Frequently Asked Questions
Do volunteers have to be medical or dental professionals?
Absolutely not! Our volunteers are people from all walks of life —- medical and dental professionals as well as individuals with various skills. And, you don’t have to speak Spanish either! All you need is the desire to share your time, energy, and compassion to help those who are less fortunate.
I’m not a medical or dental professional. How can I help at the clinic?
As a general support person, you may be asked to assist the doctors and/or dentists, help with registration of patients, care for an infant or entertain a young child while a parent is seen, help with eye-testing, sterilize instruments, act as pharmacist, or provide education on dental care.
Does Cape CARES provide the same quality of medical and dental care that is provided in the U.S.?
Given the limited resources, we attempt to give every person the best care possible. We adhere to the same standards of care that we use in the U.S. and respect the dignity of each patient.
What are the most common medical needs that we can expect to see?
In the medical clinic, many patients come to us for chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes (though far less than in the US), and osteoarthritis. We also see and treat for muscular strains (they all do manual labor), skin concerns, asthma, urinary tract infections, and parasites. Though not common, life-threatening situations have arisen. When circumstances necessitate, we will transport a patient to the hospital in Tegucigalpa.
What types of care does the dental staff provide?
Historically, most of the dental care provided was surgical—extracting badly decayed teeth. As the years have progressed, we have emphasized education and prevention, and, now, we provide fillings, dental cleanings, and fluoride treatments. Dentists and dental hygienists visit the schools to distribute toothbrushes and provide basic oral hygiene instruction.
Do volunteers have to be fluent in Spanish?
You do not have to speak Spanish to join a Cape CARES team. If you know the language or even a few words, that certainly helps. Since it's critical that we have personnel to translate for physicians and dentists who do not know the language, we oftentimes have students from the Discovery School in Tegucigalpa join our teams as translators.
What is the minimum age for a volunteer to participate on a team?
We accept volunteers 18 years of age and older. Volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Additionally, that parent or guardian must attest to the volunteer’s high level of maturity, willingness and readiness to work hard, and ability to endure challenging living conditions.
Is there a maximum age for a volunteer to participate on a team?
No. If you are in good physical and mental health, you will likely have a safe, positive, and productive experience. We have volunteers who are in their 80’s and who make significant contributions to the medical and dental clinics. If you have concerns about your personal health and whether or not you should be spending a week on a medical/dental mission in Honduras, please discuss this with your physician prior to joining a Cape CARES team.
Do I need a passport to travel to Honduras?
All American citizens must have a valid U.S. passport for travel to Honduras. Your U.S. passport must be valid for at least SIX months after your scheduled date of return to the United States. We encourage you to make two photocopies of your U.S. passport --- one to leave at home and one to bring with you to Honduras.
What documents do I need to provide as part of the application process?
a completed on-line application and application fee of $25
a signed Volunteer Agreement
a copy of your passport photo page
a copy of your driver's license, only required if you intend to drive in Honduras
a check made out to Cape CARES for the volunteer fee
a copy of your flight itinerary from the airline
(optional) a check for lempiras, (see lempiras info – scroll down 6 or 7 questions!)
FOR PHYSICIANS AND DENTISTS ONLY:
a copy of your current medical/dental license
a copy of your diploma
How much is the Cape CARES volunteer fee?
The volunteer fee is $900.
Each brigade has a link posted on our Trip Dates Page where you may pay your trip fee through the Network for Good. You may pay with Amex, MC or Visa. If you prefer to send a check, please send it to the address on our Donate Page.
The Cape CARES volunteer fee covers accommodations, meals, in-country transportation, and evacuation insurance.
Can I consider my volunteer fee a charitable contribution for tax purposes?
Absolutely! Your volunteer fee and airfare for travel to and from Honduras are considered charitable contributions for tax purposes. PLEASE NOTE: These contributions are eligible for matching if your employer has a Matching Gifts program. Please check with your Human Resources Dept. to see if such a program exists.
If I extend my trip by a day or two on either end of the clinic week, can Cape CARES help me with any expenses I incur as a result of doing this?
