The 2012 Hands to Hondurans – Tela (H2H-T) humanitarian January/February service trip was very successful thanks to 54 volunteers who worked enthusiastically and tirelessly. The teamwork, caring, positive attitudes, enthusiasm, learning, camaraderie, and joy that took place made all of the year-long preparations and efforts exceed expectations. Below is an outline of the accomplished projects.
Hogar Materno (Tela Center for Expectant Mothers)
After over a year of very hard work by H2H-T volunteers to design, begin the foundation, construct the 40 x 50’ facility, paint interior and exterior, add septic and electric, furnish, landscape, and finally dedicate – it is a joy for all H2H-T volunteers and supporters to see that expectant Tela moms now have a comfortable and safe space to wait until the birth of their baby.
Reconstruction of Rooms at Old Tela Hospital
The Old Tela Hospital (UMIS) is now the Administrative Center for Tela’s Health Centers. Upon request by the Administrator, H2H-T volunteers restored electrical power to (a huge job!) three unoccupied rooms and refurbished/ reconstructed/installed new windows and doors/painted these rooms (which were in very bad repair) for occupation as exam rooms for this wing of the health center. The team was also asked to rewire the wing for air conditioning.
Cuatro de Enero Health Center
Cuatro de Enero is a very overcrowded rural health center which treats hundreds of families in the San Juan area of Tela. This project involved the renovation and completion of a recently constructed 20 x 30’ addition to the existing health care facility. Renovations included restructuring of exam rooms, replacement of an existing leaking roof, installation of toilets and sinks, septic hookup, installation of windows and doors, new concrete entrance and walkway. Further renovations and painting will be completed in 2013 by H2H-T.
Tres De Mayo School – 35 students
This rural agricultural school had been started with a cement block classroom frame – the dirt floor was overgrown with vegetation. The bathroom was constructed but incomplete. H2H-T took on the completion -had a roof installed, then H2H-T volunteers completed the interior of the classroom, installed floor, windows, doors, completely painted interior and exterior, created exterior concrete walkways, completed the bathroom, provided news desks for all students and the teacher along with new uniforms for the students.
Las Palmas School – 76 Students
H2H-T painted the three latrines, washroom and teacher’s bathroom that H2H-T built in 2011.
Jazmin School – 70 Students
H2H-T installed a fence surrounding the school grounds to keep the roaming animals out of the school yard; installed a wooden entrance gate; repaired leaking holes in the roof; installed a basketball hoop; and helped with maintenance of electrical issues and minor water and plumbing repairs.
Day Care / Kinder Projects
Campo Elvir Day Care/Kinder
New Kitchen: Campo Elvir requested an outdoor kitchen be built because the current interior kitchen was very small and very hot. The open design is 12’ x 14’ with 5’ cement block walls with open cyclone fencing above on three sides, one solid wall on the side adjacent to the hill. A slanting overhang roof that prevents from rain entering the building covers the facility. H2H-T volunteers worked with a local mason to construct the kitchen.
New Playground: In 2011, H2H-T built and installed a new cement retaining wall and new protective fencing, so in 2012, H2H-T had a local carpenter build and install some playground equipment for the kids to enjoy….swing set, and monkey bars. And new white beach sand was spread to cushion those untimely falls.
IHNFA Child Care Center
H2H-T funded the labor and materials for a new roof to cover the main section of the Child Care Center. One of the main classrooms was unusable due to holes in the roof and birds camping out and leaving their deposits in the room. Now the large room is safe for the children for use as a small library and work/sleep/play area.
Women’s Health Brigade (6th year of H2H-T clinics)
The women’s health brigade offered breast and cervical cancer screening to the women of the greater Tela area for five consecutive days of clinics. Total patients seen – 243; Total # Pap’s – 195; Total # biopsies – 11.
The H2H-T brigade leaders feel that the screening they offer is making a difference in Tela. In the past 5 years 1045 women have been screened. They have found about 8 cervical cancers and numerous pre-cancers, as well as breast cancer. All of these women have obtained treatment and are now disease free.
The H2H-T pediatric team had a variety of experiences: helped set up and assisted the H2H-T Dermatology Clinic at the Tela Hospital; met and shadowed several physicians; saw patients in the neonatal unit; had the opportunity to shadow the Tela hospital pediatrician on ward rounds and attend two C-sections (and arranged for two HTH-T youth volunteers the opportunity to witness the C-sections.) The team saw patients at the H2H-T Rehabilitation Center, and they returned to Puerto Arturo Health Center and saw 18 patients.
