We had opportunity last week to host a site visit from US surgeons, looking for areas where they can serve. Darwin set up appointments at the two public hospitals here to see what possibilities there would be to have them help.
The interviews we had in both hospitals were quite enlightening. I have some experience going into both to visit with groups, but nothing on this level of administrative sides of things, and to learn more of the needs, as well as the goals and how the hospitals work.
I learned that Hospital Escuela, the main public hospital for the entire country, has 13,000 beds in the hospital. (Darwin has routinely told me that every day there are 20,000 patients between inpatient and outpatient...knowing how many beds there are helped me believe that seemingly inflated number.)
I also learned that the general surgeries going on at San Felipe across town were not being done because that was part of the hospital's mission. It was odd to hear to start the meeting the five areas of focus for the hospital...especially when general surgery was not one of those areas. Turns out, the only reason the hospital does general surgery is because of the overwhelming need in the population that Hospital Escuela cannot handle. Even then...just one of the doctors we met with, to show just how big the need was, told us he had more than 400 patients on his waiting list.
Here is where you can pray...in general for a system here that has good doctors and administrators fighting to give the population here the care it needs. It is a different kind of battle, very complex, and sometimes on many fronts...with finances, circumstances, other administrators, etc.
You can also pray because after seeing the installations there, and the installations we have at the clinic, the surgeons decided that the best place where they could help and do that to honor Christ would be with us in the clinic. There is nothing definite at this point, just a decision to pray, and for us to budget how much a surgical wing would cost, and see where God takes it from there. Surgery has been an area for the clinic (possibly future hospital?) that has been a dream a long time coming. Many years in fact. Somewhat patiently, we wait. Right now that seems much closer...but again I warn us (read: myself), that while we plan, work and pray, that for the most part this is very much up in the air. Just pray that God's will would be done...and that it would be clear and present to us who routinely need refreshers on that.
This past Saturday I got to make the trip up to the coffee farm above Sampedrana. We had a very special visitor in Patty Fancher from CIY, and given that many a CIY group in the past several years has spent several days up on the farm and at the Church, it seemed a great thing to get to show her what is going on, especially for future possible groups (as in...the CIY group upcoming in June), and also a good time for us to test the road to the farm out again with a Ford to see how it is faring and where some repair/maintenance might be needed as the rainy season approaches.
We got quite a few new pictures to show the progress on the farm, and a few videos (processing still a video of the entire drive from Comayagua to post...somewhere) but they really do fail to capture the beauty, the impressive slopes of the property/area, and the huffing and puffing inducing altitude when combined with the previously mentioned slopes. The sky seems clearer, the breeze more steady and occasionally gusting, and from an administrative standpoint...the needs for further improvements and development staggering.
Just as staggering is the progress already made. We struggled for a few years getting things off the ground, but this past year has been very good, and we expect another almost two acres to be planted with coffee this year. We are almost at 50% planted as we stand. We still need this year to also build a bunkhouse for when harvest comes for where workers can stay, that will be a big project yet to come.
Seen here is the farm, at least in the part you can see from the road we built leading to it...there is more on the other side of the ridge. The small puffy trees on the right near the middle of the picture are our avocado trees. The line that goes up and to the left, to the right of the avocado trees marks a cleared line, but the property line goes further up the mountain from there. To the left of the avocado trees are coffee trees.
You might be asking yourself...how much property is there? Well, that is a good question. The exact answer is unknown really, as we have not had anything that could be called an exact measurement. I have not even been able yet to get to the top of the property myself. But the nearest that has been figured is about 20 acres. And we have roughly half planted with coffee, somewhere around 32,000 trees, with another 6,000 to be planted in the coming year.
You might also be asking yourselves...how bad is the road? Well, although rain has visited Tegucigalpa several times in the last week, it has not reached Sampedrana yet, so it was in very good shape. There are a couple places that need widening a bit, and a couple where the underground tiles need concrete poured to set them more firmly in place.
On our way back down the hill, we stopped to talk at the Church before heading home. We were talking about how we can better help Alfonso financially on a regular basis (also looking at getting his daughter a scholarship somehow from the US to be able to go to High School...which in addition to requiring money, would require her to relocate down the hill with extended family) and how we would like to see more avocados and raspberries (already growing wild...we picked two pounds just while chatting) and other fruit trees on the property to not only have the property providing employment but also food we can sell and give away to the workers, Church, and others in the community.
I noticed quite the pile of wood, and someone cutting wood in the back of the property. I asked Henry about this. The woman cutting the wood has her common law husband in jail, and four daughters to feed. Why her husband is in jail is a very sad and tragic story. He has not been sentenced yet (that takes a while) but likely will not be out soon given the circumstances. Their family has been helping them where they can, but Henry was wanting to help more. So they are getting oak wood to put into the smoker (home made, seen in the background) and make charcoal to sell. That is a lot of wood. Apparently you strip the outside bark off so that in the fire, it turns to charcoal and does not instead just burn up.
We were hoping to test a new option for transportation to and from the farm, a modified moto taxi. Unfortunately it was not ready for the trip, but as we progress, finding better transportation to replace the motorcycle will also be a priority. Going up and down that mountain for five years has taken a toll...and constant repairs are not exactly easy up there. Life though is not easy up there in many ways. But wow, it is beautiful.