Sorry, but we just can’t afford to do that! Your Cape CARES trip begins and ends on the dates provided for your week. If you arrive in Honduras before the start of the clinic week and/or stay in Honduras for any length of time beyond the end-of-trip date, expenses incurred during these time periods are your responsibility. These include, but are not limited to, accommodations, meals, and transportation. Be sure to check trip dates, found on the Trip Dates page, before making your air reservations.
Will I need money for any meals or other expenses?
Cape CARES pays for all basic food and lodging, as well as for evacuation insurance for all volunteers in the event of a medical emergency.
You will need the equivalent of about $35- $40 for your departure tax. You can pay this with U.S. dollars, lempiras, a combination of the two, or with VISA or Mastercard.
Should I exchange some US dollars for the Honduran currency before leaving home?
You may do that, or, as a convenience, we can do it for you. We can exchange your U.S. dollars for lempiras prior to your trip so that you receive your lempiras upon arrival in Honduras. In order to ensure that you will receive your lempiras, you must send us a check 6-8 weeks prior to your departure date. Please submit a check for an amount that is a multiple of $50.
Make your check for lempiras out to Cape CARES or write only one check and include the amount for lempiras with your volunteer fee. Typically, volunteers request to have $50 or $100 converted to lempiras for spending money. You not only will not need a lot of cash in Honduras, (just some for souvenirs, tipping, departure tax, and other incidentals), but we recommend that you not carry a lot of cash while in the country.
If I withdraw from the team after submitting my volunteer fee, do I get a refund?
Our refund policy is as follows:
If you withdraw from the team:we will refund:
more than four months prior to departure:100% of your fee
2 to 4 months prior to departure:70% of your fee
1 to 2 months prior to departure:50% of your fee
If you withdraw less than one month before departure, we cannot refund any portion of your fee.
If you withdraw due to a death in your immediate family or a diagnosis of a terminal illness for either you or a member of your immediate family, we will refund 100% of your fee.
Does Cape CARES ever cancel trips?
It’s unusual for Cape CARES to cancel a trip. However, if we do, it is likely due to one of the following reasons:
1) We lack the minimum number of volunteers required to make a team.
2) We do not have a team leader.
3) Inclement weather that would jeopardize the safety of our volunteers while traveling to and/or serving in Honduras is forecasted prior to departure.
4) Either the US State Department or the Honduran Knights of Malta has advised us to cancel for safety purposes.
5) Extenuating circumstances exist and the decision to cancel is made based on a vote of: a) the Board of Directors, or b) at least three of the following officers: President, Vice President, Director of Physicians, Director of Dentists.
Does the same refund policy apply if Cape CARES cancels the trip on which I am scheduled to participate?
If Cape CARES cancels your trip, we will refund 100% of the fee or, if you prefer, we can apply your fee to any Cape CARES trip scheduled during the following 12 months.
When should I make my flight reservations?
We must have a copy of your flight itinerary at least 6 weeks prior to your departure for Honduras. Before making reservations, check with your team leader as to your team's target arrival time. We make every effort to have team members arrive within an hour or two of one another. As soon as you have confirmed your reservations, send a copy of your flight itinerary, by US mail or email, to the Cape CARES office.
** We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance at the time you purchase your ticket. If either you or Cape CARES cancels your trip for any reason, it is your responsibility to work with the airline for reimbursement or to transfer to another destination. Cape CARES assumes no responsibility, financial, or otherwise, for ticket charges when a trip is canceled.
If I arrive in Honduras before the start of the clinic week, how do I meet up with my team?
If you choose to arrive in Honduras before the start of the clinic week, you are responsible for getting to Toncontin Airport, where you will meet your team, on day one of the clinic week. Typically, volunteers flying into Tegucigalpa arrive anywhere between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Cape CARES administrator can tell you what time you should be at the airport in order to meet your team.
Into what Honduran airport should I fly?
Make your reservation so that you fly into Toncontin Airport in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. Our Honduran contact person, a member of the Knights of Malta, will have your flight information and expected arrival time and will meet you at the airport.
At the end of the week, do we go directly from our site to the airport?
