Written by Nick Perenick, ECGulls Contributor
BEVERLY, Mass. – Endicott women's ice hockey rising senior Courtney Walpole (Allen, Texas) took a week-long service trip to Honduras from June 14-22. ECGulls.com spoke with Walpole to get a better understanding of her trip.
During her time in Honduras, Walpole, a bioengineering major, volunteered her time by providing basic medical and dental care to the poor in the pharmacy and clinic. Due to Walpole's strong interest in the medical field, she was allowed to work with the medical team in the pharmacy. The clinic and the pharmacy were set up in a church in the town of Santa Rita where she performed medical counseling work. The other group was in charge of the construction aspect of the service.
There were many moving pieces in regards to the volunteers on the trip. The medical staff consisted of two dentists and oral surgeons, two registered nurses, one Physician Assistant, one Nurse Practitioner, and one Pediatric Doctor. The clinic was open from about nine in the morning until four in the afternoon every day, in which medical equipment that was donated to the group was provided. By the end of the week, the group had assisted over 550 people.
"It was humbling to arrive at the clinic at 8:30 AM every day and see people and families lined up waiting for the basic health care that we could provide," said Walpole. "Everyone that came in from the villages traveled anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours by taxi or foot to come to our clinic to get medical attention."I was amazed by the gratitude the people had after we gave them their medicine, even if it was just vitamins."
"All of the people in Honduras were very friendly offering me food, candy, drinks and lots of love," said Walpole. "The temperatures reached the 90's with high humidity, but that did not stop citizens to travel and wait hours to be treated. They came to the clinic dressed in their best clothes and greeted us with a smile."
After receiving patient paperwork and dispensing medications Walpole and the staff would then counsel those in need by giving medication instructions based on the doctor's orders.
Walpole's mother was one of the registered nurses on the trip, assisting with IV bags, medicines, and nutrition which made it easier for Walpole to understand where her tenacious attitude to help others comes from.
Due to her lack of Spanish speaking abilities, a translator was provided to her, a senior student at a local nearby school that was proficient in English. When Walpole was assisting a terminally ill gentleman, his family members were eager to share their toys although not being able to understand each other. Despite the language barrier, Walpole enjoyed the company of all the bright and smiling faces she encountered.
Walpole said after the trip that she is already eager to visit Honduras again someday to provide more assistance.
WHAT WALPOLE LEARNED
"I learned to be thankful for what I have. The people of Honduras also taught me that you don't need a lot to be happy and enjoy life," said Walpole.
She continued to elaborate on her experience by adding, "I think everyone needs to go on a service trip at some time in their life to see how others live. I think it helps us put what is important into perspective. Believe it or not, you can live without an air conditioner."
Finally, Walpole spoke on the high point of the journey by stating, "The highlight of my trip was talking with the people from the villages, seeing them smile, and just being able to help someone in need. Because of this trip, my passion for the medical field has grown and I hope to help underserved areas after I attend medical school."
Along with this volunteer work, Walpole has already served the community while being a Gull by participating in an ALS Race and also at the Gloucester Food Pantry by making meals for those in need.
(Photo Credit - Courtney Walpole)