Compassion for the Destitute in San Jose

ReachGlobal reaches poor through clinic partnership

Some people in Costa Rica can easily afford health care. Others, like Maria*, can only hope and pray for it.

Temporarily without her usual domestic-help jobs, Maria, a sweet middle-aged Nicaraguan woman, lives with 16 other family members under the same roof in the La Carpio slum of San Jose, Costa Rica.

On the main street, run-down houses are crammed together and look as though they could fall apart at any moment. You can smell the pollution in the air congesting your lungs. The garbage that lies on the streets and sidewalks is embedded in the cracks.

Responding to the influx of war refugees from Nicaragua, Christ for the City International founded Clínica Cristiana more than 15 years ago. They seek to provide basic medical and dental services to people like Maria who struggle to thrive day-to-day.

“I feel good about the way they have attended me here,” Maria says. “They always attend me well when I come. It is a way of surviving around here. If this clinic wasn’t around I don’t know what we’d do.”

Volunteers at the clinic also realize the greater need for spiritual healing of the heart: ReachGlobal missionaries Cathi and Melanie pray for a distraught patient whose newly discovered medical problem may go untreated because of family lack of funds for basic care.

Maria’s world

Without the security of a monthly paycheck and legal documents, basic health care is very difficult to find.

This specific clinic, however, is helpful to the people of La Carpio because those without insurance can see a dentist or a nurse without paying a price that’s probably too expensive. Even the seemingly affordable $8 Pap test, for example, proves too steep for many patients. In such cases, it is not unusual for one of the volunteers to cover the cost.

Their overarching goal is compassion: to extend a helping hand while meeting people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

“They try to give back a little love through the medical appointments,” Maria says. “They don’t just give us this, though, as they also give us occasional talks about the Word of God.”

Cathi’s passion

Cathi, a registered nurse who partners with Clínica Cristiana, has been volunteering on Tuesdays and Fridays for the past four years.

After the initial adjustment in moving to Costa Rica, Cathi struggled to find her purpose—outside of caring for her family. In the midst of frustrated tears one day, she begged God for direction. The very next day a doctor from the clinic called, asking Cathi if she would be interested in joining their ministry.

Although shock gripped her heart as she entered the slum that first day, the women’s need for accurate information and good health care has drawn her back week after week.

“I’d say that I have a deeper appreciation for the plight of women everywhere. Just seeing how we can meet their needs—their spiritual needs as well as their emotional needs, just by being here for women who have no social support of any sort.”

Serving women in the clinic has revived Cathi’s passion for ministering to the sick and brokenhearted.

“I think there’s always room for some kind of holistic health care,” Cathi says. “I think wherever any mission agency goes, we need to address the whole person—not just the physical but the spiritual and emotional aspect. That can be done anywhere in the world, but it takes people.”

*Name has been changed to protect patient’s confidentiality.

* * * * *

  • For Cathi and staff as they serve the community of La Carpio, an area of occasional tension and unrest.
  • That the clinic will find a gynecologist experienced with colposcopy and other gynecological procedures.

The clinic is always in need of receiving blankets for newborns. It also has continual demand for 0-3 month t-shirts and hats for newborns. Contact Cathi to donate these items.



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