Volunteer Name: Erik Pihl
Project Location: La Ceiba Honduras
Program Dates: 7/22 – 8/5, 2015
Volunteered at: Clinic/Hospital
1.-How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The in country support provided by the ABV Coordinator and other staff far surpassed what I had imagined. The ABV coordinator was present to pick me up right when I arrived in country and provided support for all my needs throughout my stay. One of the most outstanding parts of the program is the support for weekend adventures. Having a local guide who became a good friend over my stay allowed for a deep experience of the culture of Honduras.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
At the program: The most surprising thing I experienced at the program was the lack of medical supplies in both the clinic and the hospital (poor health care system in Honduras). In the ER and the clinic patients were expected to bring in their own medical supplies for treatment of their wounds and casting of broken bones.
At the accommodation: The most surprising thing experience at the accommodation was the absence of electricity during the day (4 hours a day, it's an issue with the electric company and the government). The accommodations were very clean and comfortable, which is why losing electricity daily surprised me.
About the country: The country of Honduras is beautiful and the people are amazing. What surprised me however was how westernized different areas of the city were. Just a short walk away from my accommodations was a nice mall and more surprisingly fast food restaurants.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
At the program: The most difficult part of the program for me was also what has made it one of my most treasured experiences. The program puts you in the middle of the medical action and you are given the opportunity to gain valuable experience you would never gain anywhere else. Different personalities my take different approaches to this pressure, and I would encourage any volunteer to embrace that chance to clean wounds, stitch up injuries, and cast broken bones. The amount of medical experience you will gain is the most valuable aspect of the experience.
At the accommodation: I found the accommodations in which I stayed to be great. If I were to pick out one thing that I would say was difficult however, it would be how hot the house can remain at night. At times I had trouble sleeping, but with help of a fan I was able to sleep comfortably after getting used to the heat.
The country: What I found difficult about the country was the heat. I loved Honduras and expected the language barrier to be more difficult. Between other volunteers and the ABV staff I never felt that the language barrier lessened my experience. Being from Alaska, I just couldn’t stand the heat.
4- Any tips for future volunteers…
Clothing: Bring the lightest clothing possible. DO NOT underestimate the humidity and how sweaty you may get everyday. Working in the clinic when the power goes out is a challenge, as it slowly becomes a sauna. Try to bring as many pairs of scrubs as you can because you will need a clean pair for the hospital.
Donations: Ask medical clinics, doctor’s offices, and any medical professionals for donations prior to arriving. During your experience you will see how far simple items such as gauze will help every patients.
Weather: IT IS HOT and HUMID in July. The weather is perfect for swimming and adventures on the weekend. If it really rains try to stay out of the water in the street as I learned it contains backed up sewer water.
4.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a.- Pack extra scrubs and bring the lightest clothing possible.
b.- Don’t be afraid to just jump into the medical aspect of the program in order to
c.- Eat a lot of Balliadas, they are simply amazing
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial), don’t leave blank:
My A broader view experience has been one the best experiences of my life. It far surpassed my expectations and the medical experience I was hoping to get. The medical exposure I gained in a few short weeks included diabetic ulcers, catheters, removing stitches, stitching wounds, and even casting compound fractures. While I worked hard in the clinic and hospital the program and the ABV staff provided great access and amazing guides to broaden your experience of Honduras on the weekends. I loved my time as a volunteer and was not ready to leave after two weeks.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals and security:
The accommodations were clean and comfortable. It was great to have a large patio in which all the volunteers would gather to chat or relax after a long day. The food was great, but the diet is very different from what I was used too. Expect a lot of carbs with each meal. The security of the accommodations was one of the biggest surprises. I never once felt unsafe, and always new that my belongings etc. where safe at the house.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Program: Was stitching up a machete wound in the Emergency Room. I found it exhilarating and it further inspired my pursuit of medicine. I would have never been able to gain an experience like this in the United States and for that I am very thankful to the ABV staff and the program.
Country: Honduras is beautiful and the people are amazing. My favorite memory of the trip was spending a simple day at Rio Maria, cliff jumping, sliding down waterfalls, swimming and drinking rum with the other volunteers. The program creates great friendships and allows you to enjoy your weekends having adventures with your new friends.
8.- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
The pre travel email included everything I needed to know and every aspect of my trip ran perfectly.
Website Information: The website provided all the information I needed and I never had to email or call once!
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
10 – Can you tell us how did you find or know about A Broader View?
I found A Broader View online through an extensive search for medical volunteer programs. A Broader View provided the experience I was looking for and at a great price compared to other programs that I had found. I would recommend A Broader View to anyone who would like to spend time serving a international community and gaining experience for their future.