Volunteering in Honduras, by Kimberly P

In October, 2014, I went on a medical missionary trip to the Clinica Medica San Lucas, in Gracias, Honduras.  I went with my parents, who had been to Gracias several times before.

From their previous trips they had told me that there was a large need for eye glasses, in Western Honduras and that bringing eyeglasses with us was a must for the next trip. In Honduras there are few opticians for the people who live in the rural areas of the country.  The closest optician, to Gracias, is in Santa Rosa de Copan, over 1 hour away.  For people in the rural areas outside of Gracias, the distance, and time required to get to Santa Rosa is much greater.

I decided to collect donations to be able to purchase the eye glasses needed.  As time was getting closer and more money was being donated I ended up with over $700 for the eye glasses.

I purchased the eye glasses on-line from Dollar General, so that way they were in the original packaging, and had them delivered to a local Dollar General Store. 

I also asked for donations of Beanie Babies for the children of Honduras. Beanie Babies don’t sound like much, but when you give a child, who has almost nothing, a Beanie Baby, they treat it as though you just handed them a million dollars. Not only does it make a child smile, but during operations such as getting their teeth pulled, the Beanie Baby acts as a safety blanket and they are no longer scared.  Over the next couple of months I collected over 1,600 beanie babies.  We brought about half of them with us to Honduras. 

Supplies for Honduras, eyeglasses & Beanie Babies

When the time came to leave for Honduras my thoughts about going started to change. At first I was a bit wary about it and didn’t think I could handle being in a situation as this one. I had many people ask me the same question “Are you excited?” but I didn’t have an answer that would satisfy their question, or what I was feeling. I simply smiled and said “Yeah.”  Even though the trip to Honduras scared me, I knew that I would be going to help people in need.

When my parents and I left for Honduras, we carried a total of nine suitcases. Three were for our personal belongings, and the other six were full of the supplies I had collected.

Arriving in San Pedro Sula

My main duties, in Honduras, were to help in the villages, outside of Gracias, along with the doctors and dentists and other assistants. The first village we visited was San Marcos de Caiquin.  My job was to hand out deworming medicine to children one years old to twelve years old.

Deworming medicine is exactly what it sounds like, a medicine to prevent children from getting intestinal worms. 

Handing out meds in San Marcos de Caiquin

I handed out medicine for most of the 1st day. When I wasn’t doing that I was allowed to walk around and observe the dentists or doctors.

The second time in the village I helped in the Pharmacy area.  While in the Pharmacy we set up an area for a volunteer optician, from Santa Rosa, named Juan Carlos, to give people the eye care they needed.

Juan Carlos performing eye exams

I also directed people to the doctors and organized patients waiting in line. I used what poco Spanish I knew and spoke to the patients waiting to see the doctors.

One day I did not travel to the villages, but stayed at the Clinic where the surgeries were happening.  I helped out in the sterilization area.

Sterilizing O.R. Instruments

 Another volunteer and I had to clean the medical instruments in bleach water after every surgery. Then after we washed them the instruments were put into the sterilizer.  Some of the surgeries took several hours.  During this down time, I didn’t have to sterilize, and the surgeons allowed me into the O.R. to watch the surgeries. 

Observing in the O.R.

I only spent one day in the Clinic, the rest of the days I was in the villages giving more deworming medicine. The dentists let me watch them, too, and I also helped sterilize some of the dentist’s instruments and tools.

This whole experience for me was life changing. I always took advantage of where I live and come from. I had never met anyone with the troubles the people in Honduras have. When you live in a world where you can have clean water whenever you want, and are able to take a shower whenever you want, you don’t realize how truly great you’re living.

No one understands how easy most people who live in the United States have it nowadays. We don’t have to wait for it to rain to be able to shower. We can just go into our bathroom and take one. We don’t have to question when the next time we’ll have a full meal will be, because we know it’ll be either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We don’t have to reuse the same outfit five times a week before having to wash it. We change our clothes every day, some of us even change outfits three times a day.

All these things surround our daily lives and we don’t even take ten seconds to appreciate where we live, and how we live. All you ever hear is people complaining about the smallest things that often won’t even matter five minutes later. After being in Honduras, or any third world country, you start to look at the simplest of things differently.

I spent eight days in Honduras and had to live off of bottled water so I could have clean, fresh water. I now look at water differently, because I know that Hondurans don’t have clean water like I do, just any water for them is fine.

The entire trip to rural Honduras opened my eyes and made me realize that I am so lucky to live where I do. The United States truly does not have it hard, at all, compared to other countries. I’ll just never understand why people have the audacity to complain over the smallest things and not stop to think how blessed they are that they don’t live in a third world country.

Another insight I gained on this trip is that it has showed me what I want to pursue as my future career. Before going on this trip I had my mind set on being a lawyer. I thought nothing could change my mind; this is what I was meant to do. Then when I got back home and returned to school I started to think about whether or not I could truly see myself as a lawyer.

Did I truly see myself, ten, fifteen, years from now sitting behind a computer, or in court dealing with a legal case, or did I see myself working thru God to help people who can’t help themselves?

The epiphany hit me that I wasn’t meant to be a lawyer, I was meant to help people. I have always been interested in the workings of the human mind, and that’s when I realized I wanted to be a psychologist. Serving with the Luke Society, in Honduras, provided me the insight to understand how I could better use my interests and talents for God’s good.