On July 13, 2018, the Medical/Dental/Chiropractic Team of the Friends of Honduras departed from the San Pedro Sula International Airport for the Honduran State of Intibucá. We were a group of 24—14 from Missouri and 10 Honduran partners. This was our 8th clinical trip to Guanacaste; our 3rd to Aguacate.
The health transformation of the remote community of Guanacaste is tremendous. Our annual fluoride varnish treatments of the children’s teeth, as well as the provision of toothbrushes and toothpaste, has meant fewer caries and extractions in the pediatric population. Although food insecurity is still the norm, the poultry project and community garden have reduced the number of swollen bellies in the children—there are none! Every member of the community receives 6-12 months of vitamins. Because all of the reproductive age women receive adequate folic acid, we’ve seen a huge improvement in the health of the newborns.
We provide enough medication to manage chronic illnesses for a full year—until our return. Denia, age 8, has not had a seizure in 2 years; Seily, age 6, has had her thyroid medicine without interruption.
All day long, as we worked to care for chronic muscle pain (thank goodness for Dr. Alex Gafford, our chiropractor), joint pain (Drs. Treena Sturgeon and Michael Donovan performed numerous knee injections), and stomach upset (everyone was treated for parasites); as we treated acute illnesses like pneumonia and injuries needing sutures; as our dentist, Fabiola Zeron, provided excellent anesthetic for extractions (no screaming!), we listened to the children swinging, swinging, swinging on their new playground equipment.
Our care for the community of Aguacate is structured the same as that for Guanacaste. After three years, we do see improvement in the health of the community—but the dental health is poorer, the food vulnerability is greater, and the birth rate is higher than in Guanacaste. We still have our work to do.
In Aguacate, there have been important successes. Maria S. is having fewer seizures—this year, we increased the dose of her medication. Dr. Sturgeon made her second annual home visit to see Maria C. H., age 79, who has had a stroke. Maria is taking her aspirin and her Metoprolol and her blood pressure is better; she was sitting in the sun and smiling.
Last year, we partnered with Smile Train to help Reynaldo—a six year old resident of Aguacate who had a double cleft lip and palate. He’s doing well, and should have his final surgical repair in October.
During the course of our five days of clinical care, we had the privilege of serving about 1000 unique individuals — the word gets out about our presence, and families walk for hours (literally) to seek our services.
Caring for the poorest of the poor, in the middle of nowhere, is an extraordinary experience. Every member of our Team feels grateful for the opportunity.