Ostin and Karla arrived safely to New York City. Although they’re both mobile, we had requested a wheelchair so that someone could help navigate them through immigration and customs in Miami. A couple who happened to meet them in Honduras, escorted them to meet us and handed me a small bag, smiling as she said, “this is all they have.” It didn’t surprise me at all, nor did seeing Ostin in sandals about to face the freezing cold. Part of me admires the simplicity, and how much I over pack every time I travel. But I also know the reality that Ostin does not have sneakers or other footwear, things we often take for granted.
As we headed to the exit, we handed them winter coats, but they didn’t seem too interested. Once we opened the door to the parking garage, the look of shock on Karla’s face was priceless. “Mucho frio” (very cold) as her eyes widened and she gasped in the cold air! She quickly grabbed the jackets and wrapped Ostin in his new quilt. As we opened up the car door, the next cultural adjustment to hit them…a car seat! We quickly learned Ostin is no fan of these and his piercing screams remind us.
Fortunately, it was a short ride to our hotel. I had reserved one room because I didn’t want them to feel afraid and alone, but I did wonder if this was a wise choice as we tried to settle in for the night. The night actually went better than I expected, and before I knew it I woke up hearing Ostin saying, “que es eso?, que es eso?” (what is that, what is that) as he stared out the window. A whole new world before his eyes as he stared at the street in New York City filled with cars, and buses and construction trucks (his favorite). He’d only been in the city for eight hours and was overly stimulated by the sights, sounds, and temperatures. The adventure had begun.
This morning I was once again reminded of how privileged I am. We arrived at Logan airport at 4:00 a.m. to send two of our patients (a.k.a. family members) back to Honduras. After waiting in a lengthy line, which included a long wait for people who had over packed their bags and spent 20 minutes shifting items (to avoid the over charge), we arrived at the counter. Once we began checking the children in, the agent told us there would be an additional charge of $150. Although I explained that I had been told at the time of booking of the set rate, she called her supervisor and told us she was following protocol, and we would be charged. I found myself really aggravated but also relieved, knowing I could pull out a credit card and pay.
This isn’t the case for our families in Honduras. When faced with an unexpected expense, they do not have the resources to act immediately. It takes people much more time and rely on many more resources when an emergency arrives. They do not carry credit cards, debit cards or have access to ATM’s. Often times they are caught without their identification cards and therefore are “nameless.” They may be able to “work out the situation”, but more often than not, they can’t in the moment, and will have to return at a later time through much more tribulation. I’m not sure if they experience the same frustration that I do, or if they are more accepting that “it’s just life” as they know it, and nothing comes easily.
Some how, there was a “change of heart” with our ticket agent and the fee was waived. I was grateful to save the money but also to be reminded of how fortunate I am, and aware of how many are not. I hope this feeling stays…
Often times I find myself in conversations about Honduras. People seem intrigued that we go “there” and wonder what we “do” and…”why?” I have never felt that I could adequately explain my answer…my usual responses are: “because of the people”, “our hearts were captivated” or “it just feels like what we should be doing.” But it’s more than that…it is a part of my being.
Sadly, Honduras has become more dangerous over the years and this month the Peace Corps will be removing their volunteers. Others ask me, “will you still go back?” And the answer is, “yes.” Our relationships are too deep and important to not return. People are depending on us and we value the impact we can make.
I need to follow my heart…and don’t want fear to deter me.
It was on our 2nd trip to Honduras, riding in the back of a pick-up truck when my husband and I looked at each other and knew, “this is what we’re suppose to do.” We feel very fortunate to have found our shared passion, and to have the ability to live our dreams…but we wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of others.
First, and most importantly, is our immediate family. I remember telling “the boys” that we would be hosting our first patients, a 17 month old girl and a 19 year old young woman. Their first reactions were of reluctance. They knew we wanted to help others, but now it was going to impact their lives. I can honestly say that it was the most positive way we influenced their childhoods.They certainly formed bonds with the children and some became as close as siblings, and they were taught life lessons from them, as well. Our boys shared these experiences with their friends, and they too became actively involved.
My extended family has shared their love and support with our Honduran children. Often times “Abuela” and “Abuelo” (a.k.a. Grandma and Grandpa) have stepped in to babysit and drive to/from the airport and hospitals. My brothers have been actively involved with the children and also shared their expertise in law and finance. Esperanza wouldn’t have been formed without their help.
Certainly our friends have made all the difference in the world. They have provided much needed respite…at the exact times we felt pushed to our limits. Friends have welcomed “our” children into their homes, and fully immersed themselves into their lives. I’m thankful to have friends with a common vision, and we have so much fun sharing our memories of the children.
I absolutely agree with the statement “it takes a village to raise a child”…thanks to all who share our journey.