Tela Fire Department
Vermont-Hands to Honduras-Tela (H2H-T) provided the Tela Fire Department with four 12 inch mag flashlights; four 5 inch emergency cones; 25 safety alarm signals; numerous firefighter jackets, helmets, boots and overalls. These items were presented by H2H-T volunteers along with two rebuilt alternators and one drive belt (per the request of the firefighters) for the ambulance. During the week, the ambulance makes emergency runs. Each weekend, the ambulance is parked, with lights flashing, on the beach (in front of Hotel Sherwood). Two ambulance drivers watch and wait for emergencies. Volunteers witnessed the ambulance traveling to accidents three times during the H2H-T service trip.
Tela Police Department
The request from the Tela police department this year was for “3 B’s” – belts, boots and bullet proof vests. The police received more than their requests – H2H-T provided 10 new mag flashlights with orange cones (for accidents); 8 bullet proof vests; 10 pair of new esposas (handcuffs) 7 of these for the police and 3 for the CIA; orange safety vests; police caps with removable rain covers; heavy duty police belts with radio holders to go on the belts; gun holsters to go on the belts; tennis type shoes to wear when on a police bike; black police shoes; black neckties (corbatas) to wear with police uniform (for dress up).
Lancetilla School – 35 students
Lancetilla is a very poor community located in a mountainous rain forest above the Lancetilla Botanical Garden about 5 miles from downtown Tela. The community needed a school because the owner of the property, where the classes were currently being held, wanted the building returned for his own private use. Since there are no roads to the area, building supplies came by tractor part of the way and part by horse. This project to construct a school was a tough one for H2H-T because of the difficult terrain…but became a favorite of the volunteers. In many instances, concrete blocks were carried up the mountain one-by-one by H2H-T volunteers. The new school building is approximately 19 x 25 feet and has two large picture windows in the front for ventilation and light. The school was finished to the roof line by H2H-T and that is currently being installed.
An additional small latrine building was constructed to house two toilets (one for boys and one for girls). The toilets are surrounded by a covered patio structure where the children will be able to have lunch and recess.
Many school supplies and clothing were given to this school along with new uniforms for every child (see Uniform Project).
Las Palmas School Classroom – 76 Students
In 2009, H2H-T constructed a very large double size classroom in this poor rural area. In preparation for the 2010 trip, H2H-T had three large security doors installed and very heavy screened bar windows. This schoolroom is very secure now. In February, the entire interior and exterior of the new school classroom was prepared and painted by H2H-T volunteers. This was a very large painting project and community members enthusiastically assisted. The school teacher was given many children’s Spanish books, school supplies dental supplies, clothing and soccer balls. New uniforms were provided for every child in need in the classroom (see Uniform Project).
Jazmin School – 70 Students
In 2009, H2H-T constructed and equipped a 14’ x 9’ kitchen and patio; installed a UV water purification system; latrines were refurbished and electric cable was installed; the school classroom and kitchen were painted and beautiful murals were painted inside and outside the school. In 2008, we built a classroom at this very poor rural school. 2010, H2H-T inspected the water system and found additional work required to make the system function correctly. The problem was solved with the purchase of a new bomb and a water container installed. The school teacher Julia was given many children’s Spanish books, school supplies dental supplies, clothing and soccer balls. H2H-T supplied numerous requested items (see Principle Necessities Project).
Gravil Avelar School – 250 Students
The UV water purification system that H2H-T installed in 2009 was inspected and it is working properly. A water test was taken. The school has developed a regular maintenance program for the water system. H2H-T volunteers were very happy to see the school spotlessly clean – the children clean the school at the end of each day. The school teacher was given many children’s Spanish books, school supplies dental supplies, clothing and soccer balls. Last year, H2H-T renovated a dilapidated building and it became a kindergarten and first grade classroom and painted this building and the entire exterior of the school.
Jubilados School – 320 Students
H2H-T installed a UV water purification system in 2009, and this was inspected. The water testing was ok, the water is good to be consumed. The Jubilados’ problem was solved, the membrane of the wáter pump had damaged but the Juventud supplier changed the part for a new one, so now it’s working properly. The new sinks have not been installed because they’re still preparing the surface were the sinks are going to go. The school has developed a regular maintenance program for the system.
