On April 13th, 2003, two days after the Gehlen Mission
Honduras 'student trip' returned from their mission work in Honduras, the
official opening of 'Clinica Asistencial La Caridad' in El Guante, Honduras,
F.M., Central America, occurred, culminating in a two-year project of Gehlen
Catholic Mission Honduras and Mission Honduras LeMars. The previous day, Monday, April
12th, saw dignitaries of all kinds descend on the small village of El Guante
for the official dedication ceremonies. The President of Honduras,
originally scheduled to speak at the opening, was detained at the last
minute and was not able to attend. The Honduran 'Minister of Health,'
however, did share the program with many legislators, doctors, nurses, and
village representatives in a two hour ceremony. Gehlen Mission
Honduras 'Changing Lives,' and Mission Honduras LeMars, were represented by
Sister Valerie Knoche and Sister Barb Zimmer, longtime missionary sisters in Honduras, who spoke of
the good people of Le Mars, Iowa, and how their efforts brought health care
to so many thousands. Representatives of Gehlen Mission Honduras and
Mission Honduras LeMars were invited but were not able to attend.
Clinica Asistencial La
Caridad under construction in 2003
The clinic idea originated in the spring of 2002 during Gehlen's student mission trip that year. By late summer 2002 Gehlen began raising monies for this project. At the same time a group of Le Mars citizens applied for a 'not-for-profit organization status' from the IRS titled 'Mission Honduras LeMars.' Mission Honduras LeMars was granted not-for-profit status in late October 2002. At that time fund raising for the clinic project shifted from Gehlen to the not-for-profit. Until the shift occurred Gehlen had raised about $30,000 for the construction. Once the shift occurred all monies raised thereafter were done so under the name Mission Honduras LeMars. Under Mission Honduras LeMars
the group raised about $70,000
to finish the clinic construction, culminating with its dedication ceremonies on April 12th and its official first day opening on April 13th.
In early 2003 it was learned the village of El Guante, site of the clinic, voted to turn the control of the clinic over to the World Bank. The World Bank (not really a bank as such, but rather a relief agency of the United Nations), wanted control of the clinic to set up a 'model' for other clinics in 3rd world countries. They really wanted to try something new and this
was it. It brought free health care to all those who were not employed, or so poor they
could not afford it. It brought health care to those that had full-time
jobs but made them pay only a few dollars a year for full access to the
clinic. According to World Bank officials the clinic was to become self-supporting
within three years. When the clinic opened on April 13th, it was
staffed by one doctor, two nurses, two office people, and one administrator.
According to Richard Seivert, director of Mission Honduras LeMars, because the village of El Guante
moved ahead with the new clinic, other great things began to happen for these people. For example, the Riecken Foundation, an international group that builds libraries in small rural villages around the world, came to El Guante and constructed a new library for the village. Once construction
was complete, the foundation opened this library with 1,000 books and a few computers. In El Guante, a village that still gets water only twice a week, the library will
eventually have internet capability.
According to Seivert, the blend of reality in their everyday lives and the future is going on every day in El Guante. He said he fully expects other great things to happen for this village and the surrounding area, from small business to improved education. Seivert said
the hope for the future is great. These people who have very little can
teach all of us in the States a great deal.
"The people of Le Mars, the surrounding area, and throughout
the United States, can be proud of the efforts of Mission Honduras LeMars and the things we have done for the poor of Honduras.
The clinic, water projects, the fence around the Riecken Foundation Library,
bringing children with health care problems to the U. S. and specifically Le
Mars, along with numerous other efforts, are only a few of the things with
which we are involved. Many thanks to all the fine people that have
contributed to Mission Honduras LeMars and helped bring health care to the
village of El Guante and the surrounding area. Because of the people
of Le Mars and all those from throughout the country who gave even a dollar
toward the clinic project, the world is a little better place today, and
that is good," Seivert said.
When will our
consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery
rather than avenge it?
