Catholic Mission Honduras
On Tuesday, January 16, 2007, sixteen health
care professionals from four states left the U.S. bound for Tegucigalpa,
Honduras, and the next in a series of medical / dental mission trips into
Honduras sponsored by Gehlen Catholic Schools. As always the team’s base
location was El Guante, Honduras, and the parish center of San Rafael. Richard
Seivert, director of the program, would join the team the last few days. (Click
here to go directly to the
There can be hope
only for a society which acts as one big family, not as many separate
Medical Team Roster
This year's medical
brigade was composed of: Francis Seivert, Team Leader, Elkton, SD; Dr. Carlos
Delgado, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Dr. David Goo, Emory University,
Atlanta, GA; Dr. Gary Carlton, Mercy Medical Center, Sioux City, IA; Dr. Jessica
Doyle, Augusta, GA; Warren Steinbrueck, Pharmacist, Le Mars, IA; Tom Ryan,
Pharmacist, Le Mars, IA; Dan Wernimont, Dentist, Pocahontas, IA; Luce, Dentist,
El Guante, Honduras; Susan Doyle, Nurse-Midwife, Atlanta, GA; Diana
Betsworth-Rann, Nurse, Merrill, IA; Leah Wernimont, Nurse-Dental Assistant,
Pocahontas, IA; Darlene Ostrowski, Nurse, Hutchinson, MN; Natasha Wernimont,
Nurse, Lincoln, NE; Lizzie Ryan, Pharmacy Assistant, Le Mars, IA; Sister Juanita
Polak, Interpreter, Omaha, NE; Julio Rivera, Interpreter, Atlanta, GA; Sister
Fatima Carcamo, Interpreter, El Progresso, Yoro, Honduras; Fausto,
Interpreter/Driver, El Guante, Honduras; Angel, Health Promoter/Driver, El
Guante, Honduras; David Castro, Program Assistant, El Guante, Honduras; Tacha
Alvarado, Program Assistant, Esquias, Honduras; Dona Dilcia, Cook, El Guante,
Honduras; Dona Dulce, Cook, Sulaco, Honduras; Dona Amelia, Laundry, El Guante,
Honduras; Julio Martinez, Driver/Guide, Montana de la Flor, Honduras; and
Richard Seivert, Program Director, Gehlen Catholic High School, Le Mars, IA.
Where there is great love,
there are always miracles.
~ Willa Cather
For Information On
Future Trips Please Contact:
Gehlen Catholic High School
709 Plymouth Street N.E.
Le Mars, Iowa 51031
Each year Gehlen Catholic High School, Le
Mars, Iowa, sponsors this medical mission to the ‘Hurricane Mitch’ ravaged areas
of central Honduras. It is eight plus years since Hurricane Mitch literally
destroyed the small country of Honduras and much of the country’s
infrastructure. It is still in great disrepair and health care is minimal at
best in many of the outlying areas. The program from Gehlen has successfully
sent six straight medical teams during each January of the past six years.
I have the
strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.
~ Philippians 4:13
Delgado commented, “Nowhere else have I seen a group of missioners quickly bond
and work hard together during a whole week with the common goal of caring for
the Honduran poor.”
Along with the high school and university
teams that go each year, Gehlen Catholic has placed 321 missioners on the ground
in the third poorest country in the western hemisphere. This coming Easter 2007,
the total goes to 346 when Gehlen sends 19 students and 6 adult chaperones to
Honduras for the seventh straight high school team.
Honduras, the medical team traveled north by bus to our base location in El
Guante. The team kept busy the first night in Honduras with packing medicines
and equipment for the next day's long journey to Montana de la Flor (The Flower
Mountains) in the northeast corner of the district of Francisco Morazon.
From El Guante the trip to MDLF takes about 4.5 hours on treacherous mountain
roads, crossing rivers six times. Living in the Montana de la Flor is the
oldest ethnic group known in Honduras, the Tolupan. This group of indigenous
people has lived in that area of Honduras for hundreds of years. Their language,
Tolupan, is over five thousand years old and is directly related to the
southernmost Sioux Native Americans, the Hokan Sioux. The Tolupan of Montana de
la Flor are one of the poorest and most remote peoples living in Honduras today.
To get medical care they would have to walk many hours to a clinic on the other
side of the mountain. From where we set up our base camp in the MDLF, it still
can take some of the Tolupan, who live much higher in the mountains, hours of
walking to get to clinic.
Wherever there is
a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.
Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to
do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life
is not in vain.
~ Helen Keller
Ryan commented, “It’s not essential to speak the same language as those you
help. My dad can only pronounce some words in Spanish. But, my dad, like
most, can understand a laugh or a smile, and there were plenty of laughs and
smiles on our trip to Honduras.”
The past few years have found the medical /
dental teams sent by Gehlen going to Montana de la Flor, and the Tolupan people,
where medical / dental care is almost non-existent. The Gehlen program has
worked hard at building a relationship with this very special and wonderful
group so as to bring health care to them at least once a year. Because our focus
in Honduras has started to shift primarily to the Tolupan, the medical team this
year spent the first five days and four nights in the mountain.
