Esperanza Hosting Journey For Hope

Jason and Becca

Beginning in June 2012, Esperanza will be joined with Jason Musselman and Becca Laders for a two-month long, youth photography project in Flores, Honduras. The class focus’ on empowering impoverished youth, by allowing them to tell their stories and giving them a skill that would not have otherwise been available to them. This will be the second time this class will have been taught internationally, last year being in the biggest slum in Cape Town, South Africa.

Esperanza is thrilled to welcome these two gifted volunteers and know the Flores community will be enriched by this unique opportunity. To learn more about Jason, Becca and their project, please visit: http://ourjourneyforhope.tumblr.com

More Updates From Honduras

Recently we have posted Emily with Ostinabout Ostin, a baby with lymphatic malformation in the face, who has received an experimental drug called OK-432 from Japan. Yesterday, Emily traveled to San Pedro Sula with him to visit his doctor. He received an ultrasound and we are happy to report that since his first injection there has been a 60% improvement in his condition! His next injection will be Monday.

While in San Pedro Sula, Emily met with Peggy Kipps of the Ruth Paz Foundation and got to visit local hospitals and doctors. The Ruth Paz Foundation has been an extremely helpful partner to Esperanza over the years and has significantly expanded our medical network within Honduras.

Emily also met with Hector Fonseca MD, a pediatric cardiologist we trust and he gave her a cd of a child who needs to go to the US. We also have another serious heart case of a 7 month old that Emily is pursuing help from a heart brigade in San Pedro Sula, otherwise he will need to come to the US.

Other cases being worked on at the moment include a patient who lost his eye sight 6 years ago from a machete accident. He needs an evaluation and possibly a prosthetic eye like Vanessa. We also have a 10 year old needing surgery on his testicles as soon as possible and have the best surgeon in Honduras lined up if a brigade cannot do it next week.

Ana is currently working her tail off between helping Esperanza and a group from Michigan who is running medical clinics in Honduras. Once again it’s being shown how hard she works and how much we depend on her!

On a sadder note, Peggy has informed us that all but one of the people from the prison fire who were hospitalized in Tegucigalpa have died. The level of medical care is just so much worse compared to the US, but this also shows why we need to continue to work hard in Honduras.

Will continue to update as I receive more information from Emily and Tom.

Honduras Prison Fire

Honduran Firefighter (from cnn.com) Picture from CNN.com

This post is written by Rick Lania

We would like to let everyone know that Emily, Tom, and the Moir family who are currently in Honduras with them are all safe and sound at this time. As many news outlets are reporting, there was a major fire in a Comayagua prison last night. There are discrepancies from what Emily has told me is being said in Honduras and what is being reported online but the death toll is in the hundreds.

Before my family built a house in Honduras, we use to stay at Hotel Santa Maria which is located right next to this prison and is only separated by a soccer field. I’m still in a bit of shock that this place I use to run by all the time is now gone and so many lives were lost.

When I spoke with Emily this morning she told me that they were still attempting to take the kids to school in Comayagua but were unsure if it would be open or if they would even be able to get there because you have to drive by the prison to get there. Emily, Tom, and Ana had also planned on touring a hospital in Comayagua with the Moirs today, to show them the conditions. But now with so many people in need of critical care that won’t be possible.

I’ll continue to keep Esperanza’s blog and facebook page updated as I recieve more information from Emily and Tom. Our thoughts are with all the Honduran families affected by this tragic event.

The More I Learn, The Less I Know

I often find myself reflecting on words of wisdom from Ana. She has told me before, ¨Emily, you will see the situation differently when you stay here for longer periods of time. People´s lifestyles will drive you crazy. They will be doing the same thing every day…watching t.v.¨It´s a sharp contrast to Ana who is in constant motion, with a racing mind whose words can´t keep up, and she often stops mid sentence and asks, ¨what were we talking about?¨Ana is so driven to help others, believing it is her responsibility to serve.

