Photos: The colorful picture is of my corn children, which I bought from a couple of kids selling them from restaurant to restaurant. The top right picture is of some of the clinic employees, all but two of whom are university students as well! The bottom right picture is of me and Dr. Santos (left), the retina specialist, and Doctor Ochoa (right), another ophthalmologist in the clinic.
Just a week remains of my 2-month stay in Honduras, conducting the Honduras Eye Disease Study at the Centro de Salud Integral ZOE eye clinic in Tegucigalpa. In this time, I have learned so, so much from this experience and made many new friends in this beautiful country. Honduras may be a poor country financially, but I’ve found that it holds a wealth of compassion and strength within the individuals, families, and communities living here.
Today, Friday, the clinic closed early for fumigation; up to that point, we had 20 patients come for an ophthalmology consult, with 1 of them dilated. It was a slow day, but it gave me the chance to talk with the study doctor, Dr. Santos, about his observations of eye health trends in Honduras. One thing that really stood out to him (and me as I conducted the study) was the number of cases of toxoplasmosis–a disease caused by a parasite that is typically transmitted through uncooked/poorly washed foods and through exposure to infected cats. Though usually a problem for pregnant women and their unborn babies, we have been seeing young adults coming into the clinic with this disease as well, most of them in university! This was surprising for me because if these students are obtaining a higher education in this big city, I would have thought that proper hygiene would be easier to come by–but then again I am not fully aware of their entire living situation.
A lot of the technicians and employees of the clinic are actually university students as well, I discovered. They work full time during the week, and either take weekend classes or nighttime classes at their universities, each pursuing degrees ranging from Foreign Language (English) to Systems Engineering to Psychology. I would love to visit one of the universities here in Honduras–there are around 30 in the country, and 2 in Tegucigalpa–and sit in some classes. Too bad next week is packed with a 3-day outreach brigade trip to San Marcos followed by my flight back to Los Angeles! Ay, que triste!
Well, time to make the most of my last few days in Honduras! Hasta luego, amigos–