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Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on September 22, 2010

Labels: Honduras , Women’s and Children’s Health

For more than 28 years – more than half of the 52 years Project HOPE has been in existence – HOPE has shared health education and humanitarian assistance with the people of Honduras. While we have made great strides in advancing health in this Central American nation, our work here is yet unfinished.

After Haiti, Honduras is the second poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Nearly 65 percent of Hondurans live in poverty. Forty-two percent are considered living in extreme poverty.

Despite the poverty, as I look into the faces and hear the voices of the Honduran people, I see and hear hope. A hope that Project HOPE is uniquely positioned to deliver. Why am I so optimistic about the future of HOPE in Honduras? Let me tell you why.

For 23 of the 28 years HOPE has been in Honduras, our current Country Director, Marco Antonio Suazo, has had his steady hand in our work here. From coordinating humanitarian relief efforts in response to the devastation from Hurricane Mitch in 1998, to overseeing a successful HIV/AIDS prevention program, to leading the successful Village Health Banks program, Marco has his eye focused and heart open to implementing the best possible health programs for his fellow Hondurans.

And Marco is not alone in his commitment to Honduras. The average tenure of HOPE’s senior leadership in Honduras is 18-20 years. And several of the “younger” HOPE staff members joined the HOPE family after graduating from our Village Health Banks – a testament that our micro-lending program is working in giving new opportunities to the women and their families who participate.

Along with the HOPE Honduras staff, I know another Honduran deeply dedicated to the health of his country – Honduras’s Minister of Health Dr. Arturo Bendana Pinel. How do I know this? I sat with Dr. Pinel in his office at 10 p.m. discussing what we could do together to make a difference in the lives of Hondurans.

In between his meetings with the President of Honduras and running a number of the country’s health care programs, Dr. Pinel still practices Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is very supportive of HOPE’s programs for women and children, and is particularly pleased with the success of our Village Health Banks program. I look forward to working with Dr. Pinel to address several of the country’s health challenges.

With a heavy heart, I leave Honduras. But I leave with confidence – in both the HOPE staff and in the Honduran health care leadership - that our work will continue to make a difference for years to come.

Now, it’s on to Nicaragua for the second chapter in my Central America visit.

John

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