Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Setting up the clinic in Madrigales

Yesterday we arrived in El Corpus, which will be our home base for the next week and a half.  We left Tegucigalpa yesterday morning in a giant school bus and began the trek down south.  The views during the ride were absolutely gorgeous, and we took the four hours to grab some great photos (coming later) and to go over our charla materials.

The first year medical students spent the spring semester learning about and presenting several charlas, which are health talks that we will be giving to the women in the villages.  Erin and Marissa, our two public health students, were kind enough to put together a final packet of the most recent edits.  They pulled together the supplies that we will need to present the charlas, and we received the information packets on the bus.  We also received our pairings for both the El Corpus homestays and the villages.  This worked out really well, because we were able to hash out our plans and ideas on the bus ride, in addition to reading over the big presentation packet.

We stopped in Choluteca for lunch and supplies.  We were able to have our first real taste of Honduran cuisine with assortments of rice with chicken or fish -- and some delicious juices --mango, papaya, or horchata.  We also took some time to grab any last minute snacks or water, since we will be having the rest of our meals in the homestays.

About an hour past Choluteca, starting an ascent into the mountains, we reached El Corpus -- which is a tiny, cobblestone town that is (we just found out) actually known for its goldmining (interesting!). The fifteen of us split up to stay with five different host families, all within very close walking distance.  We had dinner with the families and got to know the area a bit before coming back to our meeting point -- the house of our coordinator, Juana, where the four leaders are staying.  We spent an hour or two going over the plans for the next couple of days and touching base about our homestays.  Everyone was in great spirits, and it was really starting to feel real!  To add to the energy, we found out that it was Juana´s birthday! And we all had a dance party (led by her five year old daughter) and shared some excellent birthday cake.  We were off to a memorable start!

This morning, we got up early and packed a chicken truck (yep) with alll of our medical supplies and journeyed up the mountain to a small village called Madrigales -- where our clinic will take place next week. Riding in the back of the pick-up looking out over the mountains was pretty incredible, and only a few bruises and branches-to-the-face were endured. :-) After almost an hour journey, we arrived in Madrigales at a community center of sorts, where we spent all morning doing inventory on supplies -- THANK YOU AGAIN TO ALL OF OUR FANTASTIC DONORS -- and thankfully we had everything we needed.  We then set up the four clinic rooms, a makeshift lab, a makeshift pharmacy, and a sterilization center.  Everything from examination tables, to stirrups, to sterilized speculums -- had to be fashioned according to the materials we were able to transport.  Some excellent pictures and videos will be posted later that show our creativity!  We made sure everything was set and ready for next week, and took note of any final supplies we may need.

Our families were kind enough to pack us a lunch for the road, so after about four hours of set-up, we broke for lunch.  The rest of the afternoon was spent presenting charlas to eachother to make sure all of us are prepared for what is in store next.

Tomorrow we head out in pairs to five different villages, where we will spend three days presenting our materials and recruiting women to come to our clinic.  We are off to such a strong start, and we are looking forward to the days to come!

We will check back in on Sunday to let you know how it went!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Arrived in Tegucigalpa!

Successful so far!!  All fifteen of us -- along with our personal baggage and our massive amounts of supplies -- made it to Honduras without a hitch!  We are staying in a beautiful little hotel in Tegucigalpa -- with a lovely owner, a gorgeous view of the city, and an internet connection!

View from our hotel
The group flying out of RDU via Miami had some minor delays in Florida, but it actually put us at the perfect arrival time, so that we arrived within thirty minutes of the other travelers coming from elsewhere.  Once we all convened, we exchanged money and grabbed some lunch at the airport, and we were able to share a couple of vans to get to our hotel.

The plan for today is to stay in the hotel and relax and stay safe.  We will be going over the plans for the next few days, as well as distributing some money and supplies between us.  Also -- most importantly -- we will be getting to know eachother over a pizza dinner this evening.  There are three men and twelve women; and we make up a total of two public health students, six rising MS2 students, and seven rising MS4 students (including our two leaders).  The residents and attendings will be joining us next week for the clinic.

Everybody is definitely excited for what the next few weeks have in store, but we are glad to have a day of relaxation and preparation before we begin.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ready to go!

Bags are packed and supplies are all accounted for!!  We depart for Honduras early tomorrow morning and will be in Tegucigalpa by early afternoon!  Some group members are already on their way now, after using the past few weeks of summer break to spend some time in Central or South America to brush up on Spanish and to get to know the culture.  We have a fantastic group of public health students, and rising fourth-year and second-year medical students who will be making their way down.  We will be met later by the residents and attendings who will bring the last bit of supplies.

We will be spending the first night in Tegucigalpa and then on Tuesday we will take a bus to El Corpus, near the city of Choluteca.  Our work takes place in the southeastern part of Honduras near the border with Nicaragua.

El Corpus is marked, just west of Choluteca.
 Tuesday and Wednesday we be setting up in El Corpus and preparing charlas, which we will give to the women in the villages later in the week.  Hopefully we will get a chance to update you as we go along!  We have a group member documenting the day-to-day adventures and projects that we undertake, and we will update this blog whenever we have internet access.  We also will be taking pictures and recording flip-cam videos, and those albums will be available on our website shortly after we return.

Wish us luck and safe travels!!