With The Medical Brigades… (Part 3)

These thoughts and photos are from our recent trip to Honduras to spend time with our partners Global Brigades, and to see their operations first hand.  To read Part One of “With the Medical Brigades…”, click here. Part Two, here.  And remember to click the pics to see full-size.

Photo courtesy: An Ngo, UCI Medical Brigader

Day three of three with the Medical Brigades in Honduras had us following a Brigade made up mostly of students from the University of California – Irvine.  And like the previous two days, following breakfast the Brigaders loaded onto a bus, and Emma and I, along with medicines from the Ready Relief Box™ loaded into pick-up trucks and the caravan rolled out from Global Brigades’ main compound at the Rapaco Hacienda.

Our destination was Santa Rosa, another small community up in the mountains about two hours east of Tegucigalpa.  Along the way we made a prearranged stop at a family’s home to take a look at the conditions many Hondurans live in.  For someone not used to traveling overseas it can be an eye-opening experience.  Especially for an American college student.  The home was plain and simple.  Adobe-style mud bricks supported by lumber hewed from the nearby forest.  Inside was roomy but spartan, dark and cool.

The two or three rooms inside are for living, sleeping and such.  The other spaces i.e. the bathroom and the kitchen, were outside.As the members of the Medical Brigade were given the tour, a young woman worked in the minimalist kitchen, preparing the family’s food.  Under a tarp to shield from the bright sun and over a narrow workbench she kneaded corn flour, turning the dough into hand-pressed tortillas which then went onto a wood-fire stove.  The stove was adobe brick itself and attached to the outside of the home.  A pot of beans bubbled next to the two ‘burners’ occupied by the tortillas.

This was an opportunity to showcase another area Global Brigades works in – Public Health.  GB’s Public Health Brigades help to raise the living standards in numerous Honduran homes by building showers and latrines, and installing eco-stoves to redirect the constant cooking smoke away from the home and the lungs of the occupants.  They’re working on those projects with the family we visited.  From there, it was back in the caravan, and off to Santa Rosa.  This was the smallest, or at least most spread out, community we visited during the week with the Medical Brigades.  Again we were at a high-elevation, but this town was nestled in a broad valley, more of a rural farming village.

The Brigade from UC Irvine was set up in the village’s old three room schoolhouse and in a new school under construction from the Architecture Brigades.  This day was actually rather quiet.  Not that many people showed to attend the clinic.  As we learned, in the weeks prior to a Medical Brigade clinic, GB staff visit several communities surrounding the clinic location and coordinate which day the community will attend the clinic.  Town A on Day 1, Town B on Day 2 and so forth.  And this day just so happened to be slower than the others. Several dozen patients.  But we learned afterwards, the UCI Medical Brigade treated more than 800 patients during their three-day clinic.

Once again, like with the other Medical Brigades, this one ran smoothly and efficiently.  Check-in, triage, doctor’s “office”, pharmacy and the dental section for adults and children.  And I must say, it was rather amazing to see how patient the children were, as students and GB staffers filled their mouths with trays of fluoride goo, and not see one complain or even pitch a fit.

It was yet another fantastic day in Honduras.



Next, we’ll hear from my traveling partner Emma to get her thoughts on the Honduras trip, working with Global Brigades and how the Ready Relief Box™ was put to use.