The medical team is comprised of roughly 25 health practitioners in pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, obstetrics/ gynecology, ophthalmology, dentistry, podiatry and nursing. An additional twenty five adult and high school volunteers work alongside the medical team in the clinic. The team works and lives at the local elementary school during the mission. All expenses are assumed by each member of the team.
Since 2000, the medical team has organized a clinic each June at the elementary school in Atíma, Honduras. The team treats 2500-3000 patients each year during the five-day clinic. Each year, a variety of medical issues are addressed ranging from routine healthy checkups, simple colds, skin rashes, back pain and upset stomachs to more serious medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, congestive heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dehydration, injuries and congenital disorders. Gynecologic services include pregnancy testing, prenatal exams, birth control, and education on HIV prevention. Referrals for subspecialty care within the Honduran health care system are facilitated and financed. In addition, all children ages 1-10 are treated to eliminate worms and parasites. Health education teaching sessions are held for patients as they wait to be seen, covering such topics as water purification, hand washing to prevent disease, and proper dental care. Vitamins, toiletries, toothbrushes and health-education materials are distributed to each family. All equipment is shipped by Dole Ocean Freight from the USA to Honduras. Equipment includes medications, IV fluids, surgical supplies, reading glasses, clothing and shoes. In addition, the project has shipped medical hardware such as X-ray and ultrasound machines, pediatric ventilators, cardiac monitors, dental chairs, defibrillators and a fully equipped ambulance. At the end of the annual medical brigade, unused medications and supplies are distributed to local clinics, hospitals, schools, prisons, as well as police and fire stations. Since 2000, medications valued at over $1,000,000 have been distributed to the local community.
Each year, 20 high school age students are selected to participate with the brigade team. These students assist in every aspect of the project’s efforts. They serve as translators, assist with medical procedures, help manage the pharmacy, teach dental hygiene, distribute clothes, install stoves, and most importantly- make connections with families, children and teenagers in the community. The youth who come to Honduras gain a greater appreciation of how the rest of the world lives and of the privileged lives that they lead at home. As they lose themselves in their service to others, many of the teens describe this experience as life-transforming. Our student volunteers assume the costs of their transportation, food and housing. The tour of duty includes sleeping on the floor with ten other students in an unused school room, going without showers when the water runs dry, helping to keep toilets unclogged, working from 6am to 7pm – and funny—almost every one of them begs to return for another year!!
In partnership with the Rotary Club of Baltimore, Rotary International, Agua Clara (Cornell University), Agua Para El Pueblo, and the Municipal Government of Atima, OCHO helped to raise funds to support the construction of a $100,000 water purification facility to serve Atima.
Water in Atima has been significantly contaminated by bacteria and parasites, contributing to chronic illness, malnutrition and adversely affecting the maturation and development of children in Atima. The project holds the promise of providing potable drinking water for the first time to the approximately 3500 residents of Atima. The water treatment plant will both remove sediment from the river water and chlorinate the water to make it safe for drinking. The project is scheduled to be completed by June 2012.
Since 2004, over 25,000 clean-burning, fuel-efficient cooking stoves have been installed in and around Atíma by members of the team and local workers.
Since 2004, over 25,000 clean-burning, wood burning cooking stoves have been installed in Atíma and its surrounding villages. These stoves vent toxic smoke to the outside of the homes, use 1/3 the amount of wood, burn hotter and cook faster than typical stoves. As a result, respiratory and eye problems, wood consumption, deforestation, and indoor smoke pollution have been dramatically reduced. The reduction in the amount of wood needed has also resulted in significant cost savings to families as well as time saved in gathering wood.
The project has been funded by the Project Mirador Foundation, established by one of the members of our team. Each family receiving a stove is expected to make a small monetary contribution toward supplies. The stoves have been extremely popular with local Hondurans and the Overlook Foundation currently employs a full time crew including a project manager and three full-time stove builders. Each summer, members of the team assist the full-time staff by installing stoves around Atíma.
Based on the belief that the smile on a child's face upon receiving a new box of crayons is universal -- an equal joy in every country, no matter its resources -- the School Supplies for Honduras Project began in 2006 with five donors and one bag of school supplies that were distributed to patients in the medical clinic. In a few short years, the project has grown to include over 75 individual donors and 20 ten-gallon crates of school supplies that are distributed to schools around Atima, the rural village where the clinic is located, impacting hundreds of students. Each year, volunteers in the United States collect and pack paper, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, rulers, and a variety of other supplies that are then distributed by the team in Atima. In just the past two years, the project has distributed over 4,000 pieces of chalk; 7,500 pens; 10,000 pencils; and 15,000 crayons.
Clothing & Supplies
Each year, hundreds of shoes and clothing items are collected from donations. Items are sorted and shipped to Honduras alongside the medical equipment. Items are distributed by volunteers to families in greatest need. Particular emphasis is placed on providing clothes to young children. In recent years, shoes and clothing have been taken directly to the most remote villages in the region for those unable to visit the clinic.