Rehab Therapies Center
H2H-T leaders went to test the water at the Center, but the UV Water System had been completely disconnected because the water filter was dirty, so the water could not be tested. Since the Center’s piping system throughout the building has been exposed to the city’s dirty water, it will need to be flushed and cleaned out completely with a heavy chlorine treatment. Three new filters were brought in March to the center by the H2H-T team, and one filter was installed. The other two are for backup replacement.
Child Care Center Projects
IHNFA Child Care – Painting, Repairs, Plumbing
In 2009, H2H-T constructed two classrooms, approximately 45’ x 24’ to allow the center to add 60 additional students to their program…making a total of 120 children. The 2010 projects included the preparation and painting of the rooms – interior and two tone exterior. This was a very large painting project, and the volunteers did a superb job. All of the jalosy windows were inspected and a number of the windows were replaced and the opening mechanisms were replaced as needed.
The younger H2H-T volunteers, after their stint with rollers, were pressed into service picking up some of the omnipresent trash within the yard. All the trash was consolidated in three piles and these were picked up by the city during the second week. The end result was a greatly-improved look for the classrooms and it was in time for a community fair held the following weekend.
Carpentry and plumbing repairs included fixing defective toilets; repairing a dozen children’s wood chairs; repairing a main security door; mounting the H2H-T plaque on the newly painted building. The “UV Water Purification System”, installed in 2009 by H2H-T, was inspected. Minor adjustments were made and water sample tests were completed.
Campo Elvir Day Care Center – Construction of New Classroom
A community day care center about 15 minutes by 4 wheel drive access from the center of Tela needed a new classroom to help house the 60 children. H2H-T constructed a kindergarten classroom approximately 20 x 24 ft. H2H-T supplied the materials and volunteer labor and many many volunteers from the community helped daily with the construction. This project became a favorite of the volunteers as the community is so welcoming and so helpful; and there is a great need here. School supplies and clothing were given to the teacher; one of our volunteers helped with the teaching in the classroom. Three days after the blocks were laid, the classroom was structurally completed. Roofing, installation of doors and windows, concrete floor and patio (all paid by H2H-T) is currently being completed by the mason and community volunteers. All construction is to be completed by the end of March, 2010.
Other past H2H-T projects at Campo Elvir included building a kitchen so the children could have daily meals and the construction of latrines.
Health Center Projects
Puetro Arturo Health Clinic – Renovation and Latrines
The renovation of the Health Center at Puerto Arturo began in late September, 2009 with the replacement of the roof, improvement of the water system and installation of two flush toilets and two washbowls. This work was completed by a local contractor under the supervision of H2H-T as we knew that the roof would not make it through until we arrived in February. When the H2H-T volunteers arrived in Tela in mid-February, the renovation of the Center continued. Volunteers constructed two examination rooms, a nurse’s station, a room to store medical supplies and an administrative office. Lockable doors were installed in each of the five rooms and a large medical cabinet, constructed by an H2H-T volunteer, was affixed to the wall in the nurse’s station.
The exterior of the building required a great deal of cement work to fill holes and cracks. Two exterior walls of the building were skim-coated with mortar to provide a smooth surface for subsequent painting. The entire facility was painted inside in a blue tone and the exterior in a cream/yellow tone with a terracotta at the base. The end results of the painting process were very gratifying, and the volunteers worked diligently and happily in the small confined spaces. The exterior painting offered close visits by the neighboring cattle. Final completion – the window company in installing building glass in all the windows; Nurse Elba is having their employees clean the porch area; and an engineer will apply some chemicals so that the grass isn’t as high.
Buenos Aires Health Center – New Ceiling
The Women’s Health Brigade held a clinic at this health center, and it was noted that a ceiling was critically needed. One of the H2H-T volunteers made it his goal to supply the funds for this, and the project is currently underway, being supervised by Dr. Alvarenga. In addition, a badly needed new toilet seat was purchased and installed.
