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Serving La Pimienta

Tuesday, February 16, 2022

On our second workday in Honduras, we had a few rearrangements in clinic including our destination. Due to heavy rains, we were unable to make the trip to our planned community as the road would have been impassable. One physician and a member of the pharmacy team were unable to travel due to illness, but the remainder of the team ventured on to La Pimienta. This community has a strong leader in their teacher, and amazingly their school has not been closed during COVID. While setting up and throughout the day children frequently mentioned that they loved their school - one boy mentioned his soccer team from school was good and even competed with another town’s team. He bragged they even have a women’s soccer team!

Our clinic flow starts with registration, then families move to weights and measures to assess each child’s progress on the growth chart followed by the deworming station for parasite treatment. As Martha, one of our nurses, went to hand a middle-aged gentleman his albendazole, his mother gently stated “he’s blind” in order for her to provide the medication into his open hand. She subsequently wondered how different his future would be if he lived in the US. Honduras does not have a robust social services system. Not only is there a dearth of opportunities for development and care, but he also has to contend with navigating rough terrain, lack of robust general medical care as well as relying on his aging mother. At 83 years old she was particularly concerned about who would help care for him after she passed away.

In the dental area, once their patients were able to come in, the team started providing a range of services - extractions, sealants, and repairs. A teenage girl came to clinic with severe decay of her upper front teeth. She agreed to have these repaired with both teeth sealed. By the end of her treatment, she had a beautiful intact smile to match her demeanor. She was extremely grateful and thanked the staff again and again. Another rather stoic patient shared with Dr. Bo that Jesus loved him after receiving his treatment. These patients had the opportunity for their teeth to be fixed rather than removed which would not have been possible without the hard work of the entire dental team - including improvising the lighting so treatments could continue after a headlight ran out of battery. The fluoride endeavor was resurrected at a separate station and Bonnie single-handedly applied fluoride to over 40 children. She was excited to interact with the children, but several kids couldn’t get the needed additional treatment within the time frame we had. It is so hard to not provide each person with everything we feel is needed, but we tried to focus on all the good care we were able to provide.

We also set up well and sick clinics within the schoolhouse and immediately started seeing patients. There was the usual headache, muscle pains, and GI upset to see, however we were all happy to see more children in clinic today. We were able to identify several children in need of the extended care program including a 2-year-old with a 3-word vocabulary and a 17-month-old whose weight was below the 3rd percentile despite a very proactive mother.

As we moved through our families, it was amazing to see the families taking time to come in together. One family in particular stuck out to me - I saw two beautiful children with fairly routine histories, a father who woke early to work in the fields and a pregnant mother who had trouble sleeping and resting herself while caring for her family. How similar this story is to many of us in the United States - the grind of life wears at us in many ways. Yet in the midst of all of the stress of their young family’s life, this father made a point to tell me - we want you to know we love Jesus. Not only did this open the door for a deeper connection, but it was a gentle reminder to me that no matter the chaos of my life above all loving Jesus is the most important. At the end of the visit, we shared a beautiful time in prayer - a reminder that our God is always with us and cares for our burdens because he is our good Father.

In Christ,

Dr. Camil Correia (guest writer) and Hampton Roads team

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