Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Helping Hand

I have officially been in Gracias for 40 days and it seems as if each day I experience something new. It either, challenges me, scares me, shocks me, or in today’s case makes me happy.

We met Melissa and Kevin, a missionary couple a few weeks ago at our school. They picked up and moved their 4 children down to Gracias to share their love of God as well as help children in need. Lempira (the state I live in) is the poorest in Honduras with a large number of homeless and starving children. They decided to sponsor 2 children to go to Minerva, where I teach. Through our chats, we learned that they started a feeding center for children, more commonly known in the States as a Soup Kitchen. Each Saturday they travel the mile and a half up the mountain to one of the poorest communities in Gracias to feed children. A few days ago they asked all the American teachers at Minerva if we would be interested in helping out; preparing, cooking, and serving food and playing with the children.

In my eyes today was a day no one can put a price on.

The 10 of us started out the day walking the mile and a half up the mountain to what I thought would be a building with a large kitchen to feed about 75-80 kids. Oh how I was so wrong. We were half way up the mountain when a nice family picked us up in their pickup truck. Yes, we hitchhiked in the back of their pickup truck! As we chatted through the back window with one of the passengers, we found out coincidentally we had been picked up by the Honduran woman whose house we were cooking and feeding these children at.
Here we are riding in the back of the truck: I'm on left, Kevin, Jenna, Kevin's daughter and Sarah D. There were 3 more kids, plus Sarah and Kristin in the bed of this truck :)

When we arrived at Beatty's house we were immediately in go-mode. She showed us that there are people in Honduras who can be efficient and delegate people for jobs. A trait I have yet to be displayed by any other Honduran. I was give the role of helping out in the kitchen (not sure why, I have never been a master chef in the kitchen…at all!!) Luckily all I had to do was cut and prepare vegetables, as well as pull cooked chicken off the bone.
Annie, Sarah D. and I were preparing the vegetables

Pulling HOT chicken off the bone. Kristen G. and had raw fingers after that!

After my duties were fulfilled I went out to watch the children play games with one of the Honduran men who came to help. It was so fun watching these kids play games and have fun. But the most heartbreaking aspect was some of them didn’t have any shoes or proper clothing and even though they were having fun I knew food was on the back of their mind. Who knows when they got their last proper meal!

   Some of the children playing games with one of the Honduran men.

               Helping one of the woman serve the food

The meal was finally ready around 12 but some of the children had become impatient and left because they had been there since 9. So we had about 50 children and mothers to serve. I can honestly say that seeing these little ones eat a proper meal was outrageously fulfilling yet so saddening at the same time. We cooked for them rice with carrots, green beans, chicken and onion with a slice of bread. By no means in American standards was it a large meal. Yet some of these children took 2-3 bites and then took the rest of the food back to their home to feed other family members.
                   The meal we helped prepare for them. Pretty basic!
At one point all of the children had been fed and Beatty insisted that we eat. We looked at each other, how we could possibly eat part of this meal when these children are hoarding food to take back to their families. We kindly said no, but there was no going around this one, either we offended Beatty and continued to say no or we ate a plate with guilt. I have never been so torn in my life. But I had no choice, I was not allowed to leave the kitchen without a plate shoved into my hand. As we tried to force the food down, don’t get me wrong it wasn’t that the food wasn’t good; we just couldn’t stomach eating it thinking about all the children who had left because they were impatient and hungry. I could afford to buy food after we left, they couldn’t.
                                  Their outdoor stove
As we sat and chatted with the missionaries and Beatty we learned about the issues surrounding children in Lempira. There is only one person to oversee child abuse cases in Lempira. It is hard to imagine but the state of Lempira isn’t very big but there are a lot of small communities embedded in these mountains and there aren’t a lot of roads to travel on. Their goal is to build a child rescue center where these children can come live and get proper nutrition.

But until the child rescue center is built, the feeding center will continue to take place out of Beatty’s kitchen. She is a woman who doesn’t have much but what she has, she feels is important to share with her community. A Honduran lifestyle that, really is important to who they are as a community and culture.

I felt so blessed being able to help these children eat a proper meal and forget about their troubles for a few hours. But the help didn’t stop there.

One of my roommates recently got a colon infection. She was in and out of the doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with her. But they finally figured it out and were able to give her the proper medication. However, unlike in the States, where you would receive medication in pill form, she received it in liquid form. She was given instructions that she had to inject herself in the butt with her medication for 5 days. Well, yesterday was her first day of this injection. But giving yourself an injection in the butt is really unattainable unless you are Inspector Gadget with your go-go-gadget arms. So she asked us if anyone would be willing to inject her. I can’t say I immediately jumped at the chance, but after making eye contact with my other roommates it was clear they were too scared to do it.
       Sarah W. and I putting the medicine into the syringe

Luckily teamwork was crucial in administering the shot. Sarah W., put the medicine in the syringe, Kristin was my aide, she held Colleen’s butt cheek together and I was the doctor and inserted the needle. 

Before this all took place I felt okay until I had the needle in hand and was standing over her butt. It is a lot more nerve racking than you think. Colleen had told me not to worry but that she would probably scream. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I wasn’t really surprised. 

So as I administered the shot, Colleen was dead silent. I could practically hear the liquid leaving the syringe and entering her blood stream. After it was over, I looked at her and asked her if she was okay. To my utter surprise she said “Yeah, it hurt but you actually did a better job than the doctor!” We all burst into laughter…did I honestly just stick a HUGE needle into my roommates butt?

But I couldn’t have done it without the help of my nursing staff hahaha!


  1. This was so heartwarming to read. You are doing something so wonderful, and I admire you for it! =) Shots in your roomies butt and all =)

  2. Excellent story and excellent pictures too. Well done.