Even though Tom and I spent a month here from mid October to mid November, Ana is correct and I am seeing things in a new light. Our previous visit was consumed with projects around the house, patients to care for, families to visit, homework with the children, and new places to visit. This time I am here for 12 days before Tom´s arrival and I have had the opportunity to witness more deeply the reality of people´s lives. I am watching in depth their daily struggles for survival, and it´s wearing.

People often ask me, ¨are the people in Honduras happy?” I still don´t know how to answer that because I realize that people act differently when I am around. Although I´ve known many for years, there´s still so much I don´t know about their lives, feelings and dreams.

And yes, most of the people are doing the same thing day after day…and it´s difficult to know whether people lack initiative to change their lives or are stuck because they lack the knowledge, or there simply aren´t viable options. The resources here are so limited….in Flores, there is no playground or library. People suffer from boredom and the feeling spreads, and it is palpable. It is no wonder that people ¨escape¨with drugs and alcohol, and get sucked into gangs and violence.

Tom arrives tomorrow and I´m anxiously awaiting his arrival. I am grateful to have had the chance of being here alone because it is only through the experience that I truly could have learned. I look forward to being together and sharing the day´s events, and having someone else to lean on.

Our Home Has Become Their Sanctuary

For the past week, three children have been staying at our home. Astrid (7 years old) loves staying at our home because of the “calmness”…a break from her chaotic house which is located in the barrio referred to as ” punta caliente” (hot point because it’s dangerous and drugs are prevelant). Noel (10 years old) loves being at our home because there’s always plenty of food. His family  scrapes by on next to nothing….the previous day, they had butter (from their cow) and beans. Jairo (14 years old) loves being at our home because he craves the sense of family. Before going to bed, he will call from one room to the other “good night Mother.” Jairo’s mother went to the USA when he was a little boy, leaving him and his brother with an aunt, for several of their formative years. She met her husband there, and they are now living in Guatemala. Jairo didn’t feel like he belonged and returned to Flores and is living alone.

We will never be able to replace their families or their upbringings but we do hope our love and attention will give them a sense of worth and hope for a brighter future.

Update on Emily’s Trip

This post was written by Rick Lania

Last night I spoke with Emily and got to hear about some of the things she has been doing in Flores since arriving in Honduras almost a week ago. She has a bunch of new cases that she has began working on, including a 26 year old in need of a neurosurgeon. Noel, Wesly, Daniella, and Astrid all have exams this coming week so she has been helping them study.

As with all trips to Honduras unexpected events come up and there is a need react to them. This weeks event was a mentally disabled man walking down the middle of a highway. Ana feared not only for this man’s safety but the on coming traffic’s safety who might need to swerve out of the way to avoid him. A few people from Flores were able to secure this man and take him to a mental hospital. However, when they arrived at the hospital they learned there was a fee to admit him. Not having the resources to get help is a common issue for Hondurans but the people that took him there knew Emily would cover the expenses.

Being able to adapt is a major lesson I’ve learned during my trips to Honduras. As much as you want to set schedules and have a plan, that is not always possible. Unexpected events come out of no where, offices and stores will randomly be closed, people will be on strike, there are lots of power outages, and 100 other things you can’t plan for. You can plan for an end goal that you want to achieve but you have to be ready and willing to change the path to get there.

Giving Thanks

This past Wednesday, Tom and I arrived home safely from Honduras. When we first arrived for our month long stay, Ana was apprehensive and expressed her concern that we would become “bored” (not a chance!) and “fall more in love with the children” (absolutely correct!).

Our time went by more quickly than we could have imagined. Along with treating high priority medical cases, working within the local medical community and interfacing with various agencies, we also had time to really go “deeper than the surface” with some particular families.

Not only did we  join all our neighbors in the daily quest for clean water (generally available 2-3 hours per day), we also witnessed their struggle of trying to feed their families on the bare minimum (ie. one pound of chicken feet for 50 cents, for a family of five), and then there were the more “luxurious ” obstacles of obtaining necessary medicine or school supplies. It was exhausting and enlightening.

