The World as a Workplace: Introducing the World Spine Care Clinic

This is Part 2 of a series introducing Evelina, a current Volunteer Associate in Moca, Dominican Republic. Read Part 1 here.

Learn more about Evelina’s volunteer experience, and her philosophy on giving back, below.

Evelina Elmgren and James Leonard stand in front of the Patronato Cibao de Rehabilitación after arriving in Moca, Dominican Republic.

Part 2

Moca is a small town in the north of Dominican Republic. The World Spine Care Clinic is located behind the hospital, integrated in a center of rehabilitation. The patients who visit the clinic represent all levels of income; from those who are really in need, to those in the middle class. In this position, I have been privileged to work together with chiropractors from all over the world, co-workers of the rehabilitation center and contacts from World Spine Care.

The people in the Dominican Republic are open, helpful, and positive. People are people and we are similar more than we are different, but there are some things in the culture and society that influence the overall health of the country.

The physical burden on society is evidenced in the patients that I have seen. Working and providing for families is essential for people in this society, which is why patient education – helping people help themselves – and manual therapy is even more important in under supported societies.

Dominican Republic
A family sells bananas and other fruit on the streets of Dominican Republic.

A big part of the population doesn’t have a social security blanket, so many people are working for today – and today’s work provides today’s food. For this reason, our work is critically important: we can ensure those patients who have spine pain will receive treatment, regardless of their financial situation.

All around

Apart from work I have had plenty of time for weekend trips, afternoon activities, and training. Moca is perfectly located, and you can visit everything from beaches, the capital of Santo Domingo, to the highest mountain of the country, Pico Duarte. My afternoon activities have included running, training at Roberto’s gym, Wednesday mojitos and dinner with friends. Dominicans are very social and love to drink beer, play dominoes, and dance. The social activities make you something more than just a traveler; it makes you part of the culture and gives you the opportunity to learn a new language and make friends and contacts for life.  

What have I learned?

My personal goals for the trip were to actively participate in improving the world, become fluent in Spanish and get a lot of new knowledges and experiences. Apart from that I’ve become a better listener and better at giving sharp explanations (sometimes language barriers are a good thing). I’ve started to learn how an international organization works and look forward to continue being a part of it. The World Spine Care experience has made me more grateful for what I have and has made me humbler about innate privileges and possibilities. 

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