Cape CARES sends volunteer teams to Honduras to provide
free medical and dental services to people in locations where there is
little or no access to such services. During a one-week medical/dental mission,
a team of 15-20 volunteers will treat anywhere from 550-750 patients. We offer
friendship and develop a bond with the people in the villages we visit.
Sometimes a smile or a hand on the shoulder of a sick or frightened person is the best way to
show that we care.
On our first morning in Honduras, we leave the
hotel, taking with us our luggage and all supplies, and make anearly 2-hour drive to San Marcos, (called San Marcos of Langue, Department of
Valle). On the way, we may make a stop for additional supplies and a
“cultural market stop” for interest and souvenirs. When we refill fuel
in the trucks, there is opportunity to buy extra water bottles, juices,
Upon arrival at the site, all team members help
take supplies from the trucks and set up medical, dental and pharmacy
areas. Personal luggage goes into men’s or women’s dormitories. We set
up the clinics under the doctors’ and dentists’ directions. Clinic hours
are determined by medical personnel and usually start shortly after 8:00
a.m. and end shortly after 5:00 p.m., with about a 45-minute lunch
In advance of our arrival, village leaders
organize the scheduling of surrounding villages in order to facilitate
efficient care. Once we are operational, people come from 3 or 4
different villages each day. The local people at the site register the
patients to be seen for the day. The clinic workloads are set by the
medical and dental personnel.
Patients are given registration cards with their
names on them at registration. If they have been to the clinic
previously, their card will include their medical history since they
began coming to us. Patients are then triaged according to their medical
and dental needs. At the conclusion of treatment, the specialist lists
the treatment given and the medication, if any, prescribed. Pharmacy
personnel provide the patient with his/her meds.
At the end of each day, we tally the number of
patients seen, breaking down as to sex and age grouping as well as aldea
or village. At the end of the week, we provide this information to the
Cape CARES purchases 5-gallon water jugs of
potable water. There are small coolers at the site from which we can
take water for drinking purposes. We all need a water bottle; we
recommend you put your name on it so you can use it throughout the
week. We are served meals three times a day by local women who prepare
the food on site. The food is very good and local – with excellent
cooked vegetables, fresh fruit, tortillas, eggs, beans, chicken and some
extras for Americans such as cereal and peanut butter.
Laundry service is provided daily. Items to be
laundered are picked up by the laundress daily and our clean clothes are
returned that same evening. There are showers (water availability
varies, however) and toilets separated for Cape CARES personnel and all
others. Bedding is stored on site and consists of canvas cots, sheets
and one blanket and pillow per cot. Some air mattresses may be available.
The San Marcos living area is fenced-in and nightly security guards patrol.
We always exercise caution while traveling to and from this site. Many team
members awake early and go for a hike or walk in the countryside.
If you choose to do this, go as a group, and ask one of our security people
to accompany you. Our security people feel an obligation to protect us,
and are most willing to join in on a hike. Do not leave the compound after
Cape CARES has been providing services to Los
Encinitos since approximately 1990. Los Encinitos is a small,
relatively isolated, "aldea" or neighborhood of Sabana Grande, (a good
sized town, south of Tegucigalpa). The homes are widely spaced out and
there is no village center. The nearest neighboring aldea is Rincon,
about 1.5 miles away. The elevation is about 2,561 feet, and its
coordinates are N13.72644 W087.20831. The last 10 miles of our drive
leading to Los Encinitos is on a very rough dirt road. Pine trees and
scrub oaks are the predominant vegetation in this arid location. The
trip takes approximately one hour from Tegucigalpa and usually includes
a stop in Sabana Grande.
A local nun, Sor Maria Ignacia Diaz, who has lived there
with her family all of her life, hosts Cape CARES. Sor makes our 3
meals per day and arranges to have our laundry done for us. The
turn-around time for laundry is about one day, so packing clothes for
2-3 days is sufficient for most people. On our last night, we sometimes
go out for a 'farewell' dinner in Tegucigalpa - some people dress up a
bit for that. Most people wear scrubs throughout the day at clinic.
Bedding and towels are provided. You may also find scrubs available for your use at the site.
Sor has built a small compound that started out
as an orphanage. There are two dormitories - a men's and a women's, both
equipped with a primitive shower and toilet, and single beds. Other
buildings include medical and dental buildings, a chapel, kitchen and
dining area, as well as several other structures. The buildings are
constructed primarily of cinderblock, with concrete floors and sheet
metal roofs. Because of the relatively enhanced infrastructure and
length of time of in-service, this is Cape CARES most developed site.