No, you will have a chance to relax and freshen up before heading home. Your team will leave the clinic site the day before your departure date. You’ll drive into Tegucigalpa and, that night, you’ll stay at the Hotel Maya. That evening, the team will enjoy a festive farewell dinner, compliments of Cape CARES. The next morning, transportation is provided to Toncontin Airport where you need to pay your departure tax. This tax can be paid in cash, using lempiras, U.S. dollars, or a combination of the two, or with VISA and MasterCard.
Do I need to fill out a Customs form before returning to the United States?
Yes. On your return flight, you will receive a Customs form to be completed prior to entry into the U.S. When filling out the form, indicate that your reason for traveling to Honduras was for tourism.
Do I need to get any vaccinations before leaving the States?
Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria, and measles vaccines are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at the time of this writing. Hepatitis B is especially important in a medical/dental clinical environment. To review the CDC’s advisory, check its website at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.
Please consult with your personal physician in advance of the trip. Discuss with your physician and obtain medicines and vaccines needed for the trip. It is advisable to inform your team physician of your health status, any ailments, medications, and allergies you may have.
Is it necessary to take an anti-malarial drug before and during the trip?
When traveling to Honduras, most volunteers choose to take an anti-malarial drug. We recommend chloroquine for malaria prophylaxis, but check with your physician to see if he/she has other recommendations.
What are the accommodations like at each site?
Volunteers on the Apacilagua and Bertin Umanzor brigades stay at a new, modern house that is equipped with electricity and has 4 bedrooms, each with its own bath and shower. The house also has a kitchen, laundry area with washing machine, and common room. It is gated with enough room to hold at least 4 trucks.
In Los Encinitos, there are two dormitories - a men's and a women's, both equipped with a primitive shower and toilet, and single cots. Bedding and towels are provided.
In San Marcos, there are two dormitories - a men's and a women's. Bedding is stored on site and consists of canvas cots, sheets and blankets and pillows. Some air mattresses may be available. There are showers (water availability varies, however) and toilets separated for Cape CARES personnel and all others.
You can find more information about each site on the Our Sites page.
What is the food like in Honduras?
The food is great in Honduras. It will be prepared just for us each day in a safe manner so that we do not have to worry about illness. It is homemade and basic, like chicken and rice, or fried chicken, or rice and beans, with assorted local vegetables and fruits. If you are a vegetarian, please indicate that in the appropriate field on our application. A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating uncooked food, with the exception of fruit.
Is the water safe to drink?
Do not drink tap water. Only drink bottled water and be sure to drink enough during the day so that you do not get dehydrated. Bring your filled water bottle with you to the clinic. In addition, use bottled water when brushing your teeth.
I’ve heard strange things about the sanitary facilities in Honduras. Would you explain?
In Honduras, you don't flush toilet paper. Instead, you put it in the bucket next to the toilet. Water pressure is not great and even a small amount of paper will likely clog the pipes. The bucket will be emptied every day by the housekeeper.
How much luggage can I take with me to Honduras?
We ask our volunteers to try to pack all personal belongings in a carry-on bag. Since most airlines still allow passengers to check in one bag free-of-charge, we rely on volunteers to help us by taking a suitcase of medical supplies as their free checked-in bag. If you must check in a bag, you may take a suitcase with a maximum weight of 50 lbs.
Do you have a list of suggested items that volunteers should bring with them?
We sure do and, if you’re coming with us to Honduras, you should definitely use this list as a guide. Click here for that list!
With respect to clothing and footwear, what should I pack?
There is laundry service at all sites, so you can get away with a minimum amount of clothes.
At the clinic, you can wear scrubs, t-shirts, shorts or slacks. Some people prefer slacks so as to provide protection from mosquitoes. Out of respect for the Honduran people, we ask you to dress modestly -- no short shorts, short skirts, tight pants, and, for the women, no halter tops.
Typically, in the evening, people wear shorts, T-shirts, and sandals. You will need one casual, neat outfit for the 'farewell' dinner at the end of our week. Slacks or skirts for women are preferred in the city. Do not wear clothing with a "military" look, i.e. camouflage, etc.
For footwear, we suggest hiking boots or supportive sneakers with socks for the clinic, open shoes or sandals for after clinic, and flip flops for the shower.
