I have just returned from two months in Honduras. It has been my longest mission so far and the time was filled with many different and rich experiences. Last year, we set up dispensaries in two small communities and provided homeopathic training and care to the populations. The goal of this mission was to set up dispensaries in two new communities and return to last year’s communities to continue to solidify the use of homeopathy and the integration of the dispensaries into the communities. I tried to write a regular blog piece that was posted on FaceBook with pictures of the mission. They are posted below, with a two-week time-gap in November, when lack of Internet access didn’t permit regular postings.
Overall, the mission was a great success: all four dispensaries are now up and running with help from local people. In the four weeks that we had Canadian brigades in Honduras, we were able to treat over 500 people, mostly women and children. We were touched by the life circumstances in many of the stories we heard from our patients and were always so grateful for the small relief we can bring to their suffering. We also trained some 130 community leaders, doctor, nurses, health workers in the basic understanding of homeopathy and application of a first line of remedies in acute circumstances such as fevers, diarrhea, trauma, etc.
Another successful activity this mission was a talk in the high school in each community on homeopathy and general health and life style topics. The talks were given to students in their final years and were overall very well appreciated. One goal of the talks was that the students would know about the existence of the dispensary in their community and would be able to share with their family the issues that homeopathy can address.
I’m inviting you to read the stories of the mission as they were unfolding.
Oct 9, 2016
Safely arrived in Cantarranas, Honduras. The welcome was so sweet. Although the electricity went out we managed to set ourselves up in our rooms and slept well. The view on the town and mountains from the hotel is just gorgeous as we prepare for a day of hard work, setting up the dispensary so that we are ready for a week of consultations.
Our first day in Cantarranas went really well. We set up the dispensary in the space that the municipality so generously gave to us. The team is already working like a smooth machine, labeling bottles, filling, placing in alphabetical order. It took the better part of the day and we are very proud to have a beautiful setup. The climb up hill to the hotel is a nice exercise at the end of the day. We arrived at sunset, just as the electricity shut off once again. We were wondering if there would be food. A pleasant surprise, the very kind restaurant owner came to pick us up for our supper and drive us through the completely dark village. We had a romantic dinner by candle light after which we were given a ride back. Early turn in. Luckily this morning the electricity is back on… today will be our first day of consultations. We will be joined by our liaison Dionisia and our clinic assistant Yolanda from Valle de Ángeles.
Our first patients in Cantarranas. Some of the stories broke our hearts. There is only so much we can do to relief their suffering. Single moms living in poverty, with no means to pay for school exams for the kids. Absent fathers. Stories of violence. At least we know that they will feel better, thanks to the homeopathy and with renewed strength and health can build a better life for themselves and their children. Today we were also joined by Dionisia our Honduras liaison and Yolanda, our assistant in the clinic in Valle de Ángeles. Big event of the day: official opening of the space by the mayor of Cantarranas who, in his little speech brought across the fact that the project belongs to the community and how it can contribute to its development.
Oct 12, 2016
A full day of consultations. We saw many women with children. The story is always the same, the fathers are absent and the women struggle to make ends meet. This is the time of the cold season and there is a lot of flu. Many of the small kids have colds constantly for the 6 months of the rainy season. Their immune systems are clearly low from lack of good nourishment. The men that come to consult also have lived through tremendously difficult situations. We saw an 80+ year old man who was skin over bones and had lost all his family. Alcohol played a big role in the story of this man as it does in many others. Much of it because there is no work and such absolute poverty that the outlook for the future is grim. The good news is that the principal of the high school has invited Norbita to come and give a training to the students and teachers.
Oct 13, 2016
Wednesday was our second full day of consultations. We saw 35 patients. The need is so big and it is a challenge to stay grounded in what we can do: offer homeopathic medical help and let go all what we would like to do but can’t to help these women out of their abject poverty and bleak outlook on the future. There is nothing for them but to make babies so that for a short time span they can emerge themselves in the feelings of love a baby brings out. As young as 16 or 17 years old they start to have babies. We have encouraged the mayor to set up projects for the women, to train them in something they would enjoy doing and that would bring in some money, while offering daycare services. He seemed interested because he is dedicated to his community, but not doing much of this type of development as far as we know. On our walk back up the hill to the hotel just before nightfall, we were struck once again by the clusters of young men hanging about. There is much drug and alcohol use among them. Some of them came for a consultation to help them deal with these problems. There is much lack of work for the men in this town as well. Our hope is that our contribution to the health of this community will help the people become more productive and fuller participants in their community’s development. On another note: the town was hard at work today to repair all the electrical cables. Hopefully that will put an end to all the blackouts.
