Volunteer Honduras

Volunteer Honduras La Ceiba Review Daniel Stogner Medical Program

Volunteer Honduras I spent time in the clinics but most of my time was spent observing and participating in surgeries and the social security hospital. I was there for almost 3 weeks gaining a rapport with the doctors and surgeons. I learned quite a bit from the surgeons. I met two friends from Australia who were here for the first few days of my stay, then I had nearly 2 weeks of myself being the only volunteer here. Later 6 pre med student volunteers came also from the great state of Texas, followed by 1 pre PA student volunteer from Florida.

Volunteer Honduras La Ceiba Review Daniel Stogner Medical Program

1.-How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
I stayed with Rafael the coordinator. He picks you up from the airport and brings you to his house. He goes with you to the hospitals until you are comfortable going by yourself. He takes pictures of you at the hospitals. He was very inviting to me, I was in country during the holidays and Rafael always invited me out to his family gatherings and made me feel welcomed.

2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
At the program: There is a large lack of sanitation in the clinics, for example washing off a nebulizer used by one patient in water and giving it to the next.
At the accommodation: Rafael has a somewhat large home. I was volunteering by myself, but his home has 7 rooms, so a large group can volunteer at the same time.
About the country: The country is quite beautiful. You are sandwiched between mountains and ocean. Any chance you get to leave the city and go out on excursions you should take it because it is beautiful. The city on the other hand is quite dirty in some areas, there is trash strewn about in the streets and side of roads.

Volunteer Honduras
Volunteer Honduras

3- What was most difficult to experience?
At the program: It was difficult to see the conditions under which they have to practice medicine here. Sadly they are less than sterile in many of their procedures.
At the accommodation: The most difficult thing for me was adjusting to the food. I was eating less calories and mainly eating Carbohydrates. I also got sick 2 times from food I ate out so make sure you bring some Imodium and an antibiotic, and make sure you dont eat from street vendors.
The country: In Honduras there is a schedule, but the schedule is not really stuck to and the timing of the schedule ebbs and flows. This was not necessarily difficult to get used to, however it is odd for the first few days after coming from the highly scheduled days we usually have in America.

4- Any tips for future volunteers…
Clothing: For shoes I would bring something like chacos for excursions. Bathing suits if you want to be in the water. I wore work boots to the hospitals because you will be walking in mud and water and I would just rather having the protection over the comfort of tennis shoes. I wore flip flops around the house. Bring shorts and t shirts for around the house and going into town for the mall or store. Bring scrubs, if you go into surgeries you will have to change into a clean pair of scrubs. There is a laundromat close by to wash clothes.
Donations:  Bring gloves, head coverings, masks, and shoe covers. Gauze and other bandaging supplies like tape, shears, etc. You can also bring medications that you can buy in bulk like ibuprofen, Tylenol, stuff like that. Definitely bring a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.
Weather: I was here in the winter. It was between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit with 95% plus humidity every day. There were a couple of days when it was hot but for the most part the weather was not too bad temperature wise in the winter. However, it rains nearly every day in the winter. I would recommend an umbrella or rain jacket if you come in the rainy season.

4.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a.- a taxi is 25 limp per person no matter how close or far you are going
b.- there are plenty of banks to exchange money as well as atms
c.- if you forget anything from home, you can probably buy it at the mall (charger, soap, clothes, whatever)
d.- try not to come in with the mindset that the people here are in like desperate need of your help, they function just fine to their own standard, show up and do whatever tasks will help them do their jobs easier

Volunteering in Honduras

5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial), don’t leave blank:
This month has been quite an adventure for me. Things were off to an interesting start as soon as I landed.  Henry took me on a tour of the city and we started cultivating our friendship that would grow over the next 4 weeks with trips all over the place. Rafael made me feel welcomed as I got to spend both Christmas and New Years with his family, he even brought me out to a large meeting/party with a bunch of prominent members of the community.

I spent time in the clinics but most of my time was spent observing and participating in surgeries and the social security hospital. I was there for almost 3 weeks gaining a rapport with the doctors and surgeons. I learned quite a bit from the surgeons. I met two friends from Australia who were here for the first few days of my stay, then I had nearly 2 weeks of myself being the only volunteer here. Later 6 pre med student volunteers came also from the great state of Texas, followed by 1 pre PA student volunteer from Florida. Whether you come with a group or by yourself I would say that living and volunteering in Honduras is definitely something you should do.

It is a once in a life experience that you will only get if you just do it. The things that I have experienced here I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I am very glad that I made the decision to come. Looking back, 4 weeks has flown by, and I am happy to have been here.

Volunteer Honduras
Volunteer Honduras

6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals and security:
Accommodation: I stayed with Rafael, I had a bed and a bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower. The water is cold but it’s definitely better than not having water at all.
Meals: You eat 3 times a day. Breakfast is usually very small, just some carbs like toast and coffee. Lunch is usually the larger meal with rice, beans, and some sort of protein. The portion of protein is much smaller than a typical meal in America. Dinner is usually a little smaller than lunch and you will be having many servings of rice, beans, and plantains. In general you will be eating many carbs with little protein. You also do not eat many fruits or vegetables so I would recommend bring vitamin supplements. There is a grocery store nearby as well as fast food places if you wish to supplement your calorie intake.

Security: Rafael’s house has a locked gate just in front of the front door. There are bars on all of the windows. There are many places within walking distance of the house including the mall, grocery store, and one of the hospitals. There are parts of town that you probably should not go to, just don’t go there. You will be in a foreign Latin American country so just be smart. I was here by myself but I was never really worried about anything bad happening. Currently there is a not so great political situation happening here, but on the whole it did not affect me volunteering here. In fact I walked through the middle of a protest and nobody bothered me.

7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Program: My favorite memory from the program was getting to scrub in and assist with surgeries.
Country: My favorite memory from the country would definitely be one of the excursions I went on with Henry (a local tour guide, friend/employee of Rafael). We took a couple of buses out of the city to Rio Cangrejal. We went to a couple of hostels, swam across the river, hiked up to a waterfall, jumped off some rocks into the water, swam back across the river, and then hitch hiked back into town. It was quite a fun experience.

Volunteer Honduras
Volunteer Honduras

8.- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
Communication (Phone/emails/Online chat): I used the chat feature on the website prior to committing to the program, they were helpful answering any questions that I had and got back to me quickly.
Website Information: The website has pretty much everything you need to know on it. Definitely a good resource. Also, watching some of the videos that previous volunteers have created will give you a decent picture of what it is like at the program.

9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes
10 – Can you tell us how did you find or know about A Broader View?
I googled paramedic volunteer opportunities and the A Broader View website was one of the first results to come up.

 

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Volunteer Honduras Daniel Stogner
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