In less than a week, we will be on our way to Honduras. For the past several months we have been collecting school supplies, footwear and medical supplies. I have certainly learned the “art of packing” and remove any excess packing materials, pack in lightweight canvas bags and fill each one to exactly 50 lbs. (our heavy stuff goes in the carry-ons!) We are allowed one checked bag for free but pay the additional fee ($50.00 each) to bring 2 extras…far cheaper than sending by mail, and generally, reliable.
Part of the packing process is assessing which items are the greatest priority. Certainly medical supplies comes to the top of the list and we will be carrying medicine and equipment. However, one item we are unable to take and is greatly needed is oxygen. I just read a report that Mario Catarino Rivas, a large public hospital in San Pedro Sula is currently without oxygen. Not only elective surgeries, but emergency surgeries are cancelled. The issue is a supply problem… the hospital is in debt to its only supplier. This just adds another element to the long list of problems with the healthcare system… chronic shortage of medicine, equipment and supplies, along with striking doctors.
Hopefully, we’ll stay healthy during our trip and fortunately, we have the means to receive private care. We’re certainly in the minority for this privilege.
In five days, Noel will be returning to his family in Honduras after spending nine weeks with our family. I am trying to “stay in the moment” and enjoy each day, but saying “goodbye” does linger in the back of my mind. We have been through this countless times, having fostered many children in the past several years, but having Noel leave is always more difficult for me. This little boy captured my heart over five years ago when his mom first introduced us and explained his need for a life saving operation. Since then, he’s traveled here more times than any other patient and spent extended periods with our family…we’ve shared his hospital experiences, holidays and regular day happenings.
I love children of all ages, and there’s a certain beauty in meeting them at a young age and watching their development. We met Noel when he was four years old, and he was absolutely adorable. He had big brown eyes, and a smile that just radiated. We loved watching him play…one day turning a cardboard box into his own toy, and another day teaching us the art of marbles.
In the past two months, my husband and I have spent nearly every evening hanging out with Noel. Now that he is almost ten years old and fluent in Engligh, he enjoys sharing stories about his home life and community. I really look forward to his stories each night and learning more about the people and country we have come to love. Although we have a home in Honduras and many friends there, we are limited in communicating with them because of the language barrier. Noel, and the other children attending bilingual school, are often our “key” to this other culture.
This summer we have learned about the different animals eaten in Honduras including squirrel, snake, and rats. We have learned about various home remedies…everything from curing illnesses to preventing perspiration. Noel has taught us how his family lives with the most basic supplies and how they improvise when they don’t have a certain tool that we would use. We have a greater understanding of the daily struggles his family (and most others) face each and every day, and a deeper sense of admiration of their survival instincts.
I am grateful Noel is looking forward to returning home to a family who loves him, and is willing to share their son with our family. It is also helpful knowing that we will be seeing him in two months, when we return to the same village as Noel’s, for a month long visit. We will have the opportunity to share some of the experiences Noel has told us about, and for that, we are grateful. Be safe, my friend.
Previously in our “Success Stories” section we focused on the Honduran patients who have received treatment in the United States. However, that is really only a portion of the work Esperanza does. Whenever possible we try to find treatment for the patients within their home country, allowing them to stay with their family. To learn more about these children who have received treatment within Honduras, check out our Success Stories page. Over the next few weeks we will continue to add more to this section, so be sure keep an eye out!