Hands On In Honduras
By Amy Martin
Special to GoHolyCross.com
This summer three Crusaders, senior Emily Greeke (Hamilton, Mass.), senior Jackie Jankowski (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and junior Beth Charron (Manchester, N.H.) took a 2,000 mile journey they will not forget anytime soon.
Greeke, a swimmer and Psychology, Pre-Med student; and Jankowski and Charron members of the women’s rowing team and Psychology, Pre-Med and Biology, Pre-Med students respectively, are all members of Holy Cross’ student organization Medical Ministries International. This summer the girls traveled with the group to Honduras to provide care for those in need. The Holy Cross chapter, started by Megan Cooper, a Holy Cross graduate, and Greeke’s sophomore year roommate, brings students into third world countries to serve as medical ministers. “These places haven’t experienced medical care in four years, since we were here last,” Jankowski explained. “The tragedy is huge.”
Because of their commitment to the rowing team in the spring, Jankowski and Charron are unable to take advantage of Holy Cross’ spring break immersion service trips. But after learning about the summer trip to Honduras, the pair saw an opportunity to fulfill their desire to serve. “After going to an information session and being Pre-Med it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get hands on experience and make a difference,” Jankowski said.
And a hands on experience it was. During their weeklong stay in San Jose De Copan, Honduras both Jankowski and Charron were thrown headfirst into the action. Even with limited Spanish skills, the girls provided parasite medication to patients, ran lab work and did some translating while shadowing the doctors. “It was really cool, really hands on, they really gave us a shot,” Charron said of her work in the clinic.
Although San Jose is not the poorest area of Honduras, several surrounding areas are deeply impoverished and lacking medical care. After hearing that the Medical Missionaries were in San Jose, “People would walk for hours without shoes, barely wearing clothes,” Jankowski stated of some of the patients.
One man left a particularly strong impact on Jankowski. “One guy I saw on the first day said his leg hurt. He rolled up his pant leg and his bone was sticking out from a car accident he had been in seven years ago.” Jankowski would later find out the man had been to the clinic four years earlier. Although there was not much the doctors could do for the man except clean his wounds, he was glad to been seen by the medical team. “He took it like a champ, he had quite the tolerance for pain,” Jankowski said.
Although Greeke went a week earlier and to a different location than Jankowski and Charron, she expressed similar sentiments about her experience. “You don’t realize it until you’re there and the people are standing in line waiting for you to help them. You’re giving them your time,” Greeke said. “We were challenged by Dr. Cooper, Megan’s dad, to see the people we were treating as our family members or people back home,” she said.
Also working in the labs, Greeke performed many blood and urine tests, but one of her biggest challenges was translating for the doctors. For Greeke the first experience with translating, “was terrifying, but I got through it. I had a Honduran translator but it was mostly me flying solo. It was so scary, but so great.”
Greeke also commented about those she served, “The people we met in Honduras were genuinely happy people. Here there are a lot of people who rush and feel the need to meet deadlines, they don’t have much but they’re so happy. I’ve tried to bring that appreciation back with me. It’s made me slow down and definitely live more in the moment.”
Charron also recalled the happy nature of the people she encountered, “My worst day here is better than their best day, but they’re happier than most people. Most came into the clinic with a big smile on their face, very happy to meet you.”
The happiness they experienced and the people they served left a clear impact on the three Crusaders and when asked if they would go back again the girls offered a resounding, “Yes!” True examples of men and women for others.