You suggest I pack a bathing suit. When will there be opportunities to swim?
Because of a long drive from the airport to San Marcos, the San Marcos team spends its first night at Hotel Real Vista Hermosa in Nacaome. Early the next morning, the team leaves the hotel and drives another hour or two to the clinic.
All teams spend the last night before returning home at Hotel Maya in Tegucigalpa.
Both Hotel Maya and Hotel Real Vista Hermosa have air-conditioning, TV, showers, and a swimming pool.
Can I do laundry while at the clinic?
Members from the community prepare meals and will do laundry for Bertin Umanzor and Apacilagua volunteers.
In Los Encinitos, Sor 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.
In San Marcos, laundry service is provided daily. Items to be laundered are picked up by the laundress and our clean clothes are returned that same evening.
When staying at either the Hotel Maya or Hotel Real Vista Hermosa, hotel staff will do your laundry for a fee.
Is it safe for me to bring valuables such as jewelry, sentimental items, credit cards, etc.?
Please leave valuables at home. Travel with a small amount of cash and a minimum number of credit cards. While in the city and at the airport, be aware of those around you. Cape CARES is not responsible for any lost or stolen items.
Will I be able to use my cell phone at the site?
Your cell phone may or may not work in-country. We suggest you purchase an international calling plan from your carrier.
Can I take my laptop and/or tablet to the clinic?
You may, but we don’t advise it. In fact, we strongly recommend that you leave electronic devices at home. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to connect to the internet while at any of our sites, and, if your hope is to work off-line, we still suggest you leave these items at home.
I'm a physician, are there supplies that I can bring from home that would be helpful?
Absolutely…thanks for asking! Any items from the list below would be helpful:
Several surgical kits
A quick reference for prescribing
Any good very simple patient education materials in Spanish
I’m a dentist. What supplies can I bring from home that would help in providing care?
We would appreciate it if you can bring any of the following:
Some resorb sutures
H.P. angle if you are using the electric HP----otherwise 4 hole handpieces for the unit
100 feet or so of 3 wire extension cord if you use the generator (maybe multi plug adapter
Local anesthetic 200 to 300 carps
Boxes of needles (just in case)
Flashlights and batteries
Matches or spark lighter for the stove
What instruments and/or supplies can an RN bring from home?
a well functioning glucometer with disposable lancets and strips
an electronic BP machine
Note: An RN who traveled with a team to El Algodonal said “while there are tons of supplies, it's best to bring your essential triage tools with you"
What is the weather like in Honduras?
Honduras is hot, usually humid, and can be about 88-100 degrees by mid-day. The rainy season begins in early summer. During this season, there may be rain showers and thunderstorms daily. They are, however, brief and blue skies and sun quickly replace the clouds.
Can we bring gifts for the Honduran children?
The Cape CARES board has established a policy of not bringing gifts to individuals in the villages. Please do not bring candy or toys, or other items to give away to the villagers. However, "good patient" stickers for the children are acceptable and can be given at the end of the appointment.
I’m an avid hiker. Are there opportunities for hiking in the areas surrounding the clinic?
Sure. Many of our volunteers enjoy an early morning hike before the clinic day begins. We strongly advise you, however, to use the buddy system --- never go out alone, and always let someone else know where you are going. It is also unwise and very dangerous to go out after dark. We have never had an incident, but caution is highly recommended whenever you leave the team and/or site.
If someone from home needs to contact me, how do they do that?
Contact numbers follow:
Jerry Sobieraj, President 617-610-0048
Jane Hopkins Walsh, Vice President 617-549-3180
Randall Baldwin, DMD, Director of Dentists 203-438-5174
Warren Johnson, MD, Co-Director of Physicians 720-934-3665
Valerie Baccinelli, Executive Director 508-631-4848
U.S. Embassy (after hours)011-504-2236-8497
Knights of Malta?011-504-2238-1456
Bernard Casanova, Member, Knights of Maltabernardcasanova@gmail.com?
Norma Urbina, Member, Knights of Maltabernardcasanova@gmail.com?
Hotel Maya, Tegucigalpa011-504-2280-5000?
Hotel Real Vista Hermosa,