Franklin Countys First News

Maine team returns from medical mission to Honduras

Craigen Healy reads to children on the porch of the Subirana clinic.

By Anne Smith

SUBIRANA, Honduras - A team from Maine is just back from a successful week-long medical mission to Subirana, Honduras, organized by the Maine UCC Honduras Partnership.

The small town is about three hours from the city of San Pedro Sula, far up a winding road, past banana plantations and sugar cane fields. The clinic was built by the First Congregational Church of Greenwich in 1990 and subsequently staffed by Dr. Joyce Baker and Dr. Reniery Espana but has been out of commission for many years apart from a few medical mission groups or “brigades."

Once the hard work of restoring plumbing and electricity, cleaning the building and unpacking all the medical supplies was completed, the week began in earnest. 268 patients were seen in total – many had walked for hours to get to the clinic and there was always a line at the gate in the morning of people waiting to get in and sit in the porch. They really gave a new meaning to the word “patient” – never complaining, always laughing and smiling. And even those who went away without a prescription would come up to you and hug you and thank you. They are delightful people. Apart from one shotgun wound, most of the complaints related to gastric issues, pains of various kinds, or coughs and colds, and there was not a single case of diabetes, presumably because their diet is very healthy – beans, rice and all the local fruits – papayas, mangoes, pineapples and bananas.

We were extremely fortunate in having three wonderful young Honduran interpreters with us – Fares and Lucia who are high school students in San Pedro, and Erica, who is just about to graduate from college. Erica registered the patients as they arrived, Fares interpreted for Bety Flores, the Honduran nurse taking the histories, and Lucia spent the day interpreting for the doctor, Christopher Smith, and keeping him on the right cultural track. Since she is hoping to become a doctor herself it was a valuable experience.

The team, Craigen and Bob Healy, Amy and Dan Palmer, Christopher and Anne Smith, and Steve Meyerhans, were partnered with the local team of nurses Bety Flores, Iris Guerrero and Johanna, and wonderful Alexander Zeron who worked tirelessly on plumbing and other manual matters. Bob and Dan, Alexander and Steve built shelves, mixed concrete, and mended a barbed wire fence to stop all the wandering cows and horses from taking up residence in the clinic. Hard and demanding work. Amy, Anne and Steve manned the pharmacy, and Craigen read stories to entertain the patients and guarded the doctor’s office in one of the more remote clinics where youngsters were tapping on the window and peering through holes in the door! From the Honduran side, the trip was organized by Pastor Juan Bustillo and his wife Zhandra of the Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras who generously opened their home to us for the entire week and provided us with delicious meals, lots of good advice and their wonderful friendship.

This population has so little and the local health center is very limited in its supply of medicines, yet they are so uncomplaining, it’s quite staggering. We would like to continue to make a difference for them and continue to operate the clinic on a more regular basis.

Most of the prescription drugs which we took down were provided to us at a very modest price by Blessings International of Oklahoma and we would like to thank them very much for their generosity. Mt. Blue Pharmacy of Farmington was also extremely helpful in supplying us with what was needed. Partners for World Health in South Portland also helped greatly with medical supplies.

Eyeglasses and toothbrushes proved to be the big hit of the week – many people were delighted to find a pair of non-prescription glasses that suited them. And each child went away with a huge smile on their face when they were given a toothbrush. A lot of people said they wished a dentist would come – any dentists out there wanting to give it a try? You won’t regret it.

If you would like to be involved in this great partnership please get in touch with us – you could be a nurse, doctor, dentist, carpenter, plumber, teacher or student, or none of the above. And there is no need to be a member of the United Church of Christ to be part of this great venture. Any and all welcome! Email Steven Meyerhans at

Children peer through the pharmacy window.

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4 Responses »

  1. Thanks go out to all the generous people that took the time out of their very busy lives to make this trip to Honduras.

  2. Craigen is an angel! Blesses everyone she comes in contact with!

  3. They give not only to the Hondurans, but also to us by reminding us that there are truly loving, giving people in thie world.

  4. Great news bless you all for touching so many lives! Will you have a presentation time open to the community about this trip? In Grace and Peace, Pat Starbird