Easter Blessings

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Recently, we returned from 18 days in Honduras. During our stay, we were introduced to new patients including a young woman, “Katherine”, who visited us with her foster mother. She had moved from her home because her mother suffers from severe mental illness and it was an unhealthy environment. Katherine’s symptoms included severe headaches, blurred vision and a deep fear “she was going crazy.” Tom took a medical history, did an eye exam and spoke with a neurologist we had recently met in Comayagua. He arranged for an appointment the next day, and also found a trustworthy place to perform a CT scan.

Thankfully, the neurologist agreed with Tom’s initial assessment, Katherine was suffering from migranes, and although they can be incapacitating, it wasn’t what she truly feared, or anything life threatening. The day after Katherine’s medical exams were completed, we received the letter below which was kindly translated by Esperanza supporter, Ursula Millard.

Dear Doctor and his Wife,

I am very grateful for what you have done for me. I cannot pay for it, but I know that God will bless you wherever you go because you do something very special. Thank you, thank you, and thank you very much. I know that God brought you to my life, and you have been such a blessing. I wish you the best always. I will always remember you. You are people with a great heart and I know that God will always be with you and will make you stronger. With the blood of Christ bless you always. Thank you. I appreciate it with all my heart. I love you very much.

If God is with you nothing can harm you.

Do not be afraid nor give up because The Lord is with you.

I love you a lot. I love you a lot.

Katherine Ramos

As we celebrate Easter today, we are reminded of the many blessings in our lives. Receiving Katherine’s letter was quite humbling and once again we realize the gifts we receive from others far outweighs the efforts we make.

Update on Ostin

Ana and Ostin

This afternoon I received a text message from Peggy Kipps (Ruth Paz Foundation) that the long awaited drug (OK-432) has safely arrived from Japan. I was filled with both excitement and relief, and immediately called Ana (Hernandez) to share the news. Tom, Ana and I had been discussing this case last night because Ostin’s mother, Carla, had called to say Ostin was having more difficulty breathing. Tom was concerned that his fear Ostin would suffocate, was becoming a reality.

Ana, her sister, and a doctor from Flores went to Ostin’s house to share the news that help was on its way. The extended family gathered round, rejoicing in praise, for answered prayers.

Peggy is now in the process of coordinating with Dr. Lopez and the hospital administration for Ostin’s arrival. It is expected that he will be initially hospitalized for 4-5 days. His family anxiously awaits word for when they need to head to San Pedro Sula…and we will be there every step of the way. We are filled with gratitude that this little baby will have a chance at life.

Visiting Flores in December 2010

At the beginning of last month, Tom and I spent 10 days in Honduras. Our main objective was completing the process of obtaining Astrid Ordonez’ medical visa. Ana Hernandez had already started the process by obtaining Astrid’s passport and visiting the lawyer with Astrid’s parents (to give temporary legal custody to us). We needed to complete the new online application (a more taxing process)  for the U.S. Embassy interview. Peggy Kipps (Ruth Paz Foundation) assisted us with arranging the appointment and writing a letter of support.With their help, we were able to have Astrid’s visa expedited.

During our time in Honduras, we spent time at the Centro de Salud (Health Center) and donated our generous supplies provided by Brother’s Brother Foundation. The medications were primarily antibiotics, and were so enthusiastically received by this clinic which exists on very limited means.

There were many new cases anxiously awaiting Tom’s arrival. Two of the children had cerebral palsy, and were hoping for a “cure” so that their children would walk. Sadly, families are often given very limited information from the doctors, and Tom spent a long time with each mother, compassionately describing their conditions and what to expect for their future development. He strongly encouraged them to have their children involved with physical therapy, and also told them that children with C.P. are often not effected (negatively) intellectually. On a brighter note, one of our patients, 12 year old, “Iris Maria” , who has C.P. has made dramatic improvement! Maria had stopped attending school, and was confined to her home and carried from her bed to the living room. Through therapy and hard work, she is now up walking and attending school. One afternoon, she and her family walked to our home and proudly presented us with a letter of gratitude and told us her dream is to study to become a lawyer! Tom and I were filled with tears of joy.

One evening, Ana arrived with a young couple and their 6 month old baby. The family had just been told that their baby was in need of cardiac surgery and they were consumed by fear and helplessness. Tom reviewed the medical reports and assured them he would talk with Hector Fonseca, a trusted cardiologist in San Pedro Sula. We feel very fortunate that our network has grown and we have professionals to refer patients locally. Dr. Fonseca was extremely accommodating and saw this child the following day. It was a great relief when he told the parents that “Adrianna’s” condition could be treated with medication and the child did not need surgery. Since then, the child has returned to Dr. Fonsecaand made dramatic improvement. Dr. Fonseca expressed his frustration about incompetent Honduran doctors who dispense incorrect diagnosis/treatment.

Unfortunately, our village of Flores has become more dangerous. In the past, it was the cities where you needed to be very cautious, but it is now seeping into the little barrios.

Flores is divided by a two-lane highway, and on one side there is a real discrepancy of services…the public school located there does not have electricity, the classes are over crowded, and there is no playground. There is no access to clean water.

Astrid’s mother and little brother live in the heart of the worst area. For several years, it has been on our “wish list” for Esperanza to help this desperately poor family. who live in squalor conditions, to improve their living situation. Astrid’s grandfather has donated a tiny piece of land for us to begin building a new home for this family. Construction is under way for the first phase of building two bedrooms and an indoor bathroom.

Astrid’s life is being positively effected in many ways. Besides having a new place to live, she has been sponsored by Charlie and Nancy Morrison of Concord, to attend a bilingual school in Comayagua. This would be an incredible opportunity for any child, but is even more important for Astrid because her neighborhood school is located in the drug area. It is so dangerous, we were not allowed to visit it, even during the day light hours. Astrid’s teacher is thoroughly impressed by Astrid’s rapid learning and her future is looking brighter!

Astrid was admitted to Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, MA. on December 28th and had surgery the following day. Four years ago, Astrid was operated there for a “tethered” (spinal) cord. She had her first of two operations on her left, “cavus” foot. Currently, Astrid’s mobility is impaired by this foot deformity. The next surgery is scheduled for January 11th, when they will cut through the bone and re-shape her foot. Following surgery, she will be non-weight bearing for eight weeks (wheelchair and walker). It will be a long winter, but we are so grateful for this opportunity and very thankful to David Dvaric, M.D. and all the wonderful doctors/staff for providing her care.

Trip to Honduras

On January 14, 2010 we traveled to Flores, Honduras where we spent 10 days working within the community. This is our ninth year offering free medical care, as well as, assistance with educational needs. During our visit we held medical and eye clinics, and visited current and future patients in their homes.We received supplies of medication, shoes and eye glasses from Brother’s Brother organization and First Sight. Along with the common problems of colds, pain and parasites, we were also introduced to patients with more significant problems including: extra digits, neurological disorders, growth in the mouth, congenital glaucoma, ambiguous genitalia, and a heart defect. Fortunately, over the years we built a trustworthy support system within country. We work with The Ruth Paz Foundation and Mrs. Peggy Kipps is able to refer us to local doctors and arrange visits to American brigades. Our coordinator, Ana Hernandez, arranges and transports all of our patients and provides us with ongoing follow-up.