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Aug 30, 2019

The Other Side of the Mountain

Note:  Even though Dr. Jan Tepe is writing about DENTAL services -- the children she writes about are the same children who are in StS's nutrition program.

It was a trip I’d wanted to do for nearly ten years. We had heard about a community in the area of San Marcos de Sierra that was “the poorest of the poor”. We’d already established school dental health programs in Santa Lucia and Concepcion and wondered what could be next. I mentioned the possibility of visiting this community, the poorest of the poor, called Delicias, to Laura Manship some months ago. She herself had made the hike and cautiously discouraged us from trying to get there. It’s a long and difficult hike, up one side of a mountain and then down the other side. We discussed the obstacles of the hike with our group – two dental hygienists, the Honduran dentist and her assistant, a public health dentist, and our two drivers/guides. Everyone agreed to the plan. The trek began at 4:00 am when the truck arrived to meet us near the square in Concepcion. After a half hour or so on the main road we turned onto the dirt road. For the next hour we bumped and bounced over ruts and rocks, up hills so steep I didn’t think it was possible for a vehicle to climb. So this is what four wheel drive is for! In 20 years of travel to Honduras, these roads were as bad as any I’d ever seen.

Eventually, the road ended and the two trucks were tucked in close to an embankment. We donned our backpacks filled with dental supplies and water and set out. The path up begins somewhat wide with sharp drop-offs to the valley. Ahead of us was a Honduran woman in a dress and sandals carrying a box that was held by a nylon net looped over her forehead and hanging down her back. Our group spread out, each of us stopping as necessary to catch our breath and admire the spectacular scenery. The sun had come up and it was a beautiful day. The woman disappeared from sight and presumably took a shortcut too steep for us, but we later saw her on the other side of the mountain. Up, up, up, through a narrow ridge with scrubby foliage where the terrain fell off on both sides. 

After 2 hours we were rewarded with the sight of the village. This isn’t your normal village. We saw three buildings – a public health clinic, a school, and a small pulperia. People in this area live tucked away, far from one another. We set up our supplies outside the school and waited until the children and their parents arrived. There is no electricity in Delicias and little contact with the outside world. The people are neat and clean with little girls wearing dresses and mothers wearing homemade dresses and sandals. Dra. Idalia gave a talk, discussing how to brush teeth, why we brush teeth, diet, and what we planned to do.

And what exactly did we plan? Well, after each child had brushed their teeth, we examined their teeth and applied a material called silver diamine fluoride (SDF) to areas of decay. SDR kills the bacteria in the cavity and stops the decay. Sometimes this require two or three applications. The downside is that the areas of decay turn black. The upside is it is painless, requires no injection, and the teeth are saved. This material in gaining popularity, especially in developing countries. After seeing first hand the difficulties in simply getting to this community, we understood why these people cannot come to our clinic and also why it would be impossible to get portable equipment to them.

The kids and parents were great. Of the 50 or so children that we saw, only one little guy about 4 years old screamed his head off. The others patiently waited in line and then compliantly opened their mouths while we strange looking, tall, pale people dabbed stuff on their teeth.

Shortly before noon we left Delicias to do the hike in reverse. If up the mountain was strenuous, down the mountain was scary, with steep switchbacks every 15 feet or so and loose scree. Walking on marbles, down a playground slide would describe it. The way back was no easier, but somehow the way home always seems shorter. We have a new appreciation for the lives of the people on the other side of the moutain.

Jan Tepe, DDS, in Delicias, Intibuca, Honduras
Jan Tepe, DDS, in Delicias, Intibuca, Honduras
Delicias, Intibuca, Honduras
Delicias, Intibuca, Honduras
Jul 17, 2019

I Have Yet to Experience Greater Job Satisfaction!

Haley (Rapp) Chipol (back row, far right)
Haley (Rapp) Chipol (back row, far right)

Hello Friends,

I hope you're all well! I've attempted to write this reflection more than once, but I haven't made it very far.

I was a volunteer with Shoulder to Shoulder, in the department of Intibucá, Honduras, from January to August 2017.  My role was Assistant Brigade Coordinator. I helped organize medical service trips of professionals and students. We set up mobile clinics to assist those in remote areas lacking care. Maybe you're wondering, why write this now? My answer is, it's time. As we hear about immigration daily, I'm reminded of people I met and the reality of life there. Now married and with a newborn son, my ability to serve has changed. It might not be much, but I’d like to share more if you’re interested in helping.

