Lauren's Peace Corps Experience in Honduras

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed and experiences described in this travelogue are mine personally. Nothing written here should be interpreted as official or unofficial Peace Corps literature or as sanctioned by the Peace Corps or the U.S. government. I have chosen to write about my experience online in order to update family and friends; I am earning no money whatsoever from this endeavor. Please do not copy or forward any of these contents without my permission.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

University of Maine group and Medical Brigade

Hello everyone! It has been a couple of very crazy busy weeks for me and it's not expected to slow down since Rachel, Tim, Sarah, Brian and Heather are coming this Friday to Honduras. Wow, I don't know if I can take all of this business after so many months of relaxation.

Last Thursday a group of almost 30 students came from the University of Maine to Dulce Nombre. I had told you that we had been running around like crazy getting ready for them. Well they got here safe and sound and very pale and tired and we got them all put in with their host families. I got 4 girls, Becca, Rebecca, Ashley and Lindsey. The first night we had the book presentation - it was a hit. It went perfectly. About a hundred invited guests showed up and were seated around tables. We had several paintings by local artists displayed, bookshelves and tabletops full of books and games the students brought for Dulce Nombre, pictures of the Library committee activities blown up on the wall, pine needles spread over the floor as is the custom, a live musical group. They showed powerpoint presentation of the last year's activities, part of a video made by a Santa Rosa news team, a folk dance by the high school kids (where they grabbed our gringo guests at the end to dance as well). They had a type of book chat up front where the Profe (the author of the Dulce Nombre book) and the director of the Spanish department of Maine and the book's student editors asking each other questions about the process of creating the book. The book itself is great, I'll bring some home in May - full of recipes, history, stores, legends, poems, and songs of Dulce Nombre, in both Spanish and English. The director from Maine revealed they had raised $2000 dollars for the library, a big surprise. Everyone was emotional. Afterwords we ate and danced of course, it was a blast.

The students' second day in Dulce was spent doing little fun workshops in the school and high school, such as art, theater, juggling, English, balloon animals, story time, games, and jewelry making. The kids loved it. A few of the Maine people tried stilt walking, with the help of our youth group who learned it last year. On Saturday morning they went to a Molienda in the small aldea of Dulce Nombre called Candelaria, which is where they turn sugar cane into "dulce", which is often used in place of sugar in coffee or homemade candy, and more often used to make Flor de CaƱa rum in the distilleries.

I was by this time exhausted but didn't have time to rest after the students left for Santa Rosa because I promised Bita, the post office lady I always hang out with, that I would go with her to San Pedro Sula to see a medical brigade of hand specialists that were coming, as she has a problem with carpal tunnel syndrome in both of her hands, which my dad diagnosed in December. Sunday morning we got to the hospital at 5:30 am to wait for the American doctors. These doctors pay their way to come on their vacation, a great thing, to help poor Hondurans, many children, with medical procedures they couldn't otherwise afford. It was chaos though. A ton of people arrived, which was surprising because they all had some kind of hand or arm problem or wouldn't think there would be that many. Well since Bita had never been a patient there before she didn't have an appointment already set up and so was near the end of the list. So, I got myself inside and offered to help translate for the doctors, with ulterior motives. I was paired up with a lady doctor who didn't speak Spanish. The other doctor was a cuban american, very nice, and had come the year before. Ironically they were from Maine as well. Sunday they were just doing consultations, and setting up the week's surgeries. After an hour or so of helping translate I mentioned that I had a friend out their waiting and asked if they could please see her...the doctor said of couse, and she came in, and they agreed with my dad's diagnosis and set her up for surgery on Tuesday. I am glad I went with Bita because I am not sure she would have gotten an appointment otherwise...they were understandably giving preference to children. You would not believe the things I say...a little girl with a lifeless hand because a drunk guy was shooting his gun int he air one night and shot her, an adorable 1 1/2 year old boy born with only one finger on each arm (no thumb), many machete attacks and accidents and car accidents where the arm was damaged and because of lack of immediate care, the hands were useless and unable to be fixed a year or more later. We really need to appreciate our health care and quality of doctors in the states...although it's not a perfect system, we really are lucky.

Well now I am back in Dulce. The Maine students, still in Santa Rosa, are coming tomorrow and Thursday to make 2 stoves and they are paying for 2 more to be made after they leave. I brought back the materials yesterday and am going to go talk to Reina right now to see if she's picked out the families to benefit. Hopefully after seeing the process and the need for these stoves the university will want to help contribute more in the future to the project.