La Florida, November 3rd, 2015
Although it has been only a week since our arrival, it feels like a lifetime. Each day so full of impressions and experiences. Our first location was a small town called, Teupasenti. This town is near the Nicaraguan border. It is a tropical town on a lower altitude of 500 meters, surrounded by mountains used for coffee production. A town can be connected to many outlying villages, and Teupasenti has some 40 of such “aldeas” as they are called. Many cannot be reached by vehicle and some are several hours walking away from the town.
We are not in Valle de Angeles during this mission, at the HTSF clinic where we have been going on the previous missions. This year, we are starting a pilot project to bring homeopathy to the communities across Honduras and train local volunteers, community leaders and health workers in use of first line homeopathy. During this mission, we are visiting two communities, Teupasenti and La Florida de Opatoro, and in a future mission another two will become part of the project.
Teupasenti is centered around a plaza, like many of the towns in this part of the world. The plaza is a meeting place, with benches for sitting and talking with friends and neighbours from the town. The buildings typically around the plaza are a church, the town hall and the school. The Honduran government has recently begun to set up a router for wifi on these plaza’s (a program called Internet for the People) and so in Teupasenti at the early morning hours, one can find people with their smart phones using the internet. Although the signal was not strong, we were also able to take advantage of it, occasionally to send some emails home. La Florida is much smaller and is an “aldea” of Opatoro. It does have a town plaza, with a large enough open area for evening soccer by the town’s youth. La Florida has no internet at all and even the cell phone signals are not strong, so our group is having to wait out the week patiently without the usual electronic connections.
Upon the arrival of the mission team in Teupasenti, we were welcomed by a group of volunteers. Norbita who had already had been there a few days, had trained a group of fifty volunteers from “Vida Mejor” (Better Life) who were ready to help us set up the dispensary and organize the patients.
The HTSF project has been offered a room inside the building of the Honduran Red Cross for the dispensary and for our stay we used several of the offices of the building to consult with patients. The entrance hall was used by the patients to wait for their turn out of theheat of the sun. When we come to Honduras, our limitation usually is our capacity to function in Spanish. We try to bring Spanish speakers, to help with translation of the consultation, and on this mission we had Norbita. The others can understand some Spanish, but not enough to be independent. We also had Yolanda, our Honduran counterpart who works full time in the clinic in Valle de Angeles. She can do the consultation but cannot translate to English or French. Luckily we had a volunteer who came to help with translations. For this reason, we could make two teams and the local organizers were told ahead of time that we could see a maximum of 30 patients per day. In order to give good attention to a case, we need about 30 minutes with each patient. Then we need time to make the decision on treatments. The volunteers who were trained by Norbita, helped prepare the remedies and handed them out to the patients, which meant that the homeopaths could focus our attention on consultations.
La Florida, Wednesday, November 4th
It is now our third day in La Florida. This remote village is far into the mountains, west from the capital Tegucigalpa and close to the border of El Salvador. It was almost six hours drive, the final two hours were on 34 kilometers of dirt road full with big rocks and deeply engraved ridges from the heavy rainfall. Our heavily loaded van was skillfully driven by Francisco Javier, our partner from the local NGO FUPROVA.
Again the welcome was very warm, the people in these communities are so happy with the help homeopathy has to offer. Our hosts are coffee planters who have a “posada” (guesthouse) in a beautiful old hacienda. They had freshly painted all the rooms, gotten new linens, to show how much they appreciate our effort to come their way. We are really in the country side, surrounded by flowering trees, plants everywhere, and the songs of birds filling the air. Within a short time after our arrival the group felt the deep relaxation provided by this quiet, peaceful environment.
Our first day in La Florida was spent at setting up the dispensary. The village had chosen the community building behind the church. In the entrance hall we have a big cupboard for all the remedies and supplies and they set up two areas where we consult with patients. They also provided us with translators so that we again can see 30 patients per day. The training in first line homeopathy has been planned for today, so that all the volunteers that have been helping us will have a better understanding of homeopathy and can provide more help in preparing remedies and explaining the treatments to the patients. So far, this has been mostly in the capable hands of our assistant and non-homeopath on the mission team.
