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More Needs Met as CAMO Grows

Ruth Crowley

Santa Rosa de Copan | Honduras

Over the past twenty years CAMO (Central American Medical Outreach) has grown from an initial dental team to thirty five various specialty teams under the guidance of Kathy Tschiegg (founder and CEO). Doctors and nurses from various specialties including Opthalmology, OB-Gynecology, Plastic Surgery, Pulmonary, Urology, Pathology, Trauma, Physical Therapy, Prosthetics, Respiratory Therapy, Audiometry, and Dietetics are now represented. Needs have been identified and addressed as CAMO has grown.

Six years ago a pathology team was initiated which is led by Dr. Arun Masih of Wooster Ohio and Susan Borocz of Nova, Ohio, in conjunction with Dr. Cerrato, a Honduran pathologist. They are assisted by several Honduran lab technicians while in residence, and remain in touch via the Internet throughout the year. There are so few Honduran pathologists that conference calls with Dr. Masih are sometimes necessary for a proper diagnosis. He is able to confer with other American pathologists to solve the sometimes very complex specimens which they receive. This is such a positive result for the Honduran pathologists as it enhances their resources tremendously.

There are many support teams such as biomedical, information technology, computer software, electrical, and maintenance to name a few. A highly critical support team are the interpreters consisting of Linda Pratt from Millersburg and other Americans, as well as Honduran high school students from Hector Emilio Medina Bilingual School located in Santa Rosa. It is a mutually advantageous arrangement as the Americans can hone their Spanish and the students can practice their English. Those of us who are not fluent in Spanish provide plenty of comic relief when we confuse our words. "Embarasada" means that you are pregnant, not embarrassed! Without the team of interpreters, work would be accomplished much less efficiently at best: at worst, mayhem could occur!

Psychological and mental health needs have been addressed with the recent completion of a women's shelter. The shelter is connected to a trade school where women can learn skills such as sewing, jewelry making, and advanced cooking, therefore creating increased self sufficiency. Classes in woodworking, welding, soldering, and carpentry for men are also available in a separate area at the trade school.

What is life without a little exercise and stress relief disguised as fun? Julia Bogner, along with Sally and Ally Huttinger, provide tennis instruction to children and adults in a gym renovated by CAMO. The goal is to encourage healthy lifestyles as families spend time together. The Hondurans are so grateful for the supplies that CA MO volunteers donate that all equipment (including each tennis ball) must be signed out and then accounted for before the people are allowed to leave the gym.

A local daycare, where Robyn McClintock volunteers, receives financial as well as material support from CAMO. Robin brings crayons, coloring books, composition books, construction paper, and pencils by the suitcase full because this daycare can only afford the minimum of supplies. CAMO provides funding for the teacher's salary. Community outreach such as this fullfills another of CAMO's goals and results in a very favorable relationship between CAMO and the community of Santa Rosa de Copan.

Many friendships have developed over the years due to these interactions between the American and Honduran teams. CAMO is unique in that when Americans leave, the work and sharing of knowledge continues. Knowledge flows both ways as we Americans learn a great deal from our Honduran counterparts. There is much to be gained by all when engaging with other cultures. From the newest volunteer such as Bill Taylor (physical therapy) to the twenty year veterans, Ron Pycraft (eye clinic) and Tim Lorson (respiratory therapist), all agree that you are a different and more grateful person on your return to the states. Adios for this year!

 

The Daily Record