Mission Honduras LeMars: Feature Story
Mahatma Gandhi
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Health and Nutrition Task Force in Montana de la Flor
   For many years Mission Honduras LeMars has been involved with the Tolupan of MDLF. Each year we normally would send a medical team to the mountain to bring care to those that had little or no access to treatment. We also had our food program delivering needed supplemental food to the mountain people. In the past few years we realized the need for a more extended and permanent presence of medical care in the mountain. A couple of years ago we cultivated a relationship with Dr. Teri Kemmer, a professor of nutrition at South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D.  Dr. Kemmer is a retired Colonel from the U.S. Army. At one point she was stationed at the U.S. Air Force Base in Soto Cano, Honduras. After retiring she became a professor and each year takes teams of nutrition students into Honduras to study the nutrition of some of the most remote Hondurans. She agreed to accompany us to MDLF this year with the possibility of doing a nutrition study of the Tolupan (we have been after this for years). She brought Dr. Miguel Cuello, a medical doctor from ‘Task Force Bravo’ Soto Cano, who is in charge of all the military medical brigades that go throughout Honduras delivering needed medical attention. A nurse from Task Force Bravo, Marta Sosa from Cerro de Plata Foundation, and Marny Rivera from the Illich Foundation also made the long trip to the mountain with us.
   Through Mission Honduras LeMars we also have just completed 3 water projects in Montana de la Flor with money from a Rotary International Grant (started right here in LeMars by our local Rotary Club). The villages of Monterey, La Guaruma, and Torreon Quebrada now have clean running water to each home. 
   We had an outstanding meeting with the Tolupan and most of the Chiefs. Representing the Tolupan were the presidents of each of the 5 tribes, along with Chiefs Julio, Tomas, and Alvaro. Sister Val Knoche translated throughout the hour long meeting. Representing MHL, Gehlen Mission Honduras, and …Then Feed Just One, I spoke of the strong bond between our two peoples. I greeted the Chiefs and thanked them for allowing us to come into the mountain. I spoke of the food and water programs from the past and how we would like to continue them. They all voted agreement. The eldest son of Chief Tomas spoke about the need for more food. We agreed to send them 45,000 meals immediately from Tegucigalpa. The number of children and adults who have died in the mountain this year due to hunger and malnutrition is quite large – we don’t know the total but we do know it is many. Dr. Kemmer spoke and asked permission to bring a nutrition team into the mountain sometime yet this year – they voted and agreed. Dr. Cuello spoke about bringing ‘Task Force Bravo’ into MDLF for needed medical care. He emphasized the need to helicopter the team of 12 medical people into the mountain – too difficult by road. The Tolupan voted and agreed to let TFB into the mountain for this purpose and to use one of the only flat pieces of land to land the helicopter.
   The eldest son of Chief Julio then spoke and thanked all our group of 10 for all the efforts we are making on behalf of his people, and the need to continue to build this strong relationship. He expressed thanks to all the people that support these programs we represent. We all agreed to go home and begin planning all these future efforts. In a sign of solidarity and thanks Chief Julio presented me with two hand carved ‘peace pipes.’ In return I presented him with a pack of Marlboro Lights. We then smoked a cigarette over the agreements we just made.

   Francis Seivert and Julio Martinez (eldest son of Chief Tomas) remain in contact every week. It is through the efforts of these two that MHL, Gehlen Mission Honduras, Feed Just One, and now a nutrition research team and a medical brigade from TFB are able to carry on this very important work. 
   All 10 of us that made the trip to MDLF were a little stunned by the level of malnutrition and ill health of the Tolupan.
   Drs. Kemmer and Cuello, along with Marta Sosa, were all given the Plumpy Nut we carried into Honduras. They will begin to study its potential use not only in MDLF but throughout the country.