Students and staff from UT Tyler and Tyler Junior College are helping people in the northern rainforest of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. In the village of Dos Rios this week healthcare was the hot topic.
Much like ongoing issues in the United States, the people of Dos Rios have been going through a bitter political battle about healthcare. They said it sometimes overshadows peoples' actual medical needs.
Once a week the people of Dos Rios--and the communities around it--line up for the doctor. This week Shirley Quesada Rodriguez decided it was worth the wait.
"She has a high fever and she came over here to see if they could give her something," a translator said.
The translator said Rodriguez hates KNOWING quick medical help is a mere dream six days a week.
"If they have an emergency in between time they have to go very far away," the translator said. "But she says at least they have this, and the rest of the week they hope that they don't get sick."
AS Rodriguez waited, students from TJC and UT Tyler were putting the finishing touches on a new paint job. They've already replaced the roof. The exterior walls are next on the to-do list.
"Without the help of the students from Tyler, it would be impossible for [us] to maintain the building," Dos Rios Medical Committee member Martha Gutierrez said via translator.
Doctor Jose Pablo Jiminez is also grateful for the help from Tyler. Without it, he said he wouldn't have a place to work on the one day a week the government lets him do it.
During this visit he consulted with Tyler family doctor Stephanie Eijsink. They both gave speeches at the local school, including one warning against tobacco use and the money it wastes.
"I was very impressed with the Costa Rican students because when we asked them what they would spend their money on, instead of saying toys or vacations they all talked about their education or buying computers," Eijsink said.
Together the East Texas team is spreading hope, and maybe even good health.
"She wants to give thanks for all that Tyler has done for this town," Rodriguez' translator said. "She says because of everybody coming here, their situation will be out there and then maybe they will get more medical help in here."
The people of Dos Rios also held a presentation at the local high school in which they gave the volunteers from Tyler homemade keys to their city.