Delgado commented, “It was wonderful to see the Tolupan people recognize us
during this, our third visit to Montana de la Flor, and greet us with a big
During those five days our team treated 655
Tolupan (also called Xicaque). Our patients were 45% children age 5 and under
and 60% female.
that is faced can be changed,
but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
~ James Baldwin
Some of the major illnesses / diseases our
team treated were: a great deal of malnutrition, malaria, dengue fever,
chagas disease, diarrhea, parasites, funguses, hypertension, diabetes, asthma and pneumonia,
other pulmonary problems requiring nebulizer treatments, urinary and vaginal
problems, many infections, fevers, skin diseases (head, body, feet), a great
deal of tuberculosis (in and out of treatment), scabies, lice, many pregnant
women with no prenatal care, many lacerations and wounds from machete injuries,
ear problems, total body pain, otitis media, strep throat, and a great many eye
problems due primarily to burning wood in the homes. We performed a good many
ultrasounds right in the field and consulted with every known pregnancy about
health issues. Our two dentists saw 121 patients and extracted 275 teeth while
in the mountains. Our nurses checked blood pressure on all patients, temps on
some, and gave shots when necessary.
On coming into clinic each patient first
receives piperazine and mebendazole, followed by an examination by our nurses.
Throughout each day we will triage those who are the sickest to the front of the
line – to be seen by one of our doctors as fast as possible. Each patient that
comes to clinic, along with receiving their prescribed medicines, also receives
soap, shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and vitamins to take with them.
Seivert, director of Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras, commented,
“This year’s trip was incredible. To a non-health
care professional like myself, I am always amazed to see these doctors,
dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and translators work in the conditions they do.
It is a great testament to them to give of their time, talent, and treasure to
bring health care to a very poor people. I know they will never forget their
Seivert also gave praise to the many wonderful
friends in Honduras that help carry out this trip each year.
After five days in the Montana de la Flor our
medical / dental team returned to our base location in El Guante and prepared to
extend our mission to two more rural villages, each closer to El Guante. Day
number six found our team in Majada Verde where the medical team treated 325
patients and our dental team 42. Throughout the seven working days of our clinic
our two dentists extracted 403 teeth, did ten fillings, and saw numerous other
oral hygiene problems. Our last and final clinic was in the village of El
Espino/Jiniapa. It was scheduled for only half a day, and our medical team saw
149 patients while the dentists saw 25.
During the trip to Montana de la Flor our
pharmacists filled 1,965 prescriptions in the five days of clinic. In the one
day in Majada Verde they filled 975 prescriptions, and on the last day in El
Espino / Jiniapa they filled 447. In total our pharmacists filled 3,387
prescriptions during the seven days of our clinics.
Along with the Gehlen program, a
not-for-profit foundation was established years ago to carry out aid to the
people in and around El Guante, Honduras. To date, Mission Honduras LeMars has
done many wonderful things - from clinic construction, food programs, medicine
programs, and water projects. The organization continues to raise money for the
benefit of these wonderful people. For more information on MHL, click this link:
In a typical year, Gehlen Catholic High School
obtains free medicine from four different humanitarian agencies to be used
during international medical mission trips like this. This year we were able to
get most of our medicine from MAP International, Brunswick, Georgia, and
purchase the rest from Dutch Mill Pharmacy, Orange City, Iowa. Much thanks to
MAP and Dutch Mill Pharmacy.
Life is what we make it, always has been,
always will be.
~ Grandma Moses
Francis Seivert, team leader
said, “For one like myself that has been in la Montana de la Flor many times, it
was very special to see so many of the indigenous Xicaque come to the clinics
for health care. For many it was a long and difficult walk. When a Xicaque
woman gives you her young child to hold, you know that she is trusting of you.
My heart was saddened to see so much malnutrition and sickness this year. More
indigenous came for health care this year, which means we are developing a trust
relationship with them. Watching the team adapt to the rugged living and
working conditions makes all the preliminary work, planning and logistics worth
it. Just to have a little two-year-old indigenous child smile as you hold her
is worth all the effort. I cannot wait to go back.”
Planning for this year's mission trip began
last spring. An early decision was made to increase the trip from nine days to
ten and take a day off, as previous missions had done. It was further decided
that this team would almost double their time in Montana de la Flor from three
days to five days with the Xicaque (Tolupan) people. For a more complete
explanation of the Tolupan people go to the internet – you will find many
fascinating things. Also refer to Anne Chapman’s book Masters of Animals.
While our medical team was in the Montana de
la Flor, and much to our surprise and pleasure, author Anne Chapman came for a
visit to the Tolupan people. Many years ago she spent a great deal of time with
the Tolupan as a cultural anthropologist and authored the book Masters of
Animals. A good number of our medical team had their own personal copy of
her book with them in the mountain, and on meeting the famous author, had her
sign their copy. The team got to spend a good deal of time with Anne Chapman,
and she commented how wonderful our program was in bringing health care,
blankets, and food into the mountain.
only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be
~ Meister Eckhart
Please click on
the ‘photo album icon’ below. It will open hundreds of pictures from this year’s
mission trip for you to view.
The theme for
this year’s medical mission was PRAYER. Mother Teresa once said, “If you pray
you will believe, if you believe you will love, if you love you will serve.”
was an INCREDIBLE mission experience. Our lives will never be the same.
you for viewing our website and thanks to all team members for their service
Also, please feel free to contact us at the address
below. We would love to hear from you.
Richard E. Seivert
Gehlen Catholic High School
709 Plymouth Street N.E.
Le Mars, Iowa 51031
Click above to browse the January 2007 Trip Photo Album...