Honduras Mission 2013
In January I had the opportunity to travel with a group of 30 individuals on a medical / dental mission to San Pedro Sula, Honduras in Central America. Since returning I have been approached about providing a summary of our trip and thought it might be interesting for your readers to hear of our journey.
Our group included medical professionals from Baker City, Boise and one from as far away as Afghanistan, a dental team from Eastern and Central Oregon and a group of adults and junior high and high school students from Baker City. This mission has been a long time endeavor of Dr. Jon Schott and his wife Dawn, who this year, were making their 12th visit to Honduras.
We arrived in San Pedro Sula on warm and Sunday afternoon and were taken by bus to what would be our “home base” for the next week. Our first afternoon was spent in a small school complex in the heart of San Pedro, providing medical and dental care to community members, with a group of us helping to clean up and paint several of the classrooms. Four of the next 6 days would be spent at small school / mission complexes in Puerto Cortes, Colan and mountain communities of Aqua Caliente and Yoro providing many of the same services. Our bus travel would take us through some extremely poor regions with many homes perched precariously on mountainsides and patched together with metal and wood sheeting and often enclosed with tarps.
Our medical team saw and treated a wide range of medical issues including GI problems / bacterial infections brought on by poor or non-existent water filtration systems, poor food storage and poor living conditions as well as general pain complaints associated with work related overuse syndromes. Individuals were seen for ulcerative skin lesions and chronic congenital deformities such as spina-bifida and club feet including a 4 day old infant with congenital club feet.
In many of the outlying areas as well as in the city, the water is unsafe to drink or cook with due to high levels of parasites and bacteria. Coke and Pepsi have benefitted immensely from this as they seemed to be the beverage of choice for much of the population. Hence, our dental team treated a huge number of dental caries, generally by pulling teeth and usually at the patient’s request.
Because members of this group have visited the same communities for years, they have developed a trust within the community and their arrival each year is eagerly awaited. Unfortunately for most, this is the only medical or dental care they receive for the entire year.
A special Thank You to all of the businesses and individuals who helped with the young adult’s fund raising projects that made their trip possible. They all had a most rewarding experience and are anxiously awaiting a repeat opportunity.
Published Feburary 2013
Written by Robert Bachman, PT