A fluoride clinic was held at IHNFA Child Care Center. Fluoride treatments, toothbrushes and toothpaste were provided to all of the children (age one year to 12 years) attending the morning program –approximately 35 children. The director of IHNFA was taught how to apply fluoride varnish and she applied the treatment to a number of children under our supervision. She was trained to do this so that she could provide fluoride treatment to children in the afternoon program and children in the day program who were not present. Fluoride varnish, sterile gauze, gloves were provided to treat all additional children along with a large supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste. The H2H-T physician provided a medical consultation for a woman with chronic sinusitis who works at IHNFA. Medications were obtained and purchased and treatment recommendations were provided for her in order to assist in decreasing her symptoms. One of the children at IHNFA was noted to have impetigo during the clinic, and an antibiotic ointment and instructions on how to apply it was provided to IHNFA staff in order to treat this child’s infection.
A second fluoride clinic was held at the school at Lancetilla. 50 toothbrushes and toothpaste were distributed to all of the students, and fluoride varnish was applied to all the students at the school that day – approximately 20 students between the ages of 5 – 14 years old. Due to the luxury of having a Spanish interpreter, a significant amount of time was spent with the teacher and the students talking about dental care, tooth brushing, and the importance of not drinking soda or other sugary drinks. Materials were left with the teacher so that she could apply the varnish to the approximately 15 students that were not at school that day.
The Pediatric Clinic was held at the Puerto Arturo Health Center on 2/19/10. Forty-two patients, mostly pediatric patients, were seen by volunteer Dr. S with Honduran nurse Elba. Dr. S. saw a garden variety of problems including impetigo, nail fungal infections, colds, asthma, eczema, vitiligo, and parasite infections. Each time Dr. S. saw a patient he tried to ascertain what Elba would do for the problems before offering an opinion. This seemed to be a good way to get started on a long-term relationship. Elba was asked what would help her at the clinic and the following items were requested: a baby scale, an adult scale, a cabinet for medicines, a gooseneck lamp, sheets to cover the exam tables, and a nebulizer. All were purchased and given by H2H-T….except the sheets. These are still on the list.
Women’s Health Clinic
The Women’s Health team (three nurse practitioners, one nurse, Dr. Alvarenga and his two assistants) provided five consecutive days of clinics to test for cervical cancer (and necessary follow up) and conduct breast exams. This is the fourth year that H2H-T has been conducting these clinics. They worked where the need was the greatest and poverty was at its highest – in very crowded, hot and non-ventilated rooms in the following health centers: Clinica de las Mujeres, Quatro de Enero, Puerto Arturo, Buenos Aires. The most unique experience for the team was to travel via boat for over an hour to the health center at Rio Tinto island. Over 169 women were seen and treated; and without these clinics, many cancers would not have been detected. Especially gratifying was the return to our clinics of two women who had been diagnosed by H2H-T in ’09 with cervical cancer and pre-cancer. They both sought treatment in San Pedro Sula soon after their diagnosis and are now disease free.
A generous anonymous donation of $1000 was given for the purchase of cryotherapy equipment. This is equipment which enables women with pre-cancer to be treated right at the time of service. The equipment was purchased and brought to Honduras. Unforeseen was the difficulty in acquiring the nitrous oxide tanks necessary for providing this “freezing” technique, as well as a confusing bureaucratic detail which does not allow doctors to offer this service without additional licensing. This equipment was not left in Honduras but Dr. A. has the desire to pursue this avenue further and hopes to make it possible in 2011. Offering this service in Tela would be a breakthrough in treatment options for women, as they now have to travel over an hour by bus to obtain this very simple service.
Rehab Therapies Center
As the Center has matured over the years, the H2H-T Rehab team took the opportunity to re-evaluate the role they would play in continuing to support the Center. It was agreed to strengthen the role as consultants regarding the care of the children and adults. The focus would be on problem solving with the staff, with an emphasis on self care, issues regarding feeding and nutrition, dressing and hygiene, and enhancing communications.
The patient focus also is on movement activities such as walking, the use of ambulatory aids and wheelchair management to foster the concept that independence is achieved through the use of many devices and not only when one walks on their own two feet.
