Last night we debriefed our team on today’s village, Buena Vista La Calera, in San Antonio in the department of Cortes. This community is 90 minutes away from any town, accessible by a bumpy rocky dirt road that meanders along the mountain cliffs revealing a majestic view of coffee, sugar cane, and corn blanketing the hillside. As we arrive, we see the villagers lined up, ready to greet us. An old woman in her late 70s, came to each of us, and hugged us one-by-one, thanking us for coming. This show of love set the tone for the rest of the day.
There’s a tradition at Friends of Barnabas to give a cross to a villager during our medical mission trip that is intended to be a symbol of support and love for another human being. Here are today’s cross stories.
Dr. Ed gave his cross to an elderly man, apparently an elder of the community. The life of a 75 year-old in the mountains of Honduras can’t be easy. Despite his age and chronic ailments, he stood proud with his cowboy hat on, shaking Dr. Ed’s hand to show respect. He was grateful that we came, and happy that our team came to help everyone in the village. When Dr. Ed inquired about his family, he said that several years ago he had to bury his son. His son was trying to make a better life for himself by moving into the city to find a job. He was killed in the city. Dr. Ed saw the pain behind his eyes, eyes that tell the whole story just in its expression. The man regrets letting his son leave, but also acknowledged it wouldn’t have been right to force him to stay in the mountains to live the next 70 years in the fields. Dr. Ed felt compelled to give his cross to the elderly man and pray with him.
Geneci gave her cross to a young girl. A girl who calls her grandparents “mom and dad”. What impressed her was that the young girl was 10, and her mother left the country years ago, without her daughter. The young girl is tough, hardened by a life that no child should endure. Geneci could not help but feel a connection, because the girl reminded her of the hardship her mother endured moving from El Salvador to the United States. Geneci broke into tears and hugged her, and immediately gave her cross with the hope that the young girl can remain strong, and believe that no matter what cards are dealt, that she can still fight to create a better life for herself.
Kyle gave his cross today. He noticed a woman in her 40s, bringing in her 18 y/o daughter with severe developmental delay and Cerebral Palsy. He was in amazement at the hardship the woman must endure on a daily basis- to care for her daughter in the mountains with no medical care. We referred the family to primary care and neurology to treat her daily seizures, which have never been treated with medications before.
Kaleigh and Vanessa gave their crosses today to Alita and Eva, two little children that spent the free time during a busy clinic playing with them.
By the end of clinic, we had seen 286 patients in the medical stations, 215 patients received vitamins, 179 patients received mebendazole, and dozens more in dental and eye clinic. A full day indeed! I’d like to think that we bring more than just medicines. We bring hope.