Greetings from Don and Maryjane Westra, Global Ministries Mission Personnel in Honduras.
Our tenure with Global Ministries began in 2009 in Mt. Selinda Mission Station, Zimbabwe. In 2013 we moved to Honduras where we now serve with Global Ministries’ partner, the Evangelical and Reformed Church. We work in the social service branch of the church Synod, the Association of Evangelical Institutions of Honduras (AIEH), which oversees schools and clinics. Specifically, we are assigned to a vocational school, the Center for Vocational Education and Evangelical Reformed (CEVER), in Yoro, Honduras. I work alongside the administration and Don is working on sustainable projects to provide financial security into the future.
Our most exciting assignment is the reopening of a clinic in an indigenous community. The clinic was started by a long term missionary, Dr. Joyce Baker. Dr. Baker, in her 30 years of service with Global Ministries, in partnership with Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras, founded four clinics serving remote villages. The clinic received support from The Congregational Church of Greenwich, Connecticut and plaques commemorating their work are on display in the clinic. In recent years, with the change in government in Honduras, funding for the clinics has disappeared and four years ago the doors were closed. Luckily, the building in Subirana has a caretaker and is in good condition.
The clinic in Subirana serves a catchment area of 35 small communities and about 36,000 people; people who currently have no medical care available to them. No maternity care, no well-baby checks, no vaccinations. If someone is desperately ill, he or she travels by bus one hour to the government hospital in Yoro. The bus only runs two times a day. In an emergency they contact a taxi or private car to take them to Yoro. They are charged 3,000 lempira, around $150. Maternity cases are the most common type of emergency.
The government hospital is overcrowded and has no medicines available. People buy medicine from the pharmacy, costing a months’ wages or more, for the ones lucky enough to have a job.
My own experience with the government hospital this week was taking a student who had dropped a block of wood on his foot in the woodworking class. He was bleeding and in pain, but we were sent away because the emergency room was over crowded. The boy hopped back to my car, where we transported him, still bleeding, to a private clinic. We located his father, who was working far up in the mountains, who paid $90 for an X-ray, stitches and removal of his toe nail. This cost would have been impossible for most people and the boy would have gone without medical care.
Currently AIEH is doing a needs assessment of the community and securing the support of local government officials to reopen the church sponsored clinic. The plan is to secure a government contract to employ a nurse or nurse practitioner to run the clinic and recruit local and international medical and dental brigades. The challenges are (1) to locate beds, exam tables and other medical equipment that were put in storage when the clinic closed, (2) find a way to have the $6,000 electric bill forgiven so the clinic can get electric service; (3) locate a reliable source of medications; and (4) entice medical teams to rural Honduras.
We appreciate your prayers as we enter into this new place of service. We hope to stretch our arms and our willingness to serve here in Honduras the same way Dr. Baker, John Hartley and others did previously. We are very sure that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses,” enough to carry out to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Hebrew 12:1). What is important is the challenge that we have ahead of us. And we affirm that if God was with Joyce Baker and with John Hartley, God will be with us along our way too.
Yours in Christ,
Don and Maryjane Westra serve in Honduras assigned to the Christian Commission for Development (CCD). Don's appointment is supported by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing. Both Don's and Maryjane's appointments are made possibly by your gifts to Disciple's Mission Fund, Our Church's Wider Mission and your special gifts.