From A Statistic To Member Of Our Household

Ostin Pudding

He’s no longer a number…he’s more than a name…he started as a patient…and now he’s one of “our” kids. The statistics are staggering, more than 80% of Hondurans do not have health insurance. Three years and five months ago we first heard the name “Ostin” and learned he was in need of medical attention. At first we helped from a distance…communicating with doctors in San Pedro Sula and sending money to cover the visits and transportation. Next, we were able to meet him and his family in person. We contacted doctors at prestigious hospitals in Boston, listened to their advise about protocol for treatment and forwarded that information on to the doctors in Honduras.

We continued to visit Ostin, reassuring his parents we were still committed to helping. Many months would pass, and eventually we helped obtain a drug from Japan which the doctors in Honduras were able to inject into Ostin. We returned to Honduras and accompanied Ostin and his mother to medical appointments. Initially, the drug seemed to work and Ostin was showing improvement. Months would pass, more injections would be given, and then we would return for another visit. At last, the doctors felt they had done all they could do for Ostin and he would need to go to the States for more treatment.

Many more months passed as we coordinated doctors, hospitals, financing, and visas. Ostin arrived here 10 weeks ago and since then has undergone two big surgeries and other procedures. Once a child moves into your home, he/she is no longer a patient…he/she becomes one of your own. We know his fears, what makes him happy, his favorite foods, the toys he likes to play with. Sometimes it’s a slow process, other times it’s more immediate, but they crawl into your heart.

Having a child living with a serious medical condition is extremely stressful. We try focusing on one medical appointment or procedure to the next, but then there are unpredictable setbacks in his health or unforeseen issues with financing and the feelings of frustration and disappointment escalate.

Loving a child who has no health insurance and has one opportunity to receive medical treatment before returning to his life in poverty adds a whole new dimension…especially when you feel like you’re his voice.

From Toddlers To Teens, Inspired By Others With Lymphatic Malformations

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Last month we returned to Lenox Hill Hospital for Ostin’s second surgery. We had the pleasure of meeting little Nora, who instantly charmed us with her out going personality, adorable smile and abundance of love (blowing kisses to all)! Nora, her mom, Carrie, and grandma joined us in the playroom where we had an opportunity to share “our stories.” Nora is a 16 month old girl who was born with a lymphatic malformation, similar to Ostin’s. It is incredibly comforting to be with children and their families who can relate to your situation, discuss different treatment plans and explain where they are on their journey. Carrie really inspired us with her strong faith, extensive knowledge of this medical condition and great sense of humor! As Carrie describes on her blog,littlelightofminenora.blogspot.com, Nora’s name means “light” and she truly is the light in their loving family.

The month before, we had been sitting in the same playroom, when we had the good fortune of meeting a 16 year old girl, and her father. Her dad inquired about Ostin, wondering what type of diagnosis he had. We knew it was a “safe” environment and he was truly asking out of concern. When I responded, “he has a lymphatic malformation”, he turned to his beautiful daughter, and said, “so does she.” This articulate and poised young lady proceeded to share her experiences in a very factual, easy going manner. She had been born in Mexico and at the time of her birth, her father knew that something was “wrong.” Unfortunately, the doctors denied his insight and no treatment was offered. When she was two years old, the family traveled to the United States where medical care was available, and they settled into their new environment. It’s been a financial struggle for this family of five…the father works two jobs and can only afford health insurance for his children, not for his wife or himself. Yet, he never complained. Receiving medical care for his daughter was his priority, and he knew he was more fortunate than others.

We were grateful they are fluent in Spanish, and left Ostin’s mom, Karla, with them so they could have the opportunity to talk. They learned Karla and Ostin are from Honduras, and living with us while Ostin receives medical treatment. The father told me that Karla has the desire to learn English, and then quietly handed me $50.00, saying, “could you put this towards that?” At first I resisted, but looking in his eyes, I knew this was a gift from his heart.

True example of generosity…the person with the least, offering the most.

“For It Is In Giving That We Receive”

Josue's New Laptop

We’d like to thank the anonymous donor from Pilgrim Congregational Church in Lexington, MA who recently donated a brand new laptop. This morning we delivered the gift to 17 year old “Josue”, who is currently living at The Constitution Inn located in Charlestown. For the past seven months, Josue has been receiving medical treatment (including a prosthetic hand/arm, and a “tissue expansion” in his head) at Shriners Hospitals in Boston and Springfield.

Eleven years ago, Josue’s room in Comayagua, Honduras caught on fire due to poor electrical wiring. He suffered severe burns over much of his body. Since then, he has traveled to the States several times for medical care.

Despite the adversity he has faced, Josue remains very optimistic and has a charming personality. Josue is quite fluent in English and enjoys attending school and working. We couldn’t think of a more deserving person for this generous gift, and seeing Josue’s smile and enthusiastic reaction was just priceless!

Our sincere appreciation for the kindness of others.

Lizzie’s friends join in her generosity.

Lizzie and Astrid

Lizzie’s inspiration to help others was generously endorsed by her friends (and their families). Esperanza is thrilled to report that $460 was donated in honor of Lizzie’s 16th birthday and will be used to improve the condition of Astrid’s home! Thank you all for caring so much. If all goes according to plan, Astrid will be returning here in June 2013 and will see many of you then.

Lizzie shares her gifts with others.

