Six Lake City residents recently returned from a visit to the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, on a medical mission of White Fields/Omega.
Debbie Chauncey, registered nurse; Janelle Wardwell, occupational and physical therapy assistant; and Janette Huff, certified nursing assistant, were among the group who worked to care for the physical and spiritual health of many Honduran citizens.
Before the trip, Huff was driving in Lake City and was rear-ended and suffered whiplash. Wardwell twisted her ankle before the trip and had to use crutches the entire time she was there.
Honduras is bordered to the south by Nicaragua and El Salvador and to the west by Guatemala. The country boasts beautiful mountains, nostalgic Mayan ruins, lush river valleys and luxurious beaches.
The capital’s name is derived from the ancient Nahuatl language and means “silver mountain.”
The three Omni Home Care employees traveled there with fellow locals Freddie Johnson, Threasa Hysell of Christ Central Ministries and Jenny Smith. The group arrived in Tegucigalpa to distribute assorted vitamins and medications.
The trip was Chauncey’s eighth time going and the first for Huff and Wardwell.
“It is such a blessing,” Huff said. “You can’t even imagine how much you get from this.”
The trip was made possible by donations. ”
Things we take for granted, like vitamins, pain relievers and antibiotics, are out of reach for so many families there,” Chauncey said.
The volunteers assisted the patients with the assistance of a Spanish-language interpreter. But the patients expressed their gratitude without the use of words.
“They must’ve hugged and kissed us like 42 times,” Chauncey said. “They are just so loving.”
She said that many of the mothers walked for miles and miles to stand in line for hours to receive medicine.
“They would dress their children in the finest they had, even it wouldn’t be considered the best here,” Chauncey said. “The mothers would push their children in first, they were so selfless and kept themselves for last.”
Usually, the mothers can only pray when their babies get sick. They simply don’t have access to proper health care.
She held up a photo of a line of people who wound around a church clinic. Often, the older children took care of the younger children to help their mothers.
Most of the people heard about the volunteers by word of mouth. The majority made the trip from poor, outlying villages. One of the most common complaints were regarding skin infections.
“It just makes you realize all you have here,” Chauncey said. “If we go to the doctor and have to wait a mere 30 minutes, we get mad; but they walked for miles in the sun and waited in line with hundreds of others for hours.”
Huff pointed a photo of her smiling with a boy with Down syndrome.
“Seeing the children with special needs was very hard for me, because there are no social services programs there to get these children the care they need,” she said.
Wardwell said that most people with special needs will live, but their quality of life will not be what it would be in the United States.
“They will live as long as they are fed, but their lack of some motor skills and communication skills will force them to be dependent on others,” she said. “Seeing people with bad arthritis and other problems was hard, because they are not receiving the care I know they need.”
After administering medicine, the volunteers hosted a nondenominational spiritual clinic.
“We helped 1,675 patients and had 250 salvations,” Chauncey said.
Each family received a Bible. In addition, the volunteers tried to give each child a piece of candy and a small toy. Some of the children had never eaten candy before and didn’t know what to do with it.
One aspect of the country that surprised Huff was the enormous gap between the rich and the poor.
“We drove by tiny shacks with dirt floors, no window or doors, just sheets hanging in the openings,” she said.
“Right next to it would be a beautiful, gated home. Usually there are rich neighborhoods and poor ones, but in Honduras they are right there together.”
The volunteers laughed together about the Honduran traffic. Often the volunteers rode alongside horses, old cars, wheezing buses, bicyclists and plenty of pedestrians on the curvy roads.
“Over there red lights don’t matter and lanes don’t exist, it is like a free-for-all,” Chauncey said.
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.