Twenty-eight Huguley employees and family members traveled to Peña Blanca, Honduras from March 28 to April 5 for a mission trip benefiting Pan American Health Service. Smiles were plentiful, snakes were occasional and hot water was nonexistent during the mission, which was unanimously considered a success.
Established by Dr. Stephen Youngberg in 1959, Pan American Health Service is a non-denominational Christian agency that fights childhood malnutrition and provides basic education and medical assistance to local impoverished children. Additionally, it runs a children’s home for approximately 70 children.
This mission built on the work accomplished during the hospital’s first mission trip to Pan American Health Service in April 2007. Volunteers divided into teams to provide medical care, continue dormitory construction and conduct a children’s Bible school.
Dr. Dennis Haslam, Dr. Edward Laue, and Dr. Robert Smith, along with several nurses, a triage team and translators, staffed mobile medical clinics in four locations: three villages in the mountains around Peña Blanca and one on the campus of Pan American Health Service. When they arrived at one mountain village, 200 people were waiting when they arrived, and busses from the neighboring village soon arrived with 200 more. Approximately 450 patients were treated that day in a small building with a dirt floor and no running water. Patients were registered and triaged under a nearby shade tree.
Most people who live in the mountain villages near Peña Blanca do not have transportation to attain medical care. Pan American Health Services schedules a mobile clinic with volunteers to visit mountain villages at least twice each year. In these clinics, mothers arrive with several children, all of whom often have medical needs. Skin conditions and malnutrition are common. Referrals, transportation and financial help are arranged for those who require surgery in the nearest hospital, a few hours away.
The construction volunteers put stucco on the walls of one wing of the children’s dormitory and prepared the walls for painting. Challenges included a generator that broke and unreliable running water. When the water stopped running while they were mixing concrete, the volunteers trekked water in buckets up from the creek, a fifteen minute walk. They also made planters and laid bricks.
Approximately thirty school-aged children attended a daily Bible school featuring skits, crafts, interactive games and singing. “The simplest things brought joy to the children. We made ‘telephones’ with cups and string to show the need to communicate with God, and the kids were thrilled. The first day we had a scavenger hunt, and they had such fun that they begged us to do it again the next day,” said Wendy Feese, who planned the Bible school.
The mission trip was coordinated by Olivia Weber, the 18-year-old daughter of Pete Weber, president and CEO of Huguley Memorial Medical Center. Olivia oversaw donations, coordinated the schedule and travel plans, and planned food. Approximately $15,000 was raised to purchase medical and construction supplies. Employees held several fundraisers to benefit the mission trip, including sales of breakfast burritos, baked goods, and enchiladas.