CAMO has a heart for kids
SANTA ROSE DE COPÁN, HONDURAS – CAMO volunteers Robyn McClintock and Rynae Westfall arrived in Santa Rosa excited to see children at the day care in Santa Rosa.
Robyn, a CAMO board member, has been the counterpart in that program for 11 years. When she talks about CAMO, tears fill her eyes. When she talks about the day care, she just beams.
She knows many of the kids by name and recognizes them year to year. She loves to take pictures of the kids, and print them off to take with her when she returns. Most of the children have never seen a picture of themselves. The kids remember her and ask their teacher Reina when she will return.
Rynae, Robyn’s sister, is returning for her second time. She loves kids and remembers her first visit in 2014 and how emotional the trip was. Rynae still has pictures on her phone from her last trip – and one little girl, Ivana, in particular touched her heart. Ivana is still a student there, and when Rynae showed her the picture of herself on her phone, the little girl beamed. A bond was formed between them a few years ago – and that bond is even stronger on this trip. When Rynae talks about Ivana, tears fill her eyes. During her trip she learned that Ivana had been having health issues and needed and EKG which costs 3,000 limperas – which is as much as her mother makes in a month. She could not afford it.
Rynae called Kathy Tschiegg, International Director of CAMO, and together they figured out a way to make it happen. I asked her how she was going to feel leaving her, and she started crying. She said, “I know it will be emotional, I just don’t know if her mom is able to keep up on her medical needs, and it just breaks my heart.” I asked her how she felt about CAMO, and she said, “CAMO is amazing. I love the heart of the volunteers who have such passion for the people, their willingness to give up precious vacation time, money and family time to come back year after year.“
When asked why she comes back year after year, Robyn says, “My first trip began after hearing my husband, Mike, talk about his experience with CAMO, and I had to see for myself what I could contribute to this great organization. The passion and commitment I see in Reina (the teacher) to make an impact in the lives of impoverished children of Santa Rosa de Copan keeps me coming back year after year.”
Every year she arrives with things to share with the children and the teacher. Each year she asks Reina, “If you could have one wish for something for your classroom, what would it be?” Last year, Reina asked for anti-bacterial dispensers because the water that the kids wash their hands in is contaminated. Reina got her wish and more. She brought with her many basic children’s medications, hygiene supplies and washcloths for the daycare nurse Leidy. Robyn also purchased much in the way of school supplies, toys and diapers – but one other thing that brought a tearful response from Reina. I asked her what that one thing was and she said, “Something we all take for granted, clean water! To see Reina’s face light up when the water cooler and first bottle of water was delivered today in her classroom overwhelmed me to tears.”
When I asked her why CAMO, she said, “You get to a point in life when you realize how blessed you are and the only response for me was to give back. Going home knowing the students in her classroom will have access to clean water everyday gives me such pride in being associated with CAMO and all they do to change lives. From a severe cleft palate to making sure 4-year-olds have clean, safe drinking water, CAMO does bring hope and I am honored to be a part of that hope.”
On this trip both Robyn and Rynae spent time helping Reina copy 18 pages of dotted capital A’s for the kids to practice on. Reina’s big wish item for next year is a copier. Reina does all of her copying by hand.
To learn more about CAMO, find us on Facebook by searching Central American Medical Outreach or visit our website at www.camo.org. or call our office at 330.683.5956