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Mission gives medical care, hope in Honduras

April 25, 2019 Digital Media Exclusive

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Honduras Hope Mission volunteers organize about 46 bags worth of medical supplies for use and distribution on a weeklong mission in the central American country in February.
Lines to receive medical care at the clinics set up by Honduras Hope Mission for one week in February can begin forming at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. for the next morning.

Patients line up hours ahead of time to see doctor

MARS — Can you imagine lining up at 11 p.m. to see a doctor at 9 a.m. the next day? This is the scene Gary Weston paints of the medical clinics where he volunteered in Honduras.

Honduras Hope Mission has been providing medical care to impoverished communities since First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown started the mission in 2005.

Weston, the nonprofit's treasurer, said that what they do is anomalous with people in the United States seeing their primary care physicians annually.

This year, a team of 23 doctors, nurses, dentists, physical therapists and support personnel traveled to Villa de San Francisco in Honduras for a medical mission from Feb. 9 to 16.

That first trip to Honduras in 2005 included five people, and they didn't provide any medical care. One year later, about 500 Hondurans received care.

This year's team saw 2,626 people who were otherwise unable to access care.

“They're very supportive,” Weston said. “They look out for our welfare. Honduras can be a very dangerous community in terms of crime and corruption, but they very much want us to be there.”

Although medical care is provided by the government in Honduras, many poor people cannot get to the capital, Tegucigalpa, to access it. Weston said that volunteers team up with Hondurans to accomplish the mission of bringing care to the people directly.

“There are Honduran doctors, nurses and dentists who do this with us,” he said. “We're very dependent upon them. They depend on us for finances and supplies, but they help us with actually caring for the people with us as well.”

A week on this trip in Honduras includes setting up medical clinics in churches and schools for five days. On some of those days, multiple clinics are set up in two different locations. The medical professionals treat diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory problems, infection and other ailments.

“We did seven locations in the eight days,” Weston said of this year's clinics.

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Alexandria Mansfield

Alexandria Mansfield

Alexandria Mansfield is a community reporter at the Cranberry Eagle. She worked as a freelance reporter before joining the Eagle staff in July 2018. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania's journalism and public relations department in 2018 and from Wellsboro Area High School in 2015. While at IUP, she served as a reporter and editor at The Penn, the university's student-run, twice-weekly newspaper, and earned first place awards from Pennsylvania News Media Association and Pittsburgh Black Media Federation in 2017 and 2018, respectively, for her news coverage and investigative reporting.