Haley (Rapp) Chipol (back row, far right)
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 (www.shouldertoshoulder.org) 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euFg0-x1RNs
Thanks for your support!