La Florida, Thursday, November 5th
Yesterday turned out to be another busy day. Norbita gave her homeopathy training in the afternoon and we had sent all the volunteers to take the training. Despite the lack of translators, one team continued with consultations and we still saw 25 patients in the day. The most common complaints here are headaches, body pains and stomach pains. These are a hard working people, spending their day on the farm, working the soil, or picking the coffee. For women the work is never done, on top of farming there is the house to keep clean the children to look after and the food to prepare. Much of the pains come on during this long workday.
We also see many patients with respiratory problems. This is the time of the year for that. The rainy season has finished and the cool weather of the Honduran winter is arriving. The days are warm and sunny, but as soon as the sun sets, the temperature drops and the dew comes. Many people relate their colds and coughs to being exposed to this dew. Because much of the living space in a house is essentially outside, in the courtyard, and their clothing is thin, it is a challenge for people to stay warm. This circumstance is very similar to Valle de Angeles, where we bring warm clothing to hand out to people. Because of limited transportation, we don’t have anything like that to hand out here, unfortunately.
The “other” brigade
When we arrived in La Florida on Sunday, we discovered that there was a medical and dental brigade from the USA which had also just arrived. They invited us for a chat and we met with their director, Jennifer. She and her family have been coming to Honduras and specifically to this community for 17 years. They come for one week, twice per year and bring some 18 people with them. They are connected to the health center and have a number of Hondurans working with them. The team in total consists of 30 health care workers and they see some 1200 people in this one week. Our 30 consultations per day pale in comparison. However, many of their consults are quick, and they just give a one month supply of medication. Jennifer is happy about our arrival in the community and sees the need for the development of alternative medicine because of the general absence of western medication and the difficulty people have to afford them if they are available.
La Florida, Friday, November 6th
The morning has arrived with some gentle rain. The night wasn’t as cool as the previous nights, because of the overcast. It will be our final day of seeing patients. Yesterday, there were so many people who came while already the registration for the 30 consultations was full, that we took pity on them and Norbita attempted to take short cases and prescribe for more acute and less chronic problems. This made us break an all time record of treating 46 patients in one day. There are many people who have been in accidents and are still suffering from the injuries. Car accidents, farm accidents, falling out of a tree or from a roof, are all too common occurrences. Our homeopathic complexes are intended to address and heal the injuries at all levels and provide lasting relief.
What is remarkable in this community is how many smiles and hello’s one gets while walking on the road. Despite the poverty, this community works hard at supporting each other and making a better life for themselves. The children look so happy and strong. One of the children who had come for a consultation, came running to hug me the following morning when she saw me on the road. What a nice way to start the day! I also made a new friend, 9 year old Eritcha, who is totally taken by the whiteness of my skin and hugs me and takes my hand anytime I walk down the road.
The other brigade is leaving and throwing a party tonight. Jennifer asked us how our health has been. Apparently seven of their group have fallen ill with diarrhea, one of them has it so severely that they had to put her on intravenous fluids. I told her about our prevention remedies and made a bottle for them which she happily took. She told me that she wants our homeopathic prevention for their next mission in May 2016. This is the best way for medical people to experience the effectiveness of homeopathy: through their own need for treatment and even though they can’t medically understand how it works, they become supportive of this wonderful healing modality.
Our next missions are planned for:
Mar 18-Apr 2, 2017
For these missions, we’re inviting Ontario and Quebec homeopaths to join us for training that applies to HTSF projects as well as clinical experience. For more information about how to join us on our next mission, contact us for more information.
Carla Marcelis, ND, DHom
Carla brings dedication, passion and expertise as mission leader to the MICH Honduras Clinic and to her role as Director and teacher at the Montreal Institute of Classical Homeopathy. Visit her webpage to learn more about her and to read all of her blog posts.