The Vast Range of Emotions

Brayan post surgery

The longer our stay in Honduras the more I experience the “highs” and “lows”…yesterday, we were mourning the loss of little Nelly and today we are celebrating the successful surgery on Brayan. Two weeks ago, Tom was introduced to this 10 year old who had an undescended testicle and right inguinal hernia. He discussed the case with a prominent surgeon in San Pedro Sula who expressed his concern that ideally, this surgery would have been done by the time he was two years old. Without surgery, there could be significant consequences including cancer.

Originally, we thought we would coordinate a trip to San Pedro Sula for Brayan’s operation. Fortunately, a dentist from Florida (Dave Girlinghouse) who was working in Flores, referred this case to his colleagues working at St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center, in Comayagua. A U.S. surgeon who is part of the Light of the World Charity successfully operated on Brayan.

Tom and I drove Brayan and his mother to the hospital and settled them in, reassuring them we would be back later in the day to see how the surgery had gone. We spoke with the medical staff, and were introduced to “Brother T”, a Franciscan Friar who is part of the organization (along with Light of the World) which run the hospital.

After picking up “our kids” at the bilingual school, we stopped by the hospital where we found a relieved mom and her son anxiously wanting to return home. We talked with the medical folks and they said they could spend the night, which we encouraged mom to do, but she was insistent they return home where two of her other children would be waiting. Since Brayan had been given “the o.k.” from the doctors, we agreed to take them and told mom we would meet them in front of the hospital.

To pass the time, we entertained our little students by buying ice cream. We were so surprised to look down and see Brayan and mom appear so quickly, and immediately noticed he still had an iv in his hand! Tom and I ushered them back inside, tracked down a nurse, and proceeded with the discharge process. They were given written instructions and pain medication, and then I remembered…mom does not know how to read, and asked the nurse to explain it orally.

Once again, we were reminded of the limitations when someone is illiterate, and the consequences of not having the opportunity of an education. Gingerly, we drove everyone back home to Flores. Tom carried little Brayan over a hand made bridge, into his one room home which had a sheet hanging, dividing the family’s bedroom from the living area. It’s so humbling seeing how people live with such little. We clarified instructions for pain management and reassured them we would return the following day for a “house call.”

As we returned home, I thought of “Brother T’s” gracious compliment given to us earlier in the day…”you two sound like good samaritans” …no words could be more motivating.

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.

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.

Thank You

Thank You from Esperanza

Dear Esperanza Supporters,

We’d like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation for your financial and moral support. We are truly grateful for your faith in our work and sharing our vision of helping others in need. Together we can make a difference in the lives of many. May you all enjoy the holiday season and have a happy and healthy 2012.

Our gratitude to all,

Tom, Emily, Ana and Ricky

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.

Updates from Emily and Tom in Flores

Emily & Tom

I spoke with Emily and Tom last night, and got to hear how extremely busy they have been since going down to Honduras. Noel, Stefany, Astrid, Chippy, and Daniella have all spent a few nights sleeping over, and Emily and Tom are getting to experience first hand many of the challenges Honduran kids and their parents face when it comes to school work. For example, Noel had a homework assignment where he had to cut out an image that was an example of “strength.” How do you do this when you don’t have a magazine or newspaper to use? Also, they were amazed at the amount of homework each child is expected to do even in 1st and 2nd grade.

As happens with every trip to Honduras, Emily and Tom were sought out by someone looking for medical help. This time it was a mother and her son with heart conditions, who also happened to be relatives of Noel. In order to better understand what they were looking for and to get past the language barrier, Noel translated back and forth for Emily. Noel’s grandmother was brought to tears by how proud and amazed she was seeing him in action.

Emily and Tom have also got to see friends they have met over the years including Gloria, Blanca, and German. As I get more updates I’ll continue to share what they have been up to.

This post was written by Rick Lania