Wednesday, September 17, 2014

May, 2014 Trip Report by David Makepeace

General - Veterans David Makepeace and Doug Young along with new recruits, Keith Lyons , Phil Schedlbauer and Ryan Ferguson were met in San Pedro by NY/HELP in-country coordinator, Yovany Munguía and went immediately to Yoro where we stayed over and bought supplies for our stay in the villages. We visited the house we used to support in Yoro and had a nice talk with Petronila and José Feliciano and admired the progress in expanding the house capacity. We were excited to be working past La Laguna and down in the low villages of Mescales, El Chorro, Las Brisas and Los Cuchillos. As our supporters know, the tribal council directs where we work (with the agreement that we spread our efforts among all villages). This is the most remote area of the tribe, and they were happy to receive our visit.
            Through our local part-time facilitator, Joel Ramírez, Yovany had done a fantastic job setting up our work projects. The trip began in La Laguna with a meeting with the Health Committee in the clinic. The meeting was productive, and the next day we headed to our work area. Yovany stayed with us for the first two days, and our accommodations were excellent in Mescales and later in El Chorro.
            On Sunday, we took and break for a three team soccer tournament before which NY/HELP was welcomed with presentations and skits by students in the Centro Básico in Mataderos including a moving rendition of the Honduran National Anthem in Tol (the local indigenous language which is experiencing a comeback in the tribe). We heard speeches of gratitude, and David Makepeace gave a short talk expressing our gratitude for their efforts in hosting our visit and reinforcing our point goals and commitment. The soccer game was temporarily interrupted by a large bull which scattered the crowd and gave some anxious moments. It felt like the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona during the Sanfermines.
            After the game we headed back to the clinic for one more night, craft buying and successful meetings with the Tribal Council and with Mauricia Castro at the Centro Básico. The next day we walked down the hill and headed to Copán for two well-earned days of rest.
Projects - We completed or contracted completion of 8 latrines. Salvador (our host in Mescales with his wife Ana) was our lead carpenter; however, when it became apparent that our group was replete with excellent carpenters in their own right, we were able to split into two groups and, thereby, be more productive. We also built a house from the ground up. It was originally scheduled as a new roof, but, upon arrival, we discovered that the holes for the horcones (uprights for the house) were still being dug. That did not deter us, and, by the end of the day, the house was standing and the roof was on.
Health Committee Meeting -
            At the start of the trip I met with Seydy, the nurse at the Centro de Salud in La Habana. She has begun construction of what will be an analysis lab and a dental office. She is very energetic and is interested in cooperating with us as she needs support. I told her that any support would have to go through our health committee but that I envisioned a flow of health care that began in La Habana and extended through our clinic to trained personnel in each of the villages. It, of course, would be a benefit to the tribe to have an analysis lab and dental office there. I discussed the possibility of asking the health committee or tribal council to send workers to help with the construction, and she was very amenable. I also suggested that she and Mirtila could run capacitaciones (training sessions) for personnel from the villages in the Centro Básico in Mataderos. I discussed all this at the Health Committee meeting and they agreed that it would benefit the tribe to have these facilities nearby.
          Other items at committee meeting -
1. We discussed the new form that Doug and Jeff created for Mirtila to report her hours, and they (including Mirtila) agreed that it would be great now that she is a full fledged 14 month employee. I left enough forms to last until August. Gordon should bring more. We agreed the hours would be from Monday to Friday, 8:00 to 3:00.
2. The committee wanted recognition for volunteering in the form of free services and some medicines. I mentioned that they deserved recognition, but, in light of the fact that we are trying to increase the income of the clinic and that the members are among the wealthier members of the community, that would look bad in front of the poorer people who we are trying to get to pay more. They agreed, and I said we would discuss other ways to recognize them including funding of expenses and opportunities to increase their knowledge about other centros de salud.
3. We discussed the need to have a contract for Mirtila and decided that NY/Help would suggest something in August.
4. We decided that members would receive 150,00 L. for transport and food for meetings of more than 4 hours.
5. We had some dispute about whether or not the money received by the clinic for services should be deposited in the new account for the Health Committee (which they opened by borrowing from Mirtila) and decided for the moment that Mirtila needed to control the money for purchase of new medicines but that she would continue strict accounting and that the  committee would have access once a month to those figures.
6. We never got to a work plan from May to December but did discuss the importance of inventory of medicines in the pharmacy as we know Mirtila gives free medicines to her friends. The committee likes the idea of working with Seydy in La Habana and planned to discuss quid pro quo for tribal support of the project.