The week’s activities included: Monday – children pre-identified by the staff were seen with their caregivers by the H2H-T team, including two children who were selected to participate in a conference arranged with the Vermont Interdisciplinary Leadership Education for Health Professionals (ILEHP) group at UVM using SKYPE on Thursday morning. Tuesday – the team and staff made home visits and in the afternoon visited CURE International in San Pedro Sula to discuss children referred for surgical interventions. Wednesday – saw children and adults and advised on their programs, presented a staff in-service session on feeding/nutrition, dressing and seating arrangements for children with disabilities, and held a Parents meeting covering the same in-service material. Thursday – in addition to the morning ILEHP presentation, the team met with individual patient groups, that meet regularly, to discuss their disabilities and their special needs. Friday – the team drove to La Ceiba to visit the “Crila” facility that is similar to the Center.
H2H-T 2010 project: a local carpenter is building a playground at the Center for the children with a system of climbing and sliding activities, a seesaw and a swing system to enhance therapy through recreation
The H2H-T Rehab team felt this trip was the most successful. Communications were open and candid. The staff has matured and has gained confidence in their treatment and outcomes. The Center currently serves 60 children and 40 adults and provides services five and a half days per week.
This is a first time project. The children in all schools wear uniforms….white shirts, navy blue slacks or navy blue pleated skirts. They cannot attend school unless they have a uniform. Many children’s parents cannot afford to buy a uniform. The cost for the shirts and skirts/pants is $10 to $16 (larger kids/higher cost). This year, H2H-T supplied uniforms for the children whose families cannot afford them – at two poor rural schools – Las Palmas and Lancetilla. A total of 80 uniforms were provided. H2H-T also provided six small size skirts to IHNFA.
This is an exceptionally rewarding project – the teachers make the request and let us know which children really need uniforms. Donations for this project came from our state-side community members, our H2H-T volunteers and even our hotel owner.
2011 we plan to add backpacks to the uniform project. We find that if we collect $25 per child, we can equip them with shirt, skirt/pants and a backpack. A good project for the youth volunteers for next year will be to fill the backpacks with pencils, notebook, etc.
Principle Necessities Project
This is a first year project. IHNFA made a list of what they consider their most needed ‘priniciple necessities’. Jazmin school did the same. This works well because we can purchase what they feel they really need. It also gives H2H-T the opportunity to support the economically depressed community of Tela with our purchases. We did could not get everything on their lists but did attempt to get many of the items.
IHNFA Child Care Center received: fire extinguisher; repaired cribs; Pampers; five large bath towels; school supplies/toys for the children; basic medicines and vitamins; for the kitchen – 5 large trays, 5 dozen cups, 5 dozen bowls, a blender, large pot to cook rice, a microwave; large trash can. Jazmin School: posters for the walls; school supplies; books for the children in Spanish; large trash can; and a bike for Julia the teacher. Julia walks one hour each way to teach at Jazmin. The idea of a bike for her was welcomed, and one of the H2H-T volunteers donated the majority for the bike with H2H-T picking up the remaining dollars. Julia was delighted to receive the bike making her daily trek to the school easier.
Lancetilla: 35 cups, bowls, spoons for the children’s lunches. With this, the school can now receive lunch supplies of rice, corn and beans – from the government.
Las Palmas: educational posters for the classroom; school supplies; books for the children in Spanish.
Two health care centers received:
Puerto Arturo requested and received: a gooseneck exam lamp; a baby scale; an adult scale; medicines; vitamins; medical supplies; blood pressure pumps; stethoscope; stadiometer (to measure height). Also given to Elba – many small new infant baby clothes and diapers to give to the new mothers. Quatro de Enero requested and received: a gooseneck exam lamp
Rio Tinto, Buenos Aires; Quatro de Enero; Puerto Arturo and Clinica de la mujer received medical supplies; medicines; bandages; and numerous medical items from the H2H-T Women’s Health Clinic nurses.
H2H-T donated hundreds of pounds of clothing; shoes; school and office supplies; toys; sports equipment; fire fighter equipment and supplies; medical equipment; medicines; vitamins; sewing equipment; hair salon supplies; 25 soccer balls; kitchen utensils and supplies; rehabilitation supplies and equipment; tools; computers; toiletries…. to the health centers, hospital, fire department, police department, nursing home, rehab therapies center, schools, families and children.
H2H-T volunteers continue to be overwhelmed by the simplicity and gentleness of the Honduran people – they expect so little and are so warm and inwardly happy with what we do to help.