It has been less than two weeks since I returned from Honduras, and my mind continues to be in overload as I reflect on all my experiences. I always have a difficult time transitioning and this is certainly the case, even after a one week visit.
Ofcourse I am thrilled to have arrived safely home and to be surrounded by family and friends, but my heart is once again torn in two as I leave my friends, past and current patients, and new aquaintances.
My week was actioned packed and filled with tears of joy and sadness. The first day I visited with “Baby Bee” and met her family for the first time. They are an incredibly loving and thankful family and welcomed me with gifts and a new nickname, “Mamasita Emily.”
We held a birthday party for former patient, Stefany who turned nine years old. She was one of Esperanza’s first patients and arrived at our home as a 17 month old, seeking treatment for bilateral clubfeet. Watching her run on the “slip n’ slide”, jump in the pool and swing at the pinata was so very gratifying.
I had the opportunity to attend Astrid’s kindergarten graduation ceremony. Despite the fact she missed four months of school while receiving medical treatment, she still graduated third in her class. Oh, how proud she was to receive her medal!
I visited with ongoing patients and new ones to Esperanza including: 13 month old Adriana (awaiting a heart catheterization), and two people with leukemia, 14 year old. Gerardo, and 39 year old, Maricela. It is heartbreaking enough that they are facing these serious health issues, but not having the financial resources for treatment is so unjust.
Fortunately, my spirits were lifted visiting “our” patients who have been successfully treated including 13 year old, Iris, who has cerebral palsy. In the past, she was hunched over, not wanting to bear weight. After operations and physical therapy, she is happily playing and attending school with big dreams of the future. I also had the chance to see soon-to-be eight year old, Martha Cristina. She is absolutely a miracle…diagnosed with kidney cancer 3 1/2 years ago, she is now in remission after extensive chemo and radiation therapy. She is a bright eyed, beautiful girl who is full of spirit.
One of the highlights of my week was attending a dedication service at one of the public schools in Flores. Our church (Pilgrim Congregational, UCC of Lexington, MA) had raised funds for a building project. Although it was a Saturday, the students (in uniform) and their teachers gathered at the school to welcome me with songs (including the national anthem). I had the honor of placing the first brick into a space that will become their outside eating/gathering area. This is an incredibly impoverished school, offering me a reception of gratitude….another tearful moment.
Ana and I met with representatives from Plan USA. They are a group assisting us in the process of bringing clean water to Flores. This has been an incredibly slow process (several years)…our latest hurdle is getting the new lawyer for SERNA to turn over the ownership for the project to the town of Flores. Next, a technical study will be completed. We are getting closer to our dream of bringing clean water to Flores…it will be one of the best ways to prevent many illnesses.
I returned to the states with 9 year old, Noel. He is a patient of Esperanza’s who had successful heart surgery five years ago. Noel will be spending the summer with us.
Tom and I look forward to returning in the middle of October for a month long visit.