Oct 14, 2016
Hard to believe that today is our last day of consultations in Cantarranas. We had another full day, yesterday. We could probably do this for many weeks and still there would be a need for more. One of the sad cases yesterday was a young man who was in an accident. He had fallen from a roof, two stories high while working. He had broken his leg and knee and had to have several pins inserted. After the surgery, an infection set in and even after five surgical cleanings, antibiotics and a month-long inserted drain, nothing had changed. He felt so weakened by the repeated anaesthesia that he requested no further surgeries. His doctor got very upset at him and roughly took out the drain and sent him home saying that the next time he would come to the hospital they would amputate his leg. The poor man has been trying for a month to heal the infected wound. He can’t bend his leg at all and hasn’t been able to work to earn money to have proper care and therapy. We also saw an elderly woman who had a sudden chest pain followed by paralysis of her arm. Another case where more medical care is needed than we can offer. Hopefully in both these cases we will have brought much needed amelioration and hope.
Oct 15, 2016
HTSF Honduras mission – Day seven. We had our last day in Cantarranas. The space has been decorated by the children’s drawings, the local collaborators responsible for the dispensary had an extra training and the last patients have been seen. A very sick little girl was happy to have her picture taken. She was quite a character: despite a high fever she showed us her best poses. Today we were woken up by loud music. There was a lot going on around the central parque in the town. It sounded like a party. Upon closer inspection, we noticed the pile up of boxes of medication, guarded by military. Later in the morning, when the people had arrived , we realized it was a big medical campaign, checking people’s health, handing out meds, checking babies. The Red Cross was actively participating. How great it would have been if homeopathy would have been part of this impressive infrastructure. In the afternoon we were picked up by a little bus generously organized by the AMHON (association of mayors of Honduras). With much effort all of us and all our gear was fitted and we drove to our next destination: Teupasenti. With Carla, Norbita, Hélène, Johanne, Lise.
Oct 19, 2016
Honduras mission week two: Teupasenti. A new week, a new community. The difference with Cantarranas is that we came here last year to set up the dispensary and give training. It is set up in the building of the Red Cross (La Cruz Roja). Maritza, the person responsible for the dispensary has done an amazing job to maintain the dispensary, give out remedies and be an all around advocate of homeopathy. Because we are already known here, we have many patients right from the first day and the sign up for the two training sessions is fantastic as well. Yesterday there were 50, many of the participants are teachers in the high school and tomorrow Norbita will give an introductory talk about homeopathy to some 100 high school students of the final grades. Patients stories are heart breaking here as well. Serious conditions with no medical help, no medication, or no money to buy the necessary medication. The demand is so great that we have to send people away. We quickly realized that we need so many more dropper bottles to make the remedies in than we could ever bring from Canada. We’re trying to buy some locally in the capital and get them shipped on the bus to Teupasenti. The cost is great and puts a strain on the project money. We need to find a different way… here it would be great to get institutional support, for example from the municipality or from the Red Cross. To be continued… The other story in this pueblo is the rain. We are in the hight of the rainy season. In Cantarranas it conveniently rained at night mostly, but here we have lots of showers and that combined with dirt roads and lack of drains causes for many flooded roads. One of our patients made the most of it and used the occasion to have fun. With this season comes the flu and also transmission of parasites. It’s all in a day’s work.
Honduras mission week two: Teupasenti last day of clinic. The rain is still the main event each day. Stories of flooding are coming in and more rain is in the forecast. We are in a lower laying area and not close to a main river and therefore not affected by floods, but people in the mountains are suggested to leave their houses if they feel movement in their house or see cracks in the mountain. How scary this must be especially when you already have nothing. Our clinic yesterday was overflowing: so much need and we can see relatively few people in one week… some of the cases are heavy such as an elderly man with advanced effects of diabetes. Also, in this country, women do not have much choice in birth control and many use the injectable contraception. We saw one yesterday who is 32 years old and has been getting these injections for 13 years. A year ago she was diagnosed with cysts in her breasts and she has much breast discomfort, but no doctor ever suggested she should try another form of contraception. Condoms or barrier birth control are not at all available.
Oct 28, 2016
A pause between two missions. Time to relax? No, not really. Excited: yes!!! In this week, we wrote up a number of course outlines for courses we are asked to offer within the university’s medical faculty. Next week these will get discussed and it will be decided what place homeopathy will take within the medical training in Honduras.
