“ You get a strange feeling when you are about to leave a place… like you will not only miss the people you love but you will miss the person you are now in this time in place” -Azar Nafisi
Just like the unexpected twists and turns of the bus ride through the mountains, our week here was full of highs and lows. We were greeted with hugs and smiles from the villagers anxiously awaiting our arrival, as if we were family returning after a long time apart. The stark differences in living conditions were almost immediately apparent; things like difficult access to clean water and not enough healthcare. However, their trust in us to come in and listen to them and their needs solidified our drive to help these people even if just for a day every 6 months. Still there is always the desire to do more as we get back on the bus to head to Barnabas house at the end of the day.
Our last day was no different than the rest, as crosses were handed out up until the very last moment:
“How can I give my cross to just one person” – Suzanne Hayes
All week Suzanne felt the pressure of making that one special connection with someone while in the vision clinic. The visits were brief and she was intimidated by the language barrier as she had to spend the day without the help of a translator. She realized that Spanish is not the only language Hondurans use to communicate; giving each patient a hug or handshake she was able to forge a genuine connection. When she got off the bus she was struck by the presence of a weathered and worldly 83 year old man, Valentín. She knew there was a story behind every wrinkle and couldn’t fathom the life he must’ve endured.
The sadness in her face was evident.
Even though Hayden had been working in pharmacy all week it did not limit his ability in recognizing the sadness felt by some of the Honduran children. He noticed one little girl in particular throughout the day that was not smiling as much as the others. Right before getting on the bus he witnessed Meghan playing with the girl and the immediate sadness that overcame her when Meghan turned around to get on the bus. Since he did not interact with the girl himself he asked Meghan to give her his cross, knowing that it would bring a smile to her otherwise desolate face.
Nine year old man of the house.
Jessica found a representation of her daughter away from home in 9-year-old Miguel. She was blown away by his ability to be the caretaker of his family at such a young age, being the only one in his house able to read. Despite his fever and ear infection, he was going to do the best he could to assure that his family would follow the instructions given by her. In her own home life she witnessed her daughter step up and take more responsibility as this 9 year old had too. Because of this she was able to connect with him on a different level and was inspired to give her cross to him. As further testament to his strength he was one of the first to volunteer to help carry boxes to the bus at the end of the day.
“She’s got what it takes.” – Dr. Winnie Lee
Growing up in these communities the children face more barriers in trying to gain a better life. Katrina initially appeared especially anxious as she and her family were getting examined. When asked why she was anxious she stated it was because she had to be at school within the next 30 minutes and she had never been late. Her mother stated that she had to travel all the way to the bottom of the mountain to get to school and then proceeded to state that her daughter was one of the top students in her class. Proudly, her mom pulled out a photo of her report card and showed that she had 100 in every single subject. When asked what she wanted to be when she grows up Katrina stated she wanted to be a pediatrician. Dr.Lee was moved by this girl’s story as it reminded her of her own. She stated she did not doubt this girl’s grit and is sure that she will one day become a pediatrician.
We live in a completely different universe when compared to the Hondurans of these villages, so making connections at first seemed like it was going to be a difficult task. However, despite the language barrier, we all connected with them. We learned as much about ourselves as we did about them and we became different people in only a short 10 days. We brought the example of love to every village and they gave us love right back. We were blessed with 1243 people.
-Geneci Marroquin, Kaleigh Byrnes, and Vanessa Bui
A special thanks to our team leaders Dr. Edward Chambers and Dr.Carlo Reyes, for allowing us to participate in this journey.