Today was definitely a whirlwind! It was a super busy 14 hour day but overall an amazing experience. We woke up this morning at 6am and ate a hearty breakfast before heading to the village of San Rafael. We loaded up our two pick-up trucks with medications and medical supplies and took off into the mountains. This year though is special. On top of having the Honduran governmental logo on our trucks, we now had the pleasure having an additional Canadian logo as well! Our host, Dr. Mabel, proudly showed us the side of the truck this morning, prior to our departure to the first village.
At a round 6:30AM, we piled into the trucks and started our 2 and a half hour journey into the mountains to the village of San Rafael in the region of Lempira. The roads in Honduras are nothing like the roads in North America. They are extremely narrow, steep and not to mention filled with huge pot holes. Imagine the trip, one side of the car staring off of a cliff, and the other side at a mountain side. Needless to say, there is definitely no space for two cars on these roads. Although we only travled about 60 kilometers its took us over two hours beause the truck had to drive slowly in order to avoid oncoming traffic, children on the side of the road, wild dogs, horses, chickens and even fallen electrical wires! It was quite an adventure getting there but the landscapes in the mountains were breath taking. The best part of the trip was arriving, there were so many people waiting that the truck couldn't event drive down the road (see picture below).
We receved a warm welcome by the mayor of San Rafael who gave a speech thanking us for coming. It is still overwhelming to see that our little gesture makes such a difference to the people of this town. After our welcome, we got straight to work unloading the truck and unpacking the boxes so that we could set up the pharmacy and the examination room in the local school.
It took a little bit of time to arrange logistics of how to set up the pharmacy and the examination area. Good thing the locals were quite helpful in setting up a registration and providing chairs and table to arrange our room. They were quite organized and had already numbered on a first come first serve basis the people who had come as early as at 6am to visit us. When everything was set up, we had barely started seeing children that we heard a rumour that the number to see today would surpass the 100s.
What became even more clear to us was that the children in this city were really sick. Kids with pneumonia, malnutrition and some children with fairly rare conditions were coming our ways. It was heartbreaking at times to not be able to offer much, especially for the children with surgical issues.
Meet this little 3yo boy. He was quite cooperative and quite sweet. His mother explained to us that he was having food coming up to his nose and he ate and drink. It only took one look for us to see that he had a hole on the roof of his mouth from a cleft palate. We will be able to organize for him to see a surgeon in the capital of Tegucigalpa so that it can be repaired.
Meet this adorable 3yo girl. She was born with a rare affliction steaming from a collagen defect. This is called ectodermal dysplasia. She is losing her hair, has sensitive and fair skin and she only has 2 teeth. We will provide this girl with dental assistance from local dentist to make her dentures so that she can eat better.
One of the thing we enjoyed the most though was the integration of local doctors in our mission. They also were seeing patients with us. Their expertise in terms of local resources and common diseases to their population was invaluable! Thank goodness they were present to support our team.
Summary of the day: we saw a total of 220 patients aged newborn to 16. We were able to provide antibiotics for children with respiratory infections and puffers for those with asthma like symptoms. Multiple children benefitted from vitamins, creams for skin infections and analgesic for pain and so on. The medication boxes from Health Partners International, sponsored by Merck Canada and by our generous donors were an essential part of the mission today.
Tomorrow will bring new adventures I am sure. Until then though, we are all more than ready for a well deserved nights rest.
Hasta Luego everyone!!