Hunter College: Humanitarian Trip to Honduras, Part I
New York City is often known for its rude people and tough streets, but there is a group of people who may be changing this stereotype.
Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY) recently sent New York State’s first Global Medical Brigade to provide free medical care to the underserved people of rural Honduras. With the humble group of 24 including one family doctor and one EMT, the Hunter College students helped over 400 people, by donating their time, medicine, clothes, money, and other goods to needy villagers throughout Honduras.
Honduras is a small Central American country that is filled with beauty, traversed by sprawling dirt roads, trees as far as the eye can see, in an ear-popping, high-altitude, mountainous region. Historically, the country is filled with a rich past but less than rich economy. Suffering from a harsh hurricane ten years ago, more than half of the country’s population still lives below the poverty line. Even those who can afford homes better than shanties still have trouble accessing clean water and electricity. Medical care is a major issue.
Prior to arriving at their living quarters, the 24 Brigaders prepared themselves for the worst. As one brigader Selby Chu, put it, he “was completely surprised to see our dwelling area. It was an expansive building, staffed with friendly cooks, housekeepers, and groundskeepers. Tables were lined up surrounded by couches and hammocks to relax on; I could’ve mistaken it for a resort. There couldn’t have been a better place to stay. Yet it also strengthened the stark contract between our lives and those we were helping.” Going to Honduras gave the group a clearer visual of how serious the situation is and how badly they need help. It was no longer just something you read in a newspaper or learned in class but something that was clearly visible before their eyes. For some, coming to Honduras solidified their dreams of becoming a doctor, as well as inspiring them to be more determined in their future efforts to improve healthcare.
Working with the people there was such a wonderful experience. Everyone was so nice, and the children were such a delight to play with and speak to. The people of Honduras are just like everyone else; they want live their lives just as healthy as we do. The problem is that they have a much harder time accessing proper health care than we do and when they can, it’s normally too far from home, or out of their price range. They are then forced to live with minor afflictions that can escalate to a major illness such as Malaria or Gangrene. There is a high epidemic of respiratory problems due to low ventilation in the villagers’ homes.
Thanks to the hard work of Marissa Lombardo, President of the 2007-2008 Hunter College chapter of Global Medical Brigades, the group successfully conducted fundraisers and received a generous donation from Joseph Testa, Pharmacist of Woodhaven Pharmacy, and as well as a donation from Church on the Hill, with a special thanks to Reverend Justin Meyers for his support in gaining funds. With their help the group was able to reach their year-round goal of traveling to Honduras to help provide free medical care to those who needed it the most. Other New York based colleges are now following suit.
The Hunter College chapter plans on going again and the gears are already in motion for a bigger better brigade that will provide even more help.#
Look for Part II next month.