By Paul Martin, Ph.D.
Editor’s Note: OC Board Members volunteer their time with OC work, but their volunteer outreach goes much farther than our organization. Among the many examples, OC wanted to share a brief article about the international work of building up the commonwealth for small communities that Paul Martin does in Central America nations such as Nicaragua and Honduras.
I have been doing some volunteering in Honduras in recent years with an Episcopalian team offering veterinary services, which works with many other organizers and workers of a local cooperative (the Coffee/Vegetable Production/Processing/Marketing Cooperative, COHORSIL). Our overall team of 25 from the U.S. flew into San Pedro Sula, Honduras in the middle of May 2015, and then traveled via bus to the modest Hotel Zari in Siguatepeque. We spent some of the first and second days preparing and organizing supplies and equipment for vaccinating and doctoring small and large animals the next four days. During this year’s May 16-22 trip, we treated 5,862 animals.
After loading our vaccines, parasiticides, and other supplies and equipment at COHORSIL in the mornings, four teams each travel separately on the backs of trucks into villages in the mountains surrounding Siguatepeque. On arrival at the specified village for the day, as a member of one typical team, and as spokesperson, I typically facilitated introductions of our team and key local organizers, express appreciation for the opportunity to work with these wonderful Honduran campesinos, provide soccer balls and frisbees for the youth to play with while we work, and emphasize the need for caution, teamwork and safety. Then the team splits into two sub-teams and begins to treat small (cats, dogs, poultry/birds, perhaps swine and sheep and goats) and large (cattle, equine, perhaps swine, etc.) animals.
In addition to work by the four teams in four villages each of the four days (i.e., 16 populations are touched by our efforts), Dr. Campaigne also led a separate teaching team which trained community leaders in veterinarian techniques and skills for areas relatively void of veterinarians. Moreover this team provides the villages visited with a wonderful resource book, Donde No Hay Doctor para Animales. As usual, there were times when some of the rangy cattle and horses (oftentimes tick-ridden; however, the burros and mules are generally clean!) were somewhat difficult to handle, and in spite of my introductory sermons, I did get a few nicks and bruises, and was kicked in the head as I milked a cow to show off in front of some of the young Honduran kids. But all in all it was an absolutely safe and wonderful trip with great food and lovely relationships built with young and old.