On Wednesday, July 17, 105 Honduras Good Works Volunteers made their way to rooms at Clara Montana Retreat Center, 60 kilometers south of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This year marked my sixth time traveling to Honduras with my sons to volunteer. While we come to Honduras to serve others, I’ve found that each trip I leave having received more than I have given, because of the graciousness that is extended to us by the people of Honduras.
Honduras Good Works is a Medical Brigade that has been coming to the same region of Honduras for 15 years. Our focus is on rural villages with limited accessibility to medical care. The government provides free medical care and limited medicinal offerings, but when the clinic is a day's walk, plus a two-hour bus ride, most cannot make the effort except in extraordinary situations.
Our group is a mix of doctors, nurses, nursing students, dentists, a registered pharmacist, and lots of hands ready to help. We begin the day at 6 a.m., divide into five or six groups, and begin to trek to the village we are serving, which is anywhere from 40 minutes to 2.5 hours away.
In the villages, Hondurans are ready to embrace us. The villages we serve can have as few as 60 people or as many as 400. The intent of our groups is that all will be cared for--health issues attended to, medicine given as needed, glasses provided. All receive vitamins, shampoos, soaps, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. The free toiletries we take for granted are luxuries to the Hondurans. I am especially thankful for the HoustonPilot group who donates toiletries for us to take each year.
We care for the villagers’ health, and provide activities for the children ranging from puppets to soccer to bubbles. The atmosphere is festive outside, but can be subdued during visits with the providers. Regardless, smiles are always shared, and occasionally a prayer of encouragement. We finish each day exhausted, but our hearts are full.
By the week's end of my most recent visit, we had provided medical care to more than 2,700 patients, and spent time building a church and teaching quilting at one location. We come to Honduras with bags heavy with items to donate, and hearts a little empty, and complete our mission with the opposite—empty bags and full hearts.