My favorite part of every Honduras trip with CapeCARES is our school visit. We try to rotate schools every year so we are reaching a different group of students. Last March, our team traveled to the Isletas School, but this year we stayed a little closer, heading off right after breakfast mid-week to visit the San Marcos Abajo (lower) School since we were staying in the upper (Arriba) region of the village.
Most of us decided to go on foot, running into some students who were also on the way to school.
Walking along the road also gave us a chance to get a closer look at some of the sights we might miss from a speeding truck:
As usual, there was pandemonium when we arrived at the school. Don’t you remember the excitement of getting a visitor when you were in grade school? The teachers assembled the students into lines (except for the older boys, who coolly decided to hang out in the back), welcomed us, and then organized a little performance for us:
I liked to dance along to the music, which made a lot of the kids giggle. (I know they’re laughing at me. It’s ok. I have no shame). I also recognized a young boy whose tooth I had extracted the day before. When I asked in Spanish how he was feeling today, he gave me a shy smile and wave and answered that everything was good.
Next, it was time to provide quick lessons in oral hygiene. I willingly handed over this job, which I have done for the past two years, to Josh, who gave excellent brushing instructions in his neon pink Kevin Bacon shirt :). As he spoke, we distributed toothbrushes to each of the students. Then Okie talked for a bit about handwashing, hydration, and nutrition.
Once our home care instructions were done, we split up into teams to apply fluoride varnish to the kids’ teeth. This went quickly because we had so many volunteers from our group helping out.
Once the varnish applications were complete, we said our goodbyes and continued down the road. Team leader Randy thought it was important for all the team members to visit part of the local village to see how our patients live. While we were visiting, the medical team made a few house calls to homes with elderly residents who couldn’t make it up the road to our temporary clinic. One man who lived in a very basic lean-to comprised of narrow logs was in extremely dire condition: the physicians determined that he was suffering from congestive heart failure and there was nothing that could be done to save him. He died the next day.
With our house calls complete, it was time to get back to clinic and start seeing patients again. We crammed as many of us as possible into the bed of the truck to speed up the return trip to San Marcos Arriba.
On our way back up the road, we passed again by the school, and I saw something that made me cry out in excitement: the little kids were brushing their teeth! Yay!!!
And so ended another San Marcos school visit. I hope that the children will take some of our messages to heart and that we can make a positive impact on their health and quality of life.
For more information on our CapeCARES group, please visit www.capecares.com.