Jeffrey Borkan, MD
Honduras: May 2008

A meaningful adventure filled with a multiplicity of endearing people, beautiful vistas, healthcare, dramas, and even intrigues. It started with a striking night entry by our family, met by about 20 people from the village of Guachipilincito in the pitch black (electricity was out) and the communal unloading of our gear, into a two room adobe, mud floored house, complete with working latrine and a newly installed outdoor shower. It ended again in the night (again with the electricity out) by the light of a kerosene lantern as Don Felipe (the key health leader in the village) and the father of the house where we were staying played guitar and sang folk songs at our goodbye "party". Three weeks is a short time, but presumably enough for impressions to form, events to unfold, and some work to be accomplished on this working vacation:

410 patients were seen in a series of clinics in the community building on the school grounds; 175 children received dental varnish, toothbrushes, vitamins, dental hygiene and some nutritional counseling - including all village students from kindergarten through 6th grade and many under five. Of these, 55 children got the whole Children Health Initiative assessment (vision, weight/height, hematocrit, anti-parasite medication, some counseling, and finally an assessment and medical exam - and a bag of vitamins - with follow up if they were anemic or malnourished)

71 houses of the 100+ in Guachipilincito and environs got a health and census visit from either Jeff or two Brown students who accompanied Don Felipe or his wife Doa Rosa; plus 5 home visits.

The water filter program moves from planning to implementation with the delivery and distribution of the first 50 home filters (made by Potters for Peace).

The whole Brown Shoulder to Shoulder Board undertakes an unprecedented 2 day visit to the Guachipilincito and Concepcion, a larger clinic was performed, and there were 2 meetings with the village and the local Shoulder to Shoulder committee

Discovery of pathways with gorgeous vistas in all directions: some are easy to follow as the road to the major river and the wire suspension foot and horse bridge that divides the Department of Intubica (like a state) from that of Lempira, or the old walking path to Concepcion, past the village's original water source and across a smaller river, and some are so winding and obscure, that even the locals get confused. Almost all involve steep grades that make us sweat buckets in the hot humid days. When the locals say it takes 20 minutes to walk somewhere, it takes us double - and they rarely are out of breath or break a sweat.

Overall, it was quite a time for all four of us with the growth of relationships, the exploration of the village, its institutions, and customs, provision of care, and hours of relaxation each evening. We hope that others will follow in building sustainable healthcare, educational programs, and develop interventions in the area.

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The Benjamin H. Josephson, MD Fund
Overlook Medical Center / Atlantic Health System
Summit, New Jersey
908-522-2853