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Team SOVA Returns to the Community of El Tontol

"Compassion" comes from the Latin word ""compati" meaning "co-suffering." It's definition strikes me as having two unique components: a feeling of deep sympathy for the suffering of others combined with a strong desire to alleviate this suffering. Thus, to me, compassion is both a noun and a verb. It motivates. It is helpful. It is loving. It is selfless. We are moved by others' pain to act to prevent it.

The village of El Tontol sits to the west of Lago de Yojoa and was founded in 1970. It is a community of 230 people that sits at the bottom of an extremely steep, rocky dirt road. Indeed, it was such a precipitous drop, we had to leave the bus at the top and walk down into the village. Once there, we setup shop in the beautiful church (complete with flushing toilets--a rare luxury) and also in the school just down the road.

Two important take aways from today's journey. The first take away is how wonderful it was for the SOVA team to see how some of the families are doing as they visited this village this time last year. Both Kristy and Tonia recognized previous pediatric patients, so it was fun for them to witness their growth in person. I was also told by seasoned team members that the children's teeth looked much better this year--a result of educating them on daily dental hygiene. The second take away was how serious some of the cases we saw today were. One young boy was so photosensitive, he cried when his mother removed his sunglasses. Another young girl had significant neurological and cardiac problems. The good news is that we learned she was identified last year when we came as needing special attention and thus has been in our Extended Care Program, referred to all the appropriate specialists. Finally, the most heartbreaking case we saw today was a 7 year old boy with spina bifida and hydroencephaly. He could not walk and so his young sister and father were carrying him to the different medical stations. As if his condition wasn't heartbreaking enough, he also had to have a tooth pulled. Doctor Arita, our dentist, shared with us that this one boy touched him more today than any other patient he has ever seen through FOB. He was enrolled in our Extended Care Program and he and his family can use all the love and prayers we can muster.

On a lighter note, sometimes all it takes is for another human being to acknowledge your pain and provide some much needed TLC. Sarah had a young patient who had fallen down recently. She applied bacitracin and placed a band aid over her wound and the little girl announced, "It doesn't hurt anymore now."

Finally, Michael's devotion tonight revolved around loving thy neighbor as thyself. But WHO is your neighbor was the question he posed. The answer: anyone in need.

- Aimee Venn



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