Monday, July 7, 2008

Honduras: Stephan's Story

I asked Stephan recently what he thought of the trip, of Global Medical Brigades, and the whole situation in Honduras in general. We had a pretty long discussion and what follows is a summary (since he won't type, and refuses to tell me about it all again).

Overall he thought the program we were a part of was pretty solid. Since it was run by Hondurans who know what the communities need it was straight-up helpful. They seemed to have the system worked out very well. They get energetic college students to do a lot of the fundraising and volunteer-gathering. The program appeals to students studying pre-med, public health, Spanish, and international development. It's a great resume builder, and a short enough time commitment to be accessible to many students.

Once in-country they have American Students pretty well figured out. Transportation was foolproof, we were never allowed out on our own. The dorms we were staying in were very clean with running water, and protected by gates. We were fed often with food that was just local enough to know we weren't in Kansas anymore, without being so foreign as to cause complaints. They provided access to beer, wine, souvenirs, cute orphans, fresh towels and laundry, and a chance to hang out at the end of the day.

Obviously, the entire program could be run a lot cheaper if the help didn't come from so far away, with such elaborate living arrangements. Granted, if the locals Hondurans were helping out the American donations wouldn't be nearly enough to cover the operating costs. It's a trade off. But when you think about it, the medical program is simply plugging a hole that the government can't fill. It's stopping the bleeding without addressing the cause of the injury in the first place.

Recently, Global Medical Brigades and the Sociadad Amigos de los Ninoa have started to expand into true development work- affecting the long-term sustainability of the communities they're working in- with projects like building stoves in smaller villages and educating children at Flor Azul (a working farm that teaches boys 12-19 business skills, English, and gets them through high school).

Both Stephan and I are very impressed with the amazing amount of wonderful work they're doing down there. We would recommend the GMB program to anyone who asks about it, and feel that the time and money we put together was very well needed, and put to very good use.

Stephan also tells me that I've written everything there is to write about our trip, and that I should go back to talking about steer-riding and rodeos. If you have any more questions please feel free to comment on the blog or email me. Again, the photos can be found here and the GMB website is here.

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