Skin Health and Dermatology Brigade
This was the first year that a dermatologist accompanied the H2H-T group. There is no dermatologist in Tela, and the general Honduran population does not have access to a skin care specialist. Over 100 patients were seen in the out-patient department of the Tela Hospital. The 2012 H2H-T dermatologic health brigade was a success on several levels. Not only were many individuals seen and treated for skin disease, but an ongoing legacy was left by the education of local health providers and the donation of essential medical equipment.
Rehab Therapies Center
The Rehab Therapies team clinical focus this year was hearing, communication, speech and language services at the Center. Additional activities included: staff training, provided consultation and support for individual children, their family members and their therapists; planned and carried out a video conference call to UVM’s ILEHP Program as a staff development activity; met with Tela nutritionist regarding nutrition support for medically malnourished children; provided therapy and medical equipment; and met with representatives from CIARH, a consortium of rehab facilities in Honduras to which the Center has recently been admitted.
The H2H-T Dental clinic this year was held at UMIS- Tela from Feb. 4 – Feb. 11. There were an average of 50-70 extractions per day, and over 300 teeth were extracted during the five clinic days – all by one H2H-T dentist, three assistants, three translators! Also the H2H-t dentist trained a H2H-T youth volunteer to perform three days of fluoride clinics just outside the small dental clinic room. It was an amazing week!
Five days of fluoride clinics were conducted by the H2H-T team of adult and youth volunteers and translators at the following schools: Tres de Mayo School – 81 treatments; Campo Elvir Day Care/Kinder – 94 treatments; Mir a Mar School – 133 treatments; Puerto Arturo Health Care Center – demonstrations for the nurses; IHNFA Child Care Center – demonstrations for the teachers. Overall H2H-T distributed about 1000 fluorides, 1000 toothbrushes, and about 750 miniature toothpastes. Dental education was given to the children and teachers.
Tela Police Department
H2H-T supplied the Tela Police with five bulletproof vests obtained from the Vermont State Police. The vests were very much appreciated by the new team at the police department.
Tela Bomberos (Fire Department)
H2H-T supplied the Bomberos with 35 new good quality white shirts that they had requested along with six new mag flashlights and six walkie-talkies with battery chargers.
Donations and Necessities Project
We cannot possibly count how much was given. We filled the 4th floor of Hotel Sherwood with all the donated goods. It took several days to sort all and distribute to the very grateful Hondurans. Partial list: school supplies, clothing, medical supplies, x-ray view boxes, medicine, toys, shoes, sports equipment and uniforms, kitchen supplies, food processor for IHNFA, thousands of toothbrushes, over 200 bars of soap, children’s books, etc.
Children in Tela schools are not supposed to attend school unless they have a uniform. H2H-T leaders received requests from school teachers for school uniforms for the less fortunate children whose families could not provide uniforms. The cost of the shirt, skirt or slacks with belt ranges from $20 to $25, based on size. H2H-T supplied 104 uniforms (shirts, skirts, pants) for the needy school children plus some socks at the following schools: Escuela Tres de Mayo, Escuela la Gran and for some of the hotel employees’ children.
H2H-T provided 29 backpacks for mountain school of Lancetilla.
Sports Equipment and Sports Uniform Project
Soccer Project: Hundreds of soccer uniforms, cleats, socks, balls were distributed to the roughly six local soccer teams around the Tela area. H2H-T youth volunteers worked with Tela’s Sports Director to make the presentation.
Baseball Project: Tela’s Sports Director suggested that H2H-T give the baseball equipment to the Triunfo de la Cruz boys and girls baseball teams – baseball bats, mitts, catcher’s mitt, catcher’s face guard, knee guards, baseballs, baseball caps, and t-shirts. The kids were exuberant.
H2H-T funds several students who could not otherwise afford to continue high school. The appropriate students are suggested by teachers to H2H-T leaders. The cost per student is about $200 a year – this is for books, uniform, school supplies and a small tuition for the school. There is a great deal of poverty in Honduras and many parents simply can’t afford to send their children on to high school. The four student scholarship recipients were from the following schools: Tres de Mayo, La Esperanza, Lancetilla and Escuela Normal.
Approximately 300 children’s books in Spanish, along with creative books in Spanish/English made by the H2H-T youth volunteers, were given directly to the school teachers at the following locations: La Esperanza, Lancetilla, Grevil Avelar, Tres de Mayo, Las Palmas, Jazmin, IHNFA, Campo Elvir, Cuatro de Enero Day Care; and the orphanage. The children were delighted to receive all these new books for use in their classrooms.