There are so many stories I could write about, but the main word in all of them would be RESILIENCY. Just about every task is harder there, almost all work being done by hand. What a blessing it is to have running water in your home, showering when you want or washing clothes. How great it is to have access to medical care, especially for mental health. The lack of sufficient assistance, jobs, and water make for a difficult environment. Poverty is a reality that is often cyclical as people are just working to live. Individuals do what must be done to support their families, but also still give to others. The genuineness I experienced has left me with a deep sense of connection. With everything stripped away, our similarities were evident and helped us relate. I'll forever remember the conversations and food shared with strangers and friends. The fighting spirit of those I met is inspiring as is their example of sacrifice. It's hard to forget the woman in her eighties who walked four hours to receive glasses and ibuprofen or the parents who left kids behind to get better jobs. I have trouble reconciling that reality with my own as I look at my current surroundings, my heart won't let me.   

So, I'm asking you to consider helping Shoulder to Shoulder in their mission. They're working to provide medical care, running a nutrition program, and have a bilingual school. Full time employees are Hondurans and all US doctors and staff are volunteers. Maybe you can donate something or know someone who'd like to volunteer on a medical brigade or long term. I have yet to experience greater job satisfaction! I was certainly challenged personally and spiritually, but grew because of it. Above all, I ask that you keep the people of Honduras in your thoughts and prayers. Please visit Shoulder to Shoulder’s website ( to learn more about the organization and the necessary work they're doing.

A fellow volunteer (Matt Tibbitts) created a great video; it will give you an idea of where I was:

Thanks for your support!


Jun 7, 2019

Climbing Mt. Denali to raise funds for Honduran Children

Ronald Quintero first Honduran to summit Mt Denali
Ronald Quintero first Honduran to summit Mt Denali

Ronald Quintero set two goals:

1)  To climb Mt. Denail

2)  To raise $5000 for Shoulder to Shoulder's Nutrition Program.

Here is what he recently wrote:

Me enorgullece anunciar que el 29 de mayo a las 5:52 p.m. hora local de Alaska, obtuve una cumbre exitosa del Monte Denali con una altura de 20,310 pies / 6,190 m. Esta ha sido la escalada más dura que he hecho hasta hoy en día y quiero dedicarla a los niños de Honduras. Gracias a todos y a todos por los bellos mensajes! Yo me encuentro bien, haciendo mi retorno a casa para recuperarme.

Ronald Quintero//

 English translation: 

I’m proud to announce that on May 29 at 5:52PM local Alaska time, I had a successful summit of Mount Denali with an elevation of 20,310 ft / 6,190 m. This has been the toughest climb I have ever done and I want to dedicate it to the children of Honduras. Thank you to each and everyone for the uplifting messages. I’m doing great & headed home for recovery.


Ronald met his first goal.  Won't you help him to reach his second goal? 


Federación Hondureña de Deportes de Montaña y Escalada
June 4
Felicitamos al montañista hondureño Ronald Quintero, que este 29 de mayo a las 5:52 p.m. hora local de Alaska, ha llegado a la cima del Monte Denali con una altura de 6,190 msnm, siendo el primer hondureño en estar en esa montaña. Esta es la cuarta montaña de su proyecto de las 7 cumbres del mundo. 

El monte Denali (anteriormente denominado monte McKinley) es la montaña más alta de América del Norte, con una altitud de 6190 metros. Está situado en la cordillera de Alaska, en el centro-sur del estado de Alaska (Estados Unidos). A pesar de no ser uno de los más altos del mundo, el desnivel que hay que superar (unos 4000 m desde el campo base), junto a las bajas temperaturas, dada su cercanía al círculo polar ártico, hacen del Denali uno de los picos más complicados de ascender. El nombre Denali significa «el Grande» en las lenguas atabascanas.  En hora buena Ronald:  muchos éxitos en tus próximos proyectos….
English translation:

We congratulate the Honduran mountaineer Ronald Quintero, who this May 29 at 5:52 p.m. local time of Alaska, has reached the top of Mount Denali with a height of 6,190 meters, being the first Honduran to summit that mountain. This is the fourth mountain of his project to climb  the 7 highest summits of the world.

Mount Denali (formerly called Mount McKinley) is the highest mountain in North America, with an altitude of 6190 meters. It is located in the mountain range of Alaska, in the center-south of the state of Alaska (the United States). Despite not being one of the highest in the world, the slope that must be overcome (about 4000 m from the base camp), together with the low temperatures, given its proximity to the Arctic Circle, make the Denali one of the peaks more complicated to ascend. The name Denali means "the Great" in the Atabascan languages.  Ronald:  many successes in your next projects ....



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