We are delighted to partner with IHER to educate 253 secondary students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to continue their studies. Those chosen for assistance were selected based on their desire to serve others. Our idea is that for each scholarship we provide, we aren’t just helping one child – an educated child with a heart to create positive change for others will help many down the road.
In addition to these 253 students, we choose one very special student each year for a university sponsorship. These students are chosen in honor of Sor Marta Soto who founded IHER, and the criteria to be selected includes having a heart to serve others, a dream of a positive change they want to bring to their community/Honduras, a plan for how they will do so, and the tenacity to pursue the dream in the face of obstacles.
John Angel is one of our university students, and he is one of the youngest students ever admitted to his