January 2008 Trip

 
January 2008 Group
"The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity."
                                                       ~ Leo Tolstoy
 

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Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras
Medical Mission Trip
January 2008


On Wednesday, January 16th, 2008, fifteen health care professionals from five states left the U.S. bound for Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and the seventh in a series of medical / dental mission trips sponsored by Gehlen Catholic Schools. Once in Honduras they would be joined by ten native Hondurans that would assist in various ways.

 

This year's medical brigade was composed of: Francis Seivert, Team Leader, Elkton, SD; Dr. Carlos Delgado, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Dr. David Goo, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Dr. Jessica Doyle, Decatur, GA; Warren Steinbrueck, Pharmacist, Le Mars, IA; Gene Lydon, Pharmacist, Sioux City, IA;  Dr. Richard Hettinger, Dentist, Sioux City, Iowa,  Luz Marna, Dentist, El Guante, Honduras; Susan Doyle, Nurse-Midwife, Atlanta, GA; Jessica Sitzmann, Nurse, Omaha, NE; Leah Wernimont, Nurse-Dental Assistant, Pocahontas, IA; Natasha Wernimont, Nurse, Chicago, IL; Sister Juanita Polak, Interpreter, Omaha, NE; Julio Rivera, Interpreter, Decatur, GA; Father Jim Tigges, Medical Assistant, Le Mars, IA; Carolyn Bickford, Medical Assistant, Le Mars, IA; Sister Fatima Carcamo, Interpreter, El Progresso, Yoro, Honduras; Fausto Suarez Andino, Interpreter/Driver, El Guante, Honduras; Angel Paz, Health Promoter/Driver, El Guante, Honduras; David Castro, Program Assistant, El Guante, Honduras; Tacha Alvarado, Program Assistant, Esquias, Honduras; Dona Dulce, Cook, Sulaco, Honduras;  Julio Martinez, Driver/Guide, Montana de la Flor, Honduras.
 

Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras Medical Team 2008


Team Leader Francis Seivert, Elkton, SD, said, “Our team this year encountered numerous medical issues we have never seen or faced on any prior mission. We saw a great deal of malnutrition among the Xicaque, more than ever. The Kids Against Hunger food shipped into Honduras makes a big difference.  I wish to thank this wonderful group of people from both the United States and Honduras that made a difference in the lives of so many. Our time spent in Honduras was well worth the effort when you see the smiling faces of those you have just helped.”

 

Once each year, Gehlen Catholic School sponsors this medical mission to central Honduras, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. It is nine plus years since Hurricane ‘Mitch’ literally destroyed much of the infrastructure of this small Central American country. Much of the country is still in great disrepair and health care, although improved in the past few years, is still minimal to nothing in many remote and outlying areas. The Gehlen program has successfully sent medical teams to Honduras for the past seven years. In total, 142 doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, translators, and general medical helpers have traveled to Honduras in these past seven years as part of the Gehlen program.
 

The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.
                                                 ~ Helen Keller

Medical team reaches Monterey after 2 1/2 hour trek through the mountains

Team crosses 1 of several streams enroute to Monterey

Faith takes the word
'IMPOSSIBLE'
out of our vocabulary.

 

Over the years the Gehlen program has sent ‘nine’ high school teams, ‘four’ university teams,  and ‘two’ other Midwest groups. The high school student team that will travel to Honduras this March is the 22nd trip sponsored by the Gehlen program. With the high school team this coming March the program will have placed 444 missionaries on the ground in Honduras.

 

Once in Honduras this year's medical brigade traveled north for an overnight stay in the village of Esquias. They prepared that night by packing medicines and equipment for the next morning's long journey into Montana de la Flor, the home of the Xicaque (Tolupan) people. With five trucks loaded down by medicine and equipment the team of 25 headed out Thursday morning, January 17th, to the northeast corner of Francisco Morazon and their first day of clinic. The Tolupan of Montana de la Flor are the oldest ethnic group known in Honduras. This group of indigenous people, composed of five tribes, has lived in that area of Honduras for hundreds of years. Their language, Tolupan, is over five thousand years old and is directly related to the southernmost Sioux Native Americans, the Hokan Sioux. The Tolupan are one of the poorest and most remote peoples living in Honduras today. In a normal situation they would have to walk many hours to get any medical attention at all. From where this medical team set up a base camp at a place called La Ceiba (the furthest the trucks can drive), it can still take those who live even higher in the mountain a few hours to get to clinic.
                                                        

Dr. David Goo & Dr. Jessica Doyle examine baby on the mountain trail

If you want happiness for a lifetime,
help somebody.

Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.
                                 ~ Samuel Johnson

Makeshift dental clinic in Monterey


This team became the first Gehlen Medical Team to set out on foot for a one-day clinic in an area called Monterey, 2 ½ hours north of the base camp of Le Ceiba. Because the mules and horses that had been hired for the journey did not show, the team members were forced to carry all their medicines and equipment by hand. The trip even further up the mountain required crossing six rivers and was often arduous and dangerous.

 

Fr. Jim Tigges, pastor of St. James Catholic Church, Le Mars, on the trip as a general medical assistant commented, “This trip was another chance to experience the simple yet beautiful faith of a people who live in and with poverty every day. Their joy and happiness despite having nothing, causes me to stop and thank God for the people and the things in my life that really matter: water, food, life.”

 

Because the Gehlen  medical teams have started to shift focus primarily to bringing health care to the Tolupan, this year's medical team spent their entire Honduras medical mission in Montana de la Flor with the Xicaque.

 

During their mission with the Tolupan, this medical brigade treated 627 Tolupan. Our patients were 17 % children, ages 5 and under, and 73 % female. Our two dentists saw 91 patients and extracted 193 teeth while in the Montana de la Flor – 7 teeth from one patient alone. During our trip to Montana de la Flor our two pharmacists filled 2,154 prescriptions and were kept busy by the three doctors, the two dentists, and the three nurses on the trip.
 

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
                                             ~ Albert Einstein

Nurse Tasha Wernimont begins an IV on an injured man
Girl with microcephaly (small brain) is carried to clinic by her father

Children are a gift from the Lord, a child is a reward from Him.
                                      ~ Psalm 127:3


Some of the major illnesses / diseases our team treated were: a great deal of malnutrition, malaria, dengue fever, chagas disease, diarrhea, parasites, funguses, hypertension, diabetes, asthma and pneumonia, other pulmonary problems requiring nebulizer treatments, urinary and vaginal problems, many infections, fevers, skin diseases (head, body, feet), a good deal of tuberculosis (in and out of treatment), scabies, lice, many pregnant women with minimal to no prenatal care, many lacerations and wounds from machete injuries, ear problems, total body pain, otitis media, strep throat, and a great many eye problems due primarily to burning wood in the homes. We consulted with every known pregnancy in the area about health issues. Our nurses checked blood pressure on all patients, temps on some, and gave shots when necessary.

 

On coming into clinic each patient received piperazine and mebendazole for parasites and worms, all children were weighed and measured, and this was followed by an examination by our nurses. Throughout each day they triaged those who were the sickest to the front of the line – to be seen by one of our doctors as fast as possible.  Each patient that came to clinic, along with receiving their prescribed medicines, also received soap, shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and vitamins to take with them.
 

People of Montana de la Flor thank the medical team


Our country is the world - our countrymen are mankind.

           ~ William Lloyd Garrison

There is no religion greater than human service.

Jess Sitzmann, Carolyn Bickford, & Tasha Wernimont work the pip line

~ Albert Schweitzer


Carolyn Bickford, junior high language arts teacher at Gehlen, on the trip as a general medical assistant commented, “Though we gave the people of Montana de la Flor medicine that would eliminate their parasites for a month or two, I felt frustrated that we couldn’t do more. This medical mission showed me how important our water projects are because clean drinkable water would lessen the parasites that plague them daily.”

In a typical year, Gehlen Catholic High School obtains free medicine from four different humanitarian agencies to be used during international medical mission trips like this. This year we were able to get all of our medicine from MAP International, Brunswick, Georgia, and purchased the rest from HyVee Pharmacy, Le Mars, Iowa. Much thanks to MAP and those at HyVee Pharmacy.

For a more complete explanation of the Tolupan people go to Anne Chapman’s book Masters of Animals.

Richard Seivert, director of Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras, commented, “This year’s trip was once again an incredible experience. To a non-health care professional like myself, I am always amazed to see and hear what these doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and translators do during a mission experience like this.  It is a great testament to them to give of their time, talent, and treasure to bring health care to a very poor people. I know they will never forget their experiences.”

 

Seivert also gave praise to the many wonderful friends in Honduras that helped make this mission trip a success.






Click above to browse the January 2008 Trip Photo Album...



Click this link to watch a movie of the January 2008 trip.

 




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709 Plymouth St. NE           Fax: 712-546-9384    
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