February 2006 Trip to Honduras
"Faith through Acts"
From February 18 to March 4, 2006, nine folks from United Church of Christ (UCC) churches in Salamanca, Arcade and Honeoye participated in a NY/HELP mission trip to Honduras. This trip was one of the most successful that NY/HELP has conducted, on many levels: It was organized well, with the cooperation of Yovany Munguía of our partner organization, Sustainable Harvest of Honduras. Projects were selected by the communities involved. We all worked in fellowship with the people of each community. We shared their lives as well - staying in the local communities - which was quite an experience for us New Yorkers!
La Laguna, in the center of the area where NY/HELP's efforts are located, is high up the mountain, at an altitude of 4200 feet; the road up the mountain starts in La Habana at 2900 feet. (And for a change, the road was in excellent shape this year!)
We were able to work in three different villages during this mission trip. Dr. Gordon Comstock of Arcade UCC worked in the clinic in La Laguna. There he saw 140 patients over six days in the clinic. These included several kids with pneumonia, who fortunately improved with treatment. Skin infections were common, made worse by the poor housing conditions people must live in there. One child needed stitches for a cut on her foot sustained as she was coming with her family to the clinic! (Our nurse, Mirtila Garcia, will take out the stitches the following week.)
Ginger Comstock and Judy Toner (a retired teacher from Salamanca) helped Mirtila in the clinic pharmacy and also visited several of the local elementary schools. Judy had brought books in Spanish from the Spanish club at Salamanca High, and shared them with the local school children.
High-school soccer player (and Spanish-speaker) David Makepeace hijo, retired welder Dick DeNise, and Rev. Brian Krause of Honeoye UCC spent their time at an elevation of 3800 feet in nearby El Calichal. In cooperation with the men of the community, they worked fencing in the schoolyard there. David hijo also refereed the soccer tournament that NY/HELP sponsored on Sunday; teams from four villages participated and all had a great time! Prizes were awarded to all the teams (La Laguna won the third prize - the soccer ball itself!).
Spanish teacher David Makepeace papá, gas-company inspector Rich VanAmburg, and math teacher Doug Young helped families build latrines in the community of La Fortuna, down at 2900 feet altitude on the OTHER side of the mountain. They stayed in the school house there, with local families providing cooks and company.
Building latrines doesn't sound real exciting, but this simple move can have a major impact on the public health of a community. Fencing in the school yard means the children can have a school garden, where they can learn about new crops and better nutrition. Our clinic in La Laguna not only gives a base of operations for NY/HELP's activities, but supports the year-round presence of our nurse, Mirtila Garcia. And, very consistent with our churches' history, we have been working to support education for all the children of the communities here.
The group also went to the nearby "county seat" of Yoro. There we visited the "boarding house" that NY/HELP sponsors, where students from these villages have a safe and supervised place to live while they attend grades 7-12. Visiting the students' classes in the high school and CEVER (the vocational school affiliated with our sister E&R church in Honduras) gave both us and the students a chance to interact with each other - which was quite a lift!
In showing our faith through our acts, we all were renewed. We give thanks to all who help support NY/HELP's mission through prayers, donations and participation. More mission trips are being planned; if you would like to participate, contact Ginger Comstock at 585-492-2810 or <firstname.lastname@example.org> .
- Gordon F Comstock MD
Medical Advisor, NY/HELP
March 22, 2006