Now that I am back at my flat in Edinburgh, the past 9 days seems like it was all a dream. It felt so strange being woken up by the sound of Facebook notifications on my phone, going to the kitchen tap to fill a glass of water to drink, and feeling a little empty inside, like waking up from a good dream. And I know that no matter how well I tell the story, they wouldn’t fully understand how amazing it was unless they experienced it for themselves.
Despite my initial worry of going to a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world and prevalence of Zika virus cases, I am very glad that I made the decision to go on this trip. The medical brigade to Honduras opened my eyes to a life that is so different to mine that I would not even have had the capacity to imagine. One girl with a cavity was refused a teeth extraction surgery because the fact that she had to take a two and a half hour walk home meant that the operation was too risky in case there was bleeding after. The fact that she had walked such a long way to the mobile clinic shows just how inaccessible and unavailable medical care is to the people living in these villages. Through discussing with the staff the importance of the education section of the medical brigade, I became aware that it is not the pills for treatment that is going to help them – it is the knowledge that is passed on from these ‘charlas’, which can cause a small change that will improve their health. One of the most upsetting moments was when a diabetic lady who had come in a wheelchair told the doctor that she did not have insulin because the hospital had run out of it. The doctor told her how she can alleviate her symptoms by making appropriate lifestyle changes – which was difficult to hear, knowing that insulin is essential for the survival of these patients. These people made me realise how fortunate we are to have an NHS hospital within a bus ride away. Such cases also made me aware of the underlying political issues that has led to the lack of distribution of healthcare in such communities, which pose a limitation to how much external organisations can help. But there are still countless ways that we can help these communities, and it was a very valuable experience to be involved in this brigade.
The fact that it feels so strange to be back in this lifestyle again shows how much of an impact my short stay in Honduras had on me. The people in Honduras taught me that those who do not have anything can have the heart to give so much love to those who have everything, which was humbling and inspiring. It was truly an eye opening experience that I will always treasure.