1.  We distributed school supplies collected by Camille Makepeace’s International Club to schools in La Laguna, Mataderos, El Chorro, Mescales, and Las Brisas. We are sending her class pictures of the kids with the supplies.
2. I met with Mauricia and discussed increasing the utilization of the Centro Básico for adult ed. She said they have 33 students and have lost the 9th grade teacher. Because of computerized accounting by the government, we could not hide the numbers and keep the teacher. I agreed they could use the extra room temporarily for the kinder. She wants to take the lab and convert it into a kind of museum. I said that was great but that we should a tables and chairs also for conferences and adult educational activities. That is how we left it.            
3. In Mescales I agreed that we would fund the scholarships of the two children who dropped out of the Maestro en Casa program because of an assault coming over the mountain for the Saturday meeting.
4. Apparently, the Maestro program in Mataderos is not taking students from the Centro Básico as only one student is studying Plan Básico and the rest are in carreras, and that one student would not go to the Centro anyway. I did discuss with the Tribal Council the possibility of beginning a group in Agua Blanca of Maestro en Casa offering the Plan Básico. This would be a way of opening junior high to the low villages and is exciting. A member from Agua Blanca said he had already been assured that if he could get 20 students, they would send a teacher. He said he could get that number easily. This would be for next year and needs to be encouraged in the tribal council meeting in August.
5. We took pictures of our scholarship students and got the data that Jeff requested.
6. We told them the new scholarship money would be released when they delivered receipts to Yovany for the first half. They said that would happen soon.
Tribal Council Meeting-
1. This group is similar to the Health Committee with María Antonia de Martínez presiding. We discussed the Centro Básico and that student numbers are going down in all of Honduras. We said we would try to increase the scholarship program as we have been having success raising money specifically for that. This fund raising should be discussed at a NY/HELP meeting.
2. We reported the results of the Health Committee meeting and emphasized the importance of initiating cooperation with La Habana.
3. We had a long discussion about the Junta de Agua, which is essentially dead. Doug, Keith and Phil took and interest in studying the issue and I had Yovany send me the study that was done recently there, which I will have to translate for them.
Highlights -
We were very excited to treat Joel, our local rep to his first trip to Copán. Interestingly enough the President of Honduras was visiting, and Joel and our own Ryan Ferguson met him and had pictures taken with them. I made Joel get copies and take them home. He was very excited.
New members, Keith Lyons, Phil Schedlbauer and Ryan Ferguson were absolutely invaluable and expressed to desire to make another trip.
Respectfully submitted,
David Makepeace

Monday, August 18, 2014

NY/HELP August 2014 Trip to Honduras.