One of the greatest blessings was meeting with Ms. Lourdes Pena, a local psychologist. She is a dynamic woman, filled with compassion, insight and knowledge.  Meeting with Lourdes gave us the opportunity to express our visions for Esperanza, and she was able to share her knowledge of the Honduran culture and the realities of life in the Third World. Lourdes will be there to provide Ana with emotional support who we acknowledge has the most difficult position of all. We are able to “escape” back to the States, but Ana is the one who everyone seeks out, looking for help from the “Americans.” Often times, it is Ana who has to say “no” and turn people away, trying to protect us from “burning out.”  Lourdes is working with some of our patients who are in need of evaluations and further counseling so that we can really get to the root of their issues and how to address them.

Thanksgiving is in two days, and I find myself even more aware of all the things I have to be thankful for…family, friends and health are always at the top. Certainly, I will be overwhelmed by the abundance of food, and reflecting back to the empty fridge above and many harsh reminders of living in poverty. I will try not to dwell on it, and be thankful that Tom and I have found “our purpose” and are fortunate enough to be living our dream…can’t imagine  life without Honduras.

I Have To Get There

Some days have been more tranquil than others. Yesterday, Tom and I watched some of the kids running with their kites in an open field, across the street from our home. Seeing kids showing pure joy was heart warming. Of course, we wanted to go purchase dozens more for the others, but we have learned this would just cause chaos and non stop requests at our home.

Today began quite early, when I was woken by an intestinal bug…the good ole kind where you’re not sure which way it’s headed! To make matters worse, I had promised to pick up a very young couple and their 7 week baby, for their cardiology appt. I had only been to their house once, and they live off in the mountains. Driving to get them, I had to repeatedly pull over, to get sick. I began breaking out into a sweat knowing “I had to get there”…if not, the kids would be late for exams and the family could miss their emergency appt.

This is one of those times when I am pleading with God to show me the way. Tom and I feel closer to God when we are here…for him, it’s because of the simplicity of life. For me, it’s because I realize how much more I rely on my faith. It’s often a running dialog in my mind, throughout the day.

Now we await Ana’s arrival home from San Pedro Sula where she has taken the 2 cardiac patients to 2 different doctors. She has also picked up her friends from Michigan who are frequent volunteers in Honduras. All in a day’s work for Ana but even more sacrificial because it’s Wessly’s (her only child) Birthday. Ana does so much for so many, unfortunately we can’t always relieve her from the work. But I can go play with Wessly, and nothing would make her happier.

Halfway Point of the Trip

We´re about half way through our month long visit to Honduras. When we first arrived, Ana was afraid we would become bored, staying this long. That certainly isn´t the case….we haven´t had the time. Right now, the children are in exams for 2 hours, so it gives me a chance to be at the internet…alone. In the past two weeks, the only time I have spent by myself is the 20 minute ride from Comayagua to Flores, after dropping the kids off to school. I treasure that time because of the quietness and the chance to reflect on what we are experiencing. There is so much I want to share, and I am jotting down notes along the way.

For years Tom and I have been dreaming about the day we would could stay in Honduras for longer than a week or two, and that day has arrived. We were filled with anticipation, but over the years had developed an awareness that we needed to go into the experience with no expectations…whatever happens, happens and you have to learn to adapt. It is not easy, and can cause stress between the two of us and with others, but it is what makes the experience more meaningful.

Being here for a longer time has given us a deeper understanding of the daily struggles people face. IT IS THE MOST HUMBLING EXPERIENCE. We live amongst the poor…every single family lives this way, it´s simply a matter of the severity. We see their constant struggle for the basics…food, clothing and shelter. Some are fortunate enough to have tortillas, rice, and beans, and others often go without. We see people who do not have a single pair of shoes, and others who wrap their babies in a make shift blanket. Their homes range from ones constructed of plastic or scraps of metal, to ones made from adobe to the “upscale¨ homes made out of hand made cinder blocks.

Undoubtedly, there are people living in poverty in the U.S., but there are also soup kitchens, food pantries and homeless shelters available. Here there are none.