About a month ago, a medical brigade from Canada came to Salama, Jano, and Silca. Those are 3 municipalities of Olancho. Three other PCVs and I helped them with translations for 5 days although I was only there for 4 of those days. The group came via a NGO called Friends of Honduran Children.
It seems that pretty frequently medical brigades ask PCVs to help translate for them. Usually we speak Spanish and English pretty well and in return we get to have a different experience for a few days as well as free food for those days (and nothing gets us more excited than free meals). This was my first medical brigade and I had heard a mix of things from other volunteers and their experiences. There are volunteers out there that don’t like medical brigades. They say that people, instead of going to a health center, will just wait for a medical brigade to come so that they can get free pills. As the day goes on, many people start saying they have the same symptoms because they know what pills they’ll get in return for saying them. My favorite one is what we call TBP: Total Body Pain. When we ask where they have pain, they just say ‘ohh it hurts here and here and here’ while pointing at their entire body. When asked for specifics none are usually given. But this isn’t everyone. Some people show up to the brigade and actually have issues that they want checked out. In this brigade, there was also a dentist station as well and they were extracting teeth.
I had a great time with this group. It wasn’t a church group or a group of just old people (nothing wrong with older people. The older people in the group were really chill) and everyone was friendly. The first day I was helping at the dentist station. It was sad to see a couple kids around the ages of 10-13 get their 3 front teeth pulled out because they were rotting. And a couple older people had as many as 5 or 6 teeth pulled. The following days I was translating for the doctors as patients came in telling their problems. As I said, many people just had TBP and that gets annoying. But there were a few interesting cases. This one family when we were in Jano was very poor and you could see the malnourishment in them and the one kid had a lot of issues. Check out the following pictures of them:
And here are some pictures of the group and us:
|Translating about brushing your teeth and what's good/bad for them|
|Erika acting as the dentist|
|People waiting to be seen by the doc|
|TJ, Mark, Erika, and I|
My final opinion is mixed about medical brigades. Many people just wait for them and avoid going to the doctor because of them. At the same time, many of these people wouldn’t be able to afford going to the doctor or the medicine they would need. Medical brigades might help people short-term until more help comes, but they’re not a sustainable solution to any of the health issues. But when a government isn’t doing anything to help their people who are in need, what is a good solution? A lot of the time people have headaches 24/7 because they work under the hot sun all day and instead of drinking water, they drink soda and coffee. Some families have malnourished kids, but they have so many kids that whatever their income is it won’t be enough to sustain the family. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get people to drink more water or have fewer kids or to do any of the other things that would easily solve some of the issues they have. It’s a cultural thing.
On another note, I finally moved into a new apartment last week. I love it in this new place. It’s ridiculously nice and I can’t believe that I’m going to live here for the next year and few months. With an amazing kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a balcony and an inside pila, I’m never going to leave here. And the price, well it’s the same as before thanks to the bargaining power of foreigners (we normally pay on time and take better care of the place). Here are a couple of pictures of the new place:
|I got a balcony!|
So whether you're a PCV or someone from back home, you’re more than welcome to stay here whenever I’m here.