International Mission in the Diocese of Western Louisiana
International Mission work in the Diocese of Western Louisiana has been carried out on two fronts: in the Dominican Republic through a companion diocese relationship, and in Honduras through ACTS: Honduras.
Work in our companion diocese, the Diocese of the Dominican Republic
The Lord has truly blessed the companion relationship that the Diocese of Western Louisiana has with the Diocese of the Dominican Republic.
The centerpiece of the work has been medical/dental and construction teams that traveled to the Dominican Republic each summer since 1999 to work in the slums of Barahona, a sugarcane processing city.
In this impoverished area, where no medical help is available, the medical/dental teams have treated thousands of men, women and children and dispensed almost 10,000 prescriptions.
Our construction teams built homes, outhouses and worked on the construction of a church for the neighborhood in which they were working.
Apostles Called to Serve (ACTS) Honduras
Apostles Called to Serve in Honduras is a non-profit that promotes sustainable programs for health, education and development in collaboration with rural Honduran communities. Using innovative approaches combined with hands-on care, ACTS volunteers are enabling Hondurans to help themselves.
The following account details the work of one Mission Team from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana.
ACTS: Honduras completes its tenth mission
by Georgia West
It is always difficult to write this article. How do you put into words a heart overflowing? Coffee picked just days ago, cooing doves, squealing children are but a few memories of early morn. Days filled with hard work, warm smiles and great big hugs.
As we travel up the mountains, piled into the beds of pick-up trucks, we marvel as the mist shrouds the valley and occasionally treats us to a rainbow. Birds of paradise line the rutted road as do our black-eyed-susans at home. We reach our work sites, a one-room church or school without electricity and set to work.
Five-gallon buckets hold all our supplies so the conversion from school to clinics and pharmacy takes but minutes.
Some days the eager patients have arrived early and the line wraps around the building–always a daunting sight for new members who realize we really will see 300 patients today!
After a quick history with the nurse the patients wait to be seen by one of our three doctors. The doctors see their patients while perched on a student's chair and patients, often along with several children, occupy a short bench opposite them. It is certainly a startling change for most doctors–no lab, no x-ray and certainly no preauthorization from the PPO!
Many patients have respiratory problems as they cook indoors over green wood fires. Others have skin ailments or need something to soothe their aches and pains after working in the coffee fields all day, equipped only with a bucket, a machete and their hands.
And everyone wants vitamins, parasite medications and a toothbrush. The pharmacy is their next stop. The pharmacy will fill nearly 4,000 prescriptions over the four days of clinic. No one leaves without receiving instructions on how to take their medication.
On the other side of the building, or even outdoors, is the eyeglass clinic. The eye clinic is at times a magical place where you have the joy of seeing someone's face when they can see clearly for the first time. Unlike most gringos, Hondurans are primarily farsighted, meaning they often need nothing more than simple readers to correct their vision. Who knew that a dollar store pair of readers could keep the shoemaker in business? Other patients are fitted with prescription lenses donated by the Louisiana Lions Foundation. Everyone will leave with a pair of sunglasses and soothing eye drops to protect them from early development of cataracts and pterygiums.
As the week comes to an end our Honduras friends humbles us with a fiesta. I don't think they ever believe us when we tell them how much more we've received than given. So we just have to return next year and try again.
ACTS: Honduras is supported solely by team members and the generosity of parishioners in our diocese.