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Medical Equipment Donated
Throughout the late fall 2002 Mission Honduras LeMars sought out and obtained the equipment that would go into this new clinic. Most of the equipment obtained for the clinic came from the Alina
Hospital Systems out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They simply donated it to our
group, and International Health Services, also from Minneapolis, was able to
ship it to Honduras for us along with other supplies. We also obtained a portable X-ray unit, donated to us from 'dms' Health Group out of Fargo, North Dakota.
The Sonosite Corporation, Seattle, Washington, donated a portable ultrasound
unit, and Leeds Precisions Instruments, Minneapolis, MN, donated a microscope
for lab work. These items were
shipped to the clinic in the summer of 2003. We also received and continue
to receive tremendous support from Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars, Iowa.
Health for the People
This new clinic located in El Guante, Honduras, brought needed health care to thousands and thousands of rural village people who have little to no medical care. Mission Honduras LeMars promised and raised the funds necessary to build the clinic, and the government of Honduras,
through the Ministry of Health and the World Bank, has staffed it with doctors,
nurses, and support people. Since the clinic was completed, the people of
El Guante formed 'Fundacion La Caridad', a nonprofit organization in Honduras to
continue the good work, with David Castro, chief administrator.
We are each of
us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one
~ Luciano de Crescenzo
El Guante Clinic Viewed As Model
The medical clinic in El Guante, known as
‘Clinica Asistencial La Caridad’, built in 2002 and opened in 2003, is
being looked on by the Honduras government and Ministry of Health of
Honduras, as the model they would like to use in building 36 more new
clinics throughout the country. According to Richard Seivert, director of
Mission Honduras LeMars and Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras (the groups
that provided all the funding for construction), “the government is
interested in using the organizational method used by the community of El
Guante when they construct new clinics in the future.” Seivert said the
original community based organization known as ‘el Patronato’(meaning
community) administered the clinic. The community appealed to the Minister
of Health for funding. Upon hearing about the organizational structure of
the clinic, Dr. Roberto Gutierrez, a World Bank advisor to the MOH, realized
that the Clinica Asistencial La Caridad was a new, community-based model of
healthcare management. Dr. Gutierrez arranged for the World Bank Health
Reform Project to establish a cooperative agreement with the Minister of
Health to finance the operation of the clinic in El Guante. The original
arrangement stipulated that those in the village with enough income would
contribute to the healthcare of those in the village with less or no income.
Administrative control, however, remained at the local level, which allowed
the community to retain a sense of ownership and pride. The MOH, with World
Bank Money, pays US $19 per year per capita for the package of health
services the clinic provides to the registered population of El Guante.
Village residents contribute financially according to their ability, as
determined by a socioeconomic study performed by the foundation. In going
forward with this vision the MOH and World Bank want to see the same success
in future clinics. According to Seivert, “they want the local control
concept of healthcare management, used in El Guante, to spread to all
clinics within the country.” Much of the success of ‘Clinica Asistencial La
Caridad’ can be traced to the original ideas of Sister Val Knoche, Sister
Barb Zimmer, (missionary Sisters in El Guante at the time), David Castro
(administrator of the clinic), and the community members who had the vision
for better health care for their people. To contribute to the clinic you may
send donations to Mission Honduras LeMars.
In the right
light, at the right time,
everything is extraordinary.
Suyatel Clinic Ceded to Fundacion
In late 2005, the medical clinic of Suyatel was ceded
by the Honduras government to the foundation in El Guante. The El Guante
clinic, built a few years ago by Gehlen Mission Honduras and Mission
Honduras LeMars, established a foundation to run their clinic in El Guante.
That foundation is know as Fundacion la Caridad and is supported by Mission
Honduras LeMars funds throughout the year. The government of Honduras,
through the Ministry of Health, along with the World Bank, has primary
responsibility in funding rural medical clinics, including the El Guante
clinic. MHL supports the clinics with special funding and equipment when
Fence Constructed Around Suyatel Clinic
Mission Honduras LeMars funded the construction of a fence around the
clinic in Suyatel. According to David Castro, administrator of both the
clinics in El Guante and Suyatel the need was great. On a recent trip to
Honduras, Richard Seivert, director of Mission Honduras LeMars saw first-hand the need for such a project. He said it was paramount that such
security be taken.