Lizzie

Esperanza-Hope for the Children, Inc. sends best wishes to Lizzie Morrison who is celebrating her 16th birthday! It is often thought that teenagers are self-absorbed, but this young lady has generously asked her friends to forego gifts for herself, and if they desire, make a contribution to Esperanza.

Lizzie, a high school sophomore, has befriended many Honduran children over the years. I’ll never forget the day at Shriners Hospital when I saw Lizzie rocking baby Hedman. This infant had suffered severe burns over much of his body, including his face, head and the loss of his hand. Many children would be very uncomfortable in this situation, but not Lizzie…she was a natural, comforting Hedman with the ability to see beyond his injuries.

Since that time, Lizzie and her family have not only visited dozens of children hospitalized in Boston, they have opened their home and fostered  children in need of specialized medical treatment before returning to their families in Honduras. Often times, the children are with the Morrisons for several weeks and special bonds are formed.

Eight year old Astrid has developed a particularly close relationship with the Morrison family. Originally, she was here for several operations for a “tethered (spinal) cord” and “cavus” foot. She continues to return each summer for follow-up appointments. The Morrisons have been financially supporting Astrid in a bilingual school where she is a very gifted student who now has a much brighter future.

Astrid lives in a dangerous part of her village which is referred to as “punta calienta” (hot point). Fortunately, she now has a small 2 bedroom house, but it still lacks any furniture in the one common room. It is Lizzie’s desire to direct her donations to improve Astrid’s home…this might be purchasing furniture or installing bars on the windows.

Thanks Lizzie, for all your involvement over the years and for making a difference in the lives of so any children.

We couldn’t be more proud!

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This afternoon I had the chance to catch up with Ana Hernandez, Esperanza’s Honduran coordinator. We talked about various medical cases we’re involved in and then she shared updates on various students Esperanza supports. I couldn’t have been happier when she talked about 15 year Jairo who will be matriculating to the next grade in February.

Jairo has had a challenging childhood to say the least. His father has never been involved in his life, and when his mom was raising him and his little brother, Carlito, she was in a horrific car accident which we witnessed. Among Brenda’s greatest ailments was a huge gash across her forehead and another gash to her hand which exposed her bones. Amazingly, an ambulance did appear, Ana escorted her to the U.S./Honduran military base and she was transferred to a hospital in Tegucigalpa. Once we learned of her prognosis, we agreed to sponsor her treatment at a private hospital, fearing she would die if she stayed in the public one.

Thankfully, Brenda made a full recovery medically. However, her life did not improve financially and she made the grueling decision to leave her sons with family and travel to the U.S. for employment. It’s a heart wrenching decision to make but Brenda wanted to be able to feed and house her two boys and decided to make the sacrifice.

Brenda never abandoned Jairo and Carlito emotionally, and she stayed in touch with them often. The money she made was sent home to provide for her sons. It took several years before Brenda moved back to Honduras and Jairo had certainly changed a lot. His mom now had a husband and wanted everyone to move to Guatemala. Jairo was no longer interested in school and his dream was to buy a cow.

Jairo did join the rest of the newly blended family in Guatemala but it didn’t last long. He is an extremely mature and independent boy and wanted to return to his native Honduras. When he moved back, he was only 14 years old and would be living on his own. We worried how he would survive, what would he do with his life, and how would be resist the temptations of drugs and other dangers?

We did assure Jairo that if he was willing to follow a few of our rules, we would help pay for his school and food. Jairo has become a class leader and has a job six days a week with a local farmer. Ana acts as his surrogate mother, attending teacher conferences. When we are in Flores, Jairo moves into our house and we become “family.” He couldn’t be happier than when he’s doing a construction project with Tom, helping “our” younger children with their homework, or cooking a meal with (or for) me.

This young man is one special person and we are blessed to have him for our Godson. Keep up the great work, Jairo!

The Harsh Reality in the Lack of Medical Resources

Denis Javier Acosta Gallardo

This past week I was hit with a nasty viral bug. It came on suddenly and wiped me out quickly. I chugged a variety of medications, slept as much as I could and anxiously awaited relief. But while I waited, I thought of people in Honduras who are faced with similar common illnesses and those who suffer from far greater ones. How much harder they endure and with far less complaining than me!

After years of working in the medical field of Honduras, we’ve been accustomed to a shortage of supplies in medicine and equipment, but things have become worse. Last fall we learned about hospitals having to cancel surgeries because they lacked oxygen. Now, there are 28 public hospitals having to postpone surgeries because they lack basic operating materials.

It’s alarming to hear this news which tremendously impacts the general population, putting the majority of Hondurans at risk. We also witnessed this personally, in our village of Flores, with a neighbor suffering from Guillean-Barre Syndrome. This illness struck the nervous system of a healthy 18 year old, and now poses life-threatening complications.

This situation would be terrifying enough for any family but imagine facing the monumental task of coming up with $15.00 a day for the medication when that exceeds your daily income? And then…facing the obstacle of actually finding a place that has the medication available? That’s just the beginning…the mom couldn’t have been more appreciative of the basic supplies (gloves, gauze, oxygen tubing) which we could provide. These items were not available in town and she didn’t have the resources to look elsewhere.

We’ll continue to collect as many resources as we can, and deliver them in March. Hopefully, there will be additional aid on a National level, as well.