Hike for Humanity is a very special ISL program which provides health services to communities of indigenous populations. H4H is an exciting and rewarding experience because we bring health services into communities which, due to difficult geographical access, have been denied those services in the past.
Our adventure begins in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, where we pack all of our luggage, medicines, and medical supplies onto a bus and drive to the Caribbean province of Limon on the Telire river. From there we cross the river in a handmade boat and load up our supplies onto a waiting truck. The truck takes us to a long suspension bridge (very exciting to cross!), where we get off and prepare to begin our hike.
The trail winds through a dense tropical forest of lush vegetation, including banana, cocoa and other types of fruit trees. We arrive two hours later at the indigenous community, where we are received by community leaders and settle into our base camp–either a school or the community’s multipurpose room. A starry night falls and the smell of local food calls us together to enjoy a delicious candlelight dinner cooked over firewood by excellent local cooks.
After an early breakfast, we begin home visits to invite people to our clinic. This gives us time to explore and immerse ourselves in a totally different culture. We begin our first clinic after lunch, meeting some of the same people we met that morning, as well as others who learned of our clinic earlier and may have walked up to five hours to be seen at the clinic.
After a hard day’s work, we all go swimming in a nearby river and enjoy the cool refreshing water until it’s time to change for dinner. After dinner we make a bonfire and gather to discuss our day, play some games, cook marshmallows, and even sing. Then it’s bedtime as exhausted, we sleep to gather energy for the next day’s adventure.
ISL Costa Rica Team Leader