Nov 2, 2016
Norbita and I are working hard with Diony and Yolanda in the Clínica in Valle de Àngeles. We’re creating the remedies for the dispensaries of the two communities we are heading to next. But we realized that we could do a much better job organizing the remedies in Valle so that we would be able to access them easily. However, before organization comes chaos: those patients who came by for a consult had to wait extra long before their remedies were prepared. Today the color coding will happen and it will be amazing.
Nov 6, 2016
Honduras update: We have arrived in Cuyamel, Cortes. At this point it is just Norbita and I with our local host/organizer, Rolando. Tomorrow Dionisia and Jorge Mario will join us and on Tuesday the next Canadian mission will arrive. Today we have been meeting with Fanny who will be responsible for the dispensary and checking the space in the health center. We are also preparing the new course we will be giving to a group of 12 doulas from a remote mountain area. Very exciting. Unfortunately we have arrived with endless rain: we are sucked in! However we were able to take some pictures.
Nov 23, 2016
Honduras Mission Update: one of the greatest things about Facebook is to be able to post an update as your experience is unfolding. Here we are, more than two weeks without any posts due to lack of Internet. So, where do I start with the update: a wonderful group of homeopaths came and left: Nicole Préault, Jana Cernochova and Anya Watson joined Norbita Medina and Carla Marcelis for a full two weeks of setting up dispensaries, doing consultations, helping with training. We travelled far, the first week we were in the community of Cuyamel in the municipality of Omoa. This is in the north of Honduras near the Atlantic coast. We were joined by Diony Ordóñez Flores and Jorge Mario who were a great help as always. We loved this community: we had support from the mayor, vice-mayor, other officials in the municipality, from the health centre and from the Red Cross. We had enthusiastic volunteers who took the HTSF training and helped us the whole week with making remedies and learning about maintaining the dispensary. We were very busy with patients the whole week and since we have left, the local volunteers are receiving about 10 patients daily. What an amazing experience. And the brigade got to spend a day resting on and near the water which was truly appreciated. After this week, our challenge was the travel to the next community: La Florida in the municipality of Omoa. This is a very isolated community in the mountains. It is hard to reach because one has to drive on an extremely bad road that requires a 4×4. It took us the better part of a day to get there. But once you’re there, you realize that you’re in an oasis of green hills, birds and quiet. We had been here a year ago and had set up the dispensary. The difficulty in this community is to obtain the dropper bottles in which to make remedies. We made sure that we brought many hundreds of bottles and were able to leave a good supply so that they can continue to make remedies. We also feel that we left the dispensary in good hands. Although Dionisia and Jorge Mario were not with us for the week, they came to pick us up and were able to meet with the people so that they can put a face, when they talk on the phone. I’ll post separately about the kinds of patients we worked with and their struggles. Also, I’ll write in a future post about a very exciting activity we did: we prepared a remedy from the raw material and this with the help of the community. All in all an amazing two weeks. Enjoy the pics!
Nov 26, 2016
As my two month-long mission is drawing to an end and my time is now mostly spent on administrative work and in meetings, I get to appreciate the extend of our work here in Honduras. This past year, we established four homeopathic dispensaries in four small communities. Each of them with their own specific needs, characteristics and collaboration. The homeopathy speaks for itself: people come back to tell us how well they are doing. Our most touching story is that of a young man with Hodgkins Lymphoma. He had been getting chemotherapy and was so sick that they couldn’t give him any more. He was sick in the consulting room until we gave him HTSF Intox which stopped it immediately. We gave him several remedies to take over the next day’s. After three days his mother came to see us and she cried as she told us how much he had improved in strength. That he hadn’t been this good since before he was sick. The more I’ve seen of the poverty and the dire state of health care services here, the better I understand when people are thanking us. Although our contribution is no more than a drop in the ocean of need, those that we help have a better chance to gain back their health and be able to meet the challenges of each day. It makes me so immensely grateful for all that I have in my life and for the opportunity to work with HTSF and with the amazing complexes created by Martine Jourde. My thanks also goes to all those that have come on missions and, I hope, will continue to come and be inspired by the communities’ integration of homeopathy as part of sustainable development. Special note of thanks to Norbita Medina, Nicole Préault and Lise Raymond for all the support over these two months and the other missionaries that came: Helene Pranevicia and Johanne Labelle in October and Jana Cernochova and Anya Watson in November.
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.
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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.