteer fees which help pay a site manager as well as to pay the ways of local community leaders in outreach. Fees also are used to help fund the purchasing of health supplies and medicines.
The partnership between the FIMRC Clinic and the Nicaraguan Health Post benefits both operations. Public Health in Nicaragua is poorly funded and supplied by the Ministry of Health. FIMRC’s support in the Department of Tola helps provide much needed resources to the health post. To be specific, the FIMRC clinic provides a pediatrician (a specialist) for local children at no cost. For people who earn $2.00 a day on average, the cost of a specialist even under the public health structure ($20.00) is enormous. Specialists (like pediatricians) are over an hour away and most of the people in the Department of Tola do not have access to transportation. FIMRC helps to ease this obstacle by providing and covering the cost of pediatric care twice a week. In addition, the FIMRC clinic shares is supply of OTC medicines with the Health Post. This proves vital to the operation of the Health Post. FIMRC also funds a local health education promotor to do school visits every week to speak to children about health issues related to their lives. The FIMRC clinic also runs a diabetic program that helps to monitor and educate over 150 diabetics in the area. Lastly, the FIMRC clinic funds a local nurse to do home maturity visits to promote health education about pregnancy and child birth. The population in Tola is very conservative an most women refuse to publicly speak about women’s health. More over, the Health Post does not provide health education. FIMRC helps to fill a number of local gaps in the Nicaraguan Public Health System. Volunteers work along side local leaders in all of these programs. Our RWU students shadowed nurses, spoke in classrooms giving public health talks in Spanish and in the homes of pregnant mothers.
The Alternative Spring Break experience is a growing trend on campus offering students life changing opportunities. FIMRC, along side my co-advisor Professor Kerri Warren and our supporters such as Nancy Soukup who traveled with our Dominican Republic group, is a leader on campus in offering valuable life experiences to our students.
We would like to thank the William T. Morris Foundation for it’s generous grant of $5,000 which helped to cover travel costs for our students. Supporting such endeavors makes a difference in the lives of all participants.