Reading Break 2016 : My Relief Mission to Honduras
After 27 hours of traveling back from Tegucigalpa, I can’t wait to write about my unforgettable experience of aiding in the delivery of medical/dental relief to communities in rural Honduras.
This was my third relief mission to Central America, my previous two being Honduras in 2012 and Panama in 2014. Both times, I had eye-opening and inspiring experiences, but this year’s trip even more so.
Our group set up a mobile clinic in a school within the community of San Agustin, which has a population of approximately 5600 people. The clinic consisted of seven stations: triage, consult, dental, optometry, pharmacy, and charla.
Triage: In this station, patients are admitted and their basic personal/familial medical information and history is taken. Other information such as blood pressure, height, and weight is also taken.
Consult: Here, patients are able to see physicians and explain their chief complaints. Doctors make a diagnosis and prescribe the necessary medication before sending the patient to the pharmacy.
Dental: Dental care in rural Honduras is almost non-existent, so many people have rotting teeth and are in desperate need of extractions or fillings. Here, patients receive essential dental procedures to alleviate any discomfort they are having.
Optometry: This was the first time UVic’s Medical Brigades club had an optometry station, and boy, was it cool! Patients undergo a series of vision tests to assess whether they are near-sighted or far-sighted, and the proper glasses are dispensed to them. It was truly rewarding to see the excitement on the faces of those who had been unable to see properly for a long time, suddenly being able to see everything clearly.
Pharmacy: Here, patients collect medications that have been prescribed to them by the dentists and physicians. All patients receive multivitamins, plus any other necessary medications.
Charla: This is definitely the most fast-paced of all stations! The children of the clinic’s patients come here to learn the basics of hand-washing, brushing teeth, and also receive fluoride treatments. The kids were excited to see us and very enthusiastic to learn about making healthy choices. When I was in charla, I was given the name ‘Batman,’ which stuck for the entire four days of our clinic.
Although it was a motivating and inspiring experience to help those less fortunate than us, it was just as inspiring to see the optimism, happiness, and motivation within the members of the San Agustin community.
Another huge part of this trip is the close friendships you make in the span of only a week. You go from being total strangers to being a tight-knit and cohesive group, which is a truly rewarding experience. These are unbreakable bonds and timeless memories that will stick with our group for many years to come.
In the span of only four days, our group was able to tend to 1170 patients, providing them with medication, glasses, and dental procedures such as extractions. The dedication UVic’s Medical Brigades team has towards the concern, helping, and caring of others is inspiring, and I’m honored to call them my close friends.
It’s sad that my third brigade has come to an end, but I’m on top of world because of the unforgettable experience that I’ve had.
Working with UVic’s Global Medical Brigades club has been a major highlight of my undergraduate career. Some my most memorable times and closest friends have been made through this club, and I would recommend it to anyone at UVic.