Our Work During COVID-19: Water, Food and Vitamins
Updated: Nov 12, 2022
For over 30 years, Cape CARES has sent medical and dental brigades to the extremely impoverished rural areas in the southwest region of Honduras to provide care for the local villages free of charge to the patients. One of the major barriers to receiving healthcare in Honduras is lack of access to healthcare providers like doctors, nurses, dentists, and hygienists. The CDC reports that there are approximately 0.37 physicians per 1,000 people and 0.7 dentists per 1,000 people in Honduras. Despite major efforts of international aid groups and the Honduran Ministry of Health, the rural impoverished population remain highly underserved.
Aligning with the World Health Organization and the local community’s goals of increased access to health and dental care, Cape CARES made it their mission to provide high quality community-based care. Over the decades this has included team-centered primary care, medical and dental treatment, preventive care, health education, and training for the local communities using a prolonged engagement primary care model. These comprehensive services are delivered to the rural communities in and surrounding Los Encinitos Francisco Morazan, San Marcos Valle, and El Rodieto Fransisco Morazan. All are mountainous rural villages with extremely difficult access on unpaved roads that often are inaccessible in the rainy season. Our teams of dedicated volunteers have worked hand in hand with the communities for over 30 years, caring for multiple generations of families, building lifelong relationships with community leaders, employees, and patients. We would not be able to do this imperative work without your support! We thank you all our supporter, donors and volunteers.
In February 2020, two teams went to Honduras as scheduled, however when they returned to the United States, everything suddenly changed. Covid-19 halted Cape CARES completely, and for the first time in 30 years, we could not return to Honduras. By March 2020 Honduras, like all countries, had implemented very intense travel restrictions. News from the villages was limited, and anxiety and worry set in. However, by April of 2020, Cape CARES Board of Directors were in high gear, working remotely with community leaders to provide community-based care and strategize on Community First partnership programs that we could accomplish during the pandemic. With the help of our supporters we began regular meetings and communications to support remotely and began planning for our return.
First, Cape CARES Board of Directors decided to donate all our medication and PPE from our sites to Hospital Escuela the public hospital in Tegucigalpa. Next, we worked in partnership with Mayor Potencial and Knights of Malta to assess community needs. Fortunately, due to the remote locations and strict travel restrictions within the country, COVID-19 infections were very scarce in the rural villages, however, food insecurity and lack of clean water was a major concern.
Cape CARES and Mayor Potencial, a community partner, decided to work together, each undertaking their own projects with GlobalGiving while Board Members, community leaders
and employees all collaborated with ideas. Cape CARES decided to created a prenatal vitamin program with the goal to provide prenatal vitamins to all the pregnant and lactating mothers in El Rodeito and the surrounding area. Working with Mayor Potenical, USAID, Knights of Malta, community leaders, and local Honduran health professionals, El Rodeito received over 1000 bottles of prenatal vitamins, enough to provide vitamin supplements for pregnant and breast-feeding women in 9 villages for up to two years. Cape CARES Board of Directors hope to bring this program in Los Encinitos and San Marcos when we return to our clinics.
Next, Mayor Potencial began working on their clean water project, with the goal to bring access
to clean water to every household in El Rodeito. Board members of Cape CARES helped brainstormed ideas of water filtration systems that could be managed and maintains by the community. Mayor Potencial met with community members of El Rodeito and together they decided on the best option for their village.After many months of organizing, consulting and planning, in November of 2020 Mayor Potencials project succeeded in their goal to bring water filters to El Rodeito. “Water Mothers and Fathers” were trained in how to use and maintain the filters, and everyone in the community now has access to cleaner safer drinking water.
Most recently, we spoke to Nancy Bell, the Executive Director of Mayor Potencial and she informed us that COVID cases are practically nonexistent in and surrounding El Rodeito, but that hunger continues to be widespread. Mothers who are nursing are experiencing insufficient milk production, and babies are without alternatives to breast milk due to the very high cost of formula. Diapers and other necessities are needed, and toddler are not receiving enough nutrition due to lack of food. This level of hunger seems related to the pandemic and poor economy, business shutdowns and mobility restrictions limiting work options causing widespread hunger in the rural communities. Although the prenatal vitamins are currently in hand, vitamins taken without sufficient food may cause nausea and vomiting. Food became a huge priority for Cape CARES and Mayor Potencial who have been working with village leaders to procuredonations. Recently Lions Club HND had a small donation of food that went to the school grades 1-6 but only served a small number of families, leaving many without. On April 6th 2021, thanks to the coordinated efforts and dedication of Cape CARES Board
members, Mayor Potencial, and community leaders, the Knights of Malta, and USAID donated over 1000 pounds of food to the villages around El Rodeito. The donations included rice and beans, but also included much needed masks, and sandals for the babies and children. Over 100 families from surrounding villages received 10 pounds of rice and beans, masks and footwear. Volunteers from Mayor Potencial and village leaders organized an outdoors COVID-safe community celebration where the food donations were passed out to families in need.
Fully vaccinated volunteers from Cape CARES are actively planning to return to Honduras in October of this year, 2021, and we plan to serve high priority patients from both San Marocs region and El Rodieto. We will extend our service week to see as many patients as possible. We will be implementing international COVID planning guidelines around social distance and masking, triage and isolation of ill patients. Thanks to our Community First Partnership Program, we are strengthening our community-based health care programs and expanding them to all our sites in Honduras. The past year of the pandemic has been a challenge for all, most especially the children and families in remote rural Honduras where health inequities, and social and economic disparities are baseline challenges.
Thank you for your support over the past year. Getting back to Honduras will be costly, and we appreciate your dedication to help us return! Donations will assist in restocking all our supplies and medications that were donated during the pandemic. We cannot do this important work without you.