This summer I undertook the adventure of travelling to Honduras with the charity ‘Global Brigades’ to provide primary healthcare to the rural communities who have little or no access to medical care. Whilst out there we partnered with Oregon State University, combining our forces to help deliver the best care possible. Whilst the flight over was rather daunting as I was alone and only vaguely knew three other people embarking on the brigade, I soon fell into a group of wonderful people who I will stay friends with for life.
For the medical brigade we travelled to the community of Loz Izotes, a daily 6 hour round trip from our compound. Here, we set up a mobile clinic in the local school which had triage, consultation, optometry, dental, gynaecology and pharmacy stations. My most memorable patient was a 16-year old boy who had -9 vision in each eye, he was severely short-sighted. After a long search, I managed to find a pair that worked for him and he could see for the first time in years. His family came from extreme poverty and they’d have never been able to afford the prescription. Next we embarked on a water brigade. We went to a rural community who were drinking water out of a dirty stream that we literally drove over to reach them. It was evident from the medical brigade that a lot of the health issues that persist are due to drinking dirty water, however, they don’t have a choice. The people in this community are earning the equivalent of $3 a day for their entire family to live off. We helped by digging trenches for pipes to be laid to the new houses that were being built. The public health brigade began with the school singing their national anthem to us. They asked us to sing our national anthem which was interesting as the majority of volunteers were from Oregon State University… We worked with a man called Ruben who was 74 and living alone in what was essentially a shack. After finishing the station, we presented Ruben with a bag of simple items he could not afford and a framed photo us all. He was so overwhelmed with emotion he couldn’t speak. Although I embarked on this brigade with a greater interest in the medical side, my experience with Ruben and his community will forever stay with me.
Not only did I fall in love with the Honduran locals who greeted us warmly and were so grateful for our help, but I also fell for the country too. Honduras is painted as a dangerous country to avoid and, whilst the central city can be dangerous, the rural areas that we were working in were simply beautiful and I did not feel unsafe at any point. If the opportunity ever arises for you to visit, please don’t hesitate to go.