While very rustic, it is comfortable. The site has limited electricity
from the grid; rain cisterns and local wells provide water for washing.
Drinking water is imported. We suggest you bring
a water bottle which you will be able to refill daily at the site. We
suggest you use this water for brushing your teeth.
Temperatures are generally in the 60's in the
early morning and can get up into the 90's in the afternoon, depending
on the season. It is often quite windy, with seasonal rainfall occurring
mostly between June and October.
The brigade spends a ½ day setting up the
clinics, typically in the afternoon of the day they arrive, and see
patients from 8-5 daily beginning the following day. The patients arrive
by foot, donkey and, more recently, by vehicles. They begin lining up
outside the gate of the compound around 5:00 a.m. as they are seen on a
first-come first-serve basis. They are given registration cards with
their names on them at registration and files are kept on site for all
registered patients. If they have been to the clinic previously, their
card will include their medical history since they began coming to us.
Patients are then triaged according to their medical and dental needs.
At the conclusion of treatment, the specialist lists the treatment given
and the medication, if any, prescribed. Pharmacy personnel provide the
patient with his/her meds.
The medical clinic provides a Third World version
of family practice, following patients over many years and treating for
a variety of acute and chronic conditions as well as screening and
referral for more serious conditions.
Our dental clinic provides an unusually broad
variety of services for such an undeveloped area. Oral surgery
encompasses about 50% of all visits. Restorative and hygiene account for
the majority of the remainder of visits. Some dentists have successfully
accomplished endodontics and bonded bridges. We have a good selection of
hand instruments for exodontias, operative and hygiene. Dentists need to
bring their own 4-hole hand pieces, and each team generally provides its
own restorative materials, although backup of most everything is stored
on site. Air pressure is provided by a gas powered air compressor. The
units are portable ADEC, and instruments are sterilized by autoclave.
There is a backup 7500 watt gas generator. The clinic has four portable
units to provide hygiene and restorative treatment as well as 2 other
portable chairs for OS and exams.
These two clinics were built by Agrolibano, a foundation which has been in existence since 1979, and which focuses on 3 areas - health, education,
and community development. Agrolibano’s mission statement follows:
“Our vision is to improve the quality of life of our people, promoting in a sustainable
fashion opportunities in community development, education and health, using social
responsibility models and to be able to replicate our models in other Honduran communities,
by motivating new alliances.”
The Bertin Umanzor clinic serves 9 communities that have a total population of 3,039. The clinic is staffed
by a full time nurse named Angelica. Infrequently, a doctor comes to clinic, but the visits
are irregular and Angelica is the primary provider of medical care. The clinic sees just over
100 children per year and about 300 adults. The main problems for children are abscesses,
dermatitis, and fungal skin infections. The two main adult problems are diabetes and hypertension. Parasites are common.
The pharmacy is quite well-stocked; the primary needs are antibiotics, creams for skin conditions,
fungal medication and vitamins for children. Angelica enjoys working with our physicians
and learning from them. The clinic has a waiting room, a vital signs, weight room, two exam
rooms, a dental room, a chart room and a pharmacy. It is clean and well-maintained. Agrolibano
typically charges 2 lempira per person, but all care would be free while Cape CARES is there.
Apacilagua is a somewhat new site for Cape CARES. Agrolibano has recently constructed a clinic in this area and, in June 2016, our first team will provide services at the clinic. The people in Apacilagua have had no
other access to care and the degree of poverty in this area is even greater than that in Bertin Umanzor.
As in Bertin, 40% of the 'households' in Apacilagua lacks latrines. Many houses
have only dirt floors which is a serious problem during the rainy season. Some houses
are made of earth and others are constructed of plastic and cardboard. The
children lack sufficient clothing and many wear only long t-shirts. As part of
its community development efforts, Agrolibano has helped to put some houses up on stilts.
They have also built schools in addition to clinics.
Agrolibano has a new, modern house where volunteers stay. It is equipped with
electricity and has 4 bedrooms, each with its own bath and shower. It has a kitchen,
laundry area with washing machine, and common room. It is gated with enough room to hold
at least 4 trucks. A community person is available for hire to prepare meals and do laundry.
Cape CARES is an independent, nonprofit humanitarian organization. It is unaffiliated with and not a subsidiary of any other organization.