Volunteer Review Samuel Hernandez in Honduras La Ceiba at the PreMedical program

1.-How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The ABV support and coordination in La Ceiba was really good, especially considering that the coordinator, Rafael Linares, handles all of the local logistics for all of the volunteers. There were no major delays; we had good access to the institutions.

2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
At the program: The most surprising thing about the program is the amount of access we enjoyed to the facilities. My expectations, as far as what I was able to observe and assist with, were certainly met and exceeded. I was also very surprised by the fact that most of the volunteers aren’t actually functional in Spanish.

At the accommodation: The accommodation was very comfortable for me as a person who comes from a latin-hispanic community in the US. The food was familiar and the housing was pretty similar to what I grew up with. The most surprising thing there was the pet parrot, Lori, who I became friends with.

About the country: There seems to be an overwhelming sense among Hondurans that things are the way they are because of the people, that they don’t value education enough, don’t try hard enough to get ahead, etc. I wasn’t expecting to hear that sentiment, but I often did, especially in the capitol.

3- What was most difficult to experience?
At the program: The most difficult part of the pre-med experience is the different standards of sanitation. Things are very clean in the OR, but the ER and the clinic are pretty non sanitary. For example, there are not always gloves available to get through the shift, and there isn’t running water for hand washing at the clinic. It is not that the standards aren’t there, but the resources needed to meet them are not present. Bring gallon of water for you to wash hands and boxes of gloves.
The other difficult thing to is that in La Ceiba, the public hospital ER does not currently have a dedicated emergency physician, instead, the ER is staffed by medical students, and sometimes they are thrust into situations that are perhaps beyond their experience and training level without much support.
At the accommodation: The accommodation was great, no difficulties.
The country:  The country is beautiful, as are the people. No difficulties.

4- Any tips for future volunteers…
Clothing: Laundry. Doing laundry will eat up about half a day, so bring enough to get through a week. 8 scrubs should do it. FLIP FLOPS! Going barefoot is not customary here and you will definitely want to take your shoes off after work.
Donations:  It is impossible to know what supplies will be most helpful before coming, so its best to bring credit and buy supplies locally. Expect to have problems withdrawing cash.
You'll almost certainly go through a few boxes of disposable gloves, so that is a safe thing to bring, also gauze 4x4s, roll gauze, medical tape.
Weather: The weather is warm and humid!

4.1-Other things volunteers should know:
Hondurans don’t have premed as we know it in the states. Most people will assume you're a medical student. It will be up to you to be clear about what you can and can't do.
The public medical system here is basically broken. The problems are organizational, institutional, political. You're not going to fix them.
Many of the doctors at the hospital know some English and are listening to you. You should ask questions even if you don{t know Spanish, and they may answer you in English.
Paper does not get flushed in Honduras, anywhere.

5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial), don’t leave blank:
The pre-med program organized by A Broader View in La Ceiba Honduras excellent overall. I have seen a lot these last two weeks and I am coming out of it with a much better sense of what the doctor lifestyle is really like- the very long shifts, the nights, the aching back and feet… but also good things like the community that develops among the medical staff, the sense of service. I have also learned about the challenges of running a program like this. My career goal is to do international medicine, to travel around to places where there is need, to deliver services and supplies.
It is a really amazing opportunity to get the clinical volunteer experience that is so critical for our medical school applications.

6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals and security:
The accommodations were really sweet, my hosts wee very nice. There is no hot water in La Ceiba, but the cold water is not very cold and the weather is hot. The neighborhood is good and lit. You probably should avoid walking alone after dark if you are person who stands out a lot.
The food at my host family was homemade typical Honduran and very good.

7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Program: Witnessing childbirth.
Country:  All of the amazing people, the taxi drivers, cooks, nurses, and the patients. So many stories.

8.- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
Communication (Phone/emails/Online chat):  My trip was very last minute, and ABVs USA support was very quick and responsive. They helped guide me through the process very quickly.
Website Information: The website is a great source of general information and the chat feature is really key to getting questions answered quickly.

9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes!

10 – Can you tell us how did you find or know about A Broader View?  
Google!
 

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