For the twenty-fifth year in a row, people from New York have participated in a NY/HELP mission trip to Honduras.  Six went on August 7, 2014, and for a little over a week, we participated in community activities in rural Indian villages in the mountains near Yoro.  We stayed at the medical clinic constructed by local people and New Yorkers in 1991, where Dr Gordon Comstock and pediatric nurse practitioner Ruth Shatzel saw well over 100 patients with diverse illnesses.  (Ruth had been a Peace Corps Volunteer nurse in Honduras some years ago, so she could see both the similarities and changes from before.)  We greatly benefited from the assistance of Mirtila Garcia, our long-term local nurse at the clinic.
We were helped immensely by translator Dan Beyer, who also worked with the rest of the group.  Retired social-studies teacher Judy Toner brought school supplies which were eagerly greeted by the students and teachers in local one-room schools, where a piece of paper or a pencil is a valued object!  Judy has also spearheaded a project to build kinders in the villages, where volunteer kindergarten teachers sometimes hold classes under the trees or in small windowless mud buildings.
Our photographer Connie Houde is also a skilled seamstress, and gave a Saturday class in sewing for some of the women of La Laguna.  She expected six to eight women, but actually had almost twice that number in the class.  Antonia Amaya, president of the Tribal Council, helped organize the work, as we only had two foot-powered sewing machines available.  Several women returned later to show off their newly-made bags and aprons. 
David Woodruff, who is currently taking courses at Lancaster Theological Seminary, brought his previous experience to the group.  He worked with the men and older students at three schools, where garden areas were fenced in and planted.  (The hope is that some of these students will go home and plant their own gardens!)  Three donated computers were brought with us, and David spent hours working with Mayna (who recently graduated from 12th grade with a diploma in computer work) to computerize the records of the clinic pharmacy.
Jorge “Joel” Ramirez, chairman of the Tribal Development Committee, did much of the local organizational work for these projects, and worked side by side with us, out in the tropical sun.  Yovany Munguía, our NY/HELP coordinator in Honduras, helped plan the program and kept us all on track for safe and effective work.  

One of our most important actions was to meet with the Comité de Salud (Clinic Committee) to affirm our support of the agreement empowering the committee in its work in managing the clinic.  This is a start, but many more steps are needed before our task is finished!
Our social schedule was also busy – we met with Bill Briggs (who initiated NY/HELP in 1989) in Yoro and toured the new Culinary Institute there.  Our 13 big bags of supplies were driven up to La Laguna by Cristhian Amaya, one of our former students at the "boarding house" in Yoro.  We enjoyed delicious meals and active banter with our cooks, Aracely and Odina, and comradeship with the people we worked with on our projects.  At the end of the trip, three of us spent a few hours at the beach at Tela, while the others stayed a few days more to tour the famous Mayan ruins at Copán.
All this would not be possible without your prayers and support.  Muchas gracias to all!
Gordon F. Comstock, MD

Saturday, August 16, 2014

From NY/HELP August Mission

Late last night "Dr Gordon" posted to Facebook:

"Greetings to all from Honduras. We are back in the city of San Pedro Sula after a great trip to the mountain village of La Laguna in the mountains near Yoro. Muchas gracias for all your prayers and support."

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mission Trip Arrives in Honduras

    The six people on the August mission trip to Honduras left yesterday morning from two airports, half from Buffalo and half from Syracuse.  They met in Atlanta and continued together to Honduras.

   The group was met at the airport by Yovany Munguía, our in-country coordinator, & Cristhian Amaya, who grew up in La Laguna & now works in San Pedro Sula. Cristhian had his boss's pickup which took the group's bags to Yoro, where they spent the night. There they met Bill Briggs, who began the NY/HELP program more than 25 years ago and now heads Honduras Hope. They visited the student boarding house & Cever (vocational school). Then they had dinner with Bill.

   The group goes up the mountain to La Laguna Friday, Aug 8.
   Thank you all for your interest and support.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August NY/HELP Mission Trip to Honduras Begins

The 3 NY/HELPers leaving from Buffalo Airport left early this morning. They will meet the other 3 at the Atlanta Airport and all will arrive in Honduras before noon, Honduras time.

As we hear from the group during their time in Honduras, more information will be posted.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Report from May 2014 Trip

Submitted by Phil Schedlbauer

After some ten years of encouragement, I finally made the trip to Honduras. I went with few expectations, this being my very first use of a brand new passport.  Once on the mountain, I was very impressed with the friendliness of everyone that we met.  The second day at Lalagua, we inspected the water system and shown the planting practices for beans, corn, coffee, and other crops. My lack of Spanish skills did not hamper my understanding of what was being explained, only my inability to ask questions.  The next day we hiked to Mescales, where most of our work was done.  The mountain views were beautiful and the small glimpses of family life were in sharp contrast to life in the U.S.

