Sunday, June 30, 2013

Community Stay

Today, Sunday, we returned from our community homestays back to El Corpus. In pairs and threes, we separated into six different communities surrounding El Corpus: Guasaule, Guanacaste, Papalon, Espaveles, Portreritos, and Los Terreros. Between a mix of bus rides, hikes and horseback rides (for some) we left El Corpus on Thursday morning and arrived that afternoon. We spent time with our homestay families, many of whom have hosted HHA students for years and years.  We brought games and spent the afternoon playing with the kids, setting up our hammocks to sleep in, and chatting.

On Friday and Saturday, we gave charlas to women in our respective communities. The charlas covered family planning & cervical cancer, STIs/HIV, nutrition, menopause and domestic violence. The charlas were well attended, with one community hosting over 90 women. Through a mix of didactic teaching, skits, games, and group activities we reviewed pap smears, different options for family planning, how to protect against STIs, how to plan healthy meals, what to expect in menopause, and defined domestic violence and possible resources for those in need.  We also explained the services HHA offers at clinic and informed womenof their clinic date. 

In the time between charlas we had ample time to get to know our host family. In Guanacaste Amber (MS4) and I (Christina, MS2), brought cards and played hours of games on the porch with the 5 kids that lived in our homestay. We also went down to the river where they got water and washed clothes to hang out swim a little. We were invited to a Catholic celebration of a saint which was full of singing, guitars, and special treats (Coca Cola & coffee). We also got to spend time with two of the older sisters who were visiting their parents, one with a newborn in tow. Our homestay father, Rufino, is the health promoter and worked hard to recruit a total of 84 women to our charlas. Rufino and his wife Rubelina have hosted HHA students for 7 years. Many of the MS2s return as MS4s to the same community (Amber, for example). In this case, both the family and the student are excited to see familiar faces and deepen ties.

The homestay experience is such key part of the HHA program. It allows us time to educate women about what our clinic offers, build relationships with community members, and gain perspective on where the women in our clinic come from. In the charlas, we learn much about women’s knowledge base and experience with the different subjects at hand and thus have a better launching point for conversations in clinic. HHA’s presence and partnership with these communities over the years is a privilege to be a part of.

Our first day of clinic is tomorrow! The doctors (2 family medicine residents and 1 OB/GYN attending) arrive tonight. We will meet at Juana’s house to meet them and go over clinic this evening. More to come.

Christina teaching charlas in Guanacaste.

Amber with host family kids!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

El Corpus

On Tuesday, we packed into a bus and made the journey from Tegucigalpa to El Corpus. On the way, we stopped at a restaurant complete with a zoo in the back.  There was everything from pumas to ostriches to monkeys to turtles. After exploring the zoo and lunch, we stopped in Choluteca to get some supplies before making it to our home base, El Corpus. El Corpus is a small town about an hour outside of Choluteca tucked up in the mountains. We met Juana, HHA’s main contact person. She is such an integral part of keeping this trip running and connecting us with communities and goes out of her way to make us feel welcome. We then dispersed to our homestay families where we had dinner before reuniting at Juana’s for our nightly debriefing.

Today we went even further up the mountain to Madrigales, the place where we will have clinic next week. The ride up was incredibly beautiful with views mountains, small farms, and communities that lined our way. After an hour in a chicken truck, which was quite a bumpy ride to say the least, we arrived to our clinic site. We spent the morning unloading supplies and setting up the rooms for next week. Jordy and Liza, the supply team, spearheaded this effort. We are all set with a lab, pharmacy, and all the works for pap smears and pelvic exams. In the afternoon, we went over charlas. We are excited to head out to our respective communities tomorrow morning to  recruit women to the clinic and give charlas. We will cover nutrition, family planning and cervical c├íncer, STIs, menopause and domestic violence.  We will spend time with our host families and have an opportunity to get to know the communities from which the women we serve come.

Tonight we will celebrate Juana’s birthday and get ready for our journeys to community. We are having such a lovely time. More to come once we get back to El Corpus!

El Corpus

From left: Amber (MS4), Emily (MS4), Des (MS2) and Lara (public health).

Our lovely public health leaders, Lara and Emily, organizing charla supplies!

View of the mountains between El Corpus and Madrigales.

Our lovely supply leaders, Jordy and Liza.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Arrived in Tegucigalpa!

After leaving RDU and 12 hours of airports, flights, and a taxi ride we arrived to Hotel Linda Vista safe and sound. Along with huge bags of clinic supplies and backpacks in tow, we (7 MS2s, 8 MS4s, and 2 public health leaders) have taken over the entirety of the hotel. We relaxed, unpacked, and will now have a pizza dinner, database training and logistical rundown. We leave early for Choluteca tomorrow where will will set up clinic and prepare for charlas before leaving for our community homestays later this week.

We have anticipated and worked hard to plan this trip, so it's both exciting and surreal to be here. We are proud to represent HHA's 10th trip! More to come. 

View from Hotel Linda Vista

From the left: Carolyn (MS4), Emily (MS4), John (MS4), Dan (MS4), and Kyle (MS2)