I found the tribe to be a hard working group that was willing to work together on the projects completed in the lower villages.  There was always a group of men and teenagers willing to help at each site.  The teenagers carried the forty pound boards two at a time to the work sites, a distance of 1/4 mile to two miles, without a complaint or hesitation.  I enjoyed each project.  I have learned how to frame a small house, install the roof, and to construct latrines while working with the locals.  I was not prepared for the gratitude expressed by individual families, students, and teachers for the simple gift of a latrine.  The ceremony (student skits, songs, speeches, music) at Sunday's soccer matches was very unexpected and never to be forgotten.

I have made donations to charitable causes, but this was the first time I have directly involved with the benefit of those donations.  The joy of students receiving school supplies and soccer balls, students and families posing with their new latrines, sharing a 3 liter bottle of coke with a group of children, working together on projects was very fulfilling and humbling. We were welcomed into many homes and treated like honored guests where ever we went. 

I look forward to returning to the mountain to work with the locals on other projects that we can assist with.  I would like to thank NYHelp for providing me this opportunity and I encourage others to make the trip.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Expanding Health Services

Amigos of NY/HELP,

During our May 2014 mission trip to La Laguna, David Makepeace and our coordinator Yovany Munguía had discussions with Seydy Roseli Aquilar, the head nurse at the Health Center in La Habana, about ways to improve the health care available to the communities around La Laguna and La Habana.   
The Health Center in La Habana sits along the main road to the "county seat" of Yoro (about 25 miles away), and provides the next level of assistance to the people of these mountains.   This is where our nurse Mirtila refers patients who require more medical care than she can provide at the clinic in La Laguna.
This project would definitely augment and improve the level of care available to the people of the coummunities around La Laguna with whom we have been working for the past 25 years.   I recommend we consider assisting in this infrastructure improvement.

Gordon F Comstock, MD
Health Advisor, NY/HELP Honduras


YORO, DEPARTMENT  OF YORO                     27/May/2014

Mr. David Makepeace
Coordinating Group New York Help

Dear Sir.

It is pleasing to say hello and wish you success in all your endeavors.

Through this I am writing to you in the first instance in order to recognize the charitable work done on behalf of low-income families, and encourage you to continue projecting yourself socially in our country.

After welcoming you to the following step, the main objective of this note is to request financial support according to your means, in improving the infrastructure of the health center “Leonidas Padilla” in La Habana, Yoro, and the donation of medical equipment to establish a clinical laboratory.

This application is supported by the care needs of the population of 5,543 people in a total of 32 villages, including the people attending the Clinic of La Laguna de Mataderos, because it is difficult to carry out medical lab examinations, as these laboratories are only found in the departmental capital of Yoro, Yoro, located a long distance from their communities.

Attached to this note are the respective budgets [for a small building for a clinical lab, and for the needed lab equipment.].


Seydy Roseli Aguilar Padilla
Bachelor of Nursing (R.N.)
Health Center "Leonidas Padilla"
La Habana, Yoro



25 bolsas
Lps. 165.00 c/u
Lps. 4,125.00
Cal para pulido
30 bolsas
95.00 c/u
60 metros
 150.00 c/mt
12 bolsas
 80.00 c/u
2 bolsas
95.00 c/u
Mano de Obra

(US $1680.00)


1 Microscopio Olimpos o Nikon
1 Centrifuga
1 Micro centrífuga
1 Espectrofometro
1 Rotador
1 Encubadora
1 Gradilla
1 Autoclave
1 Horno para secador de material
1 doppler para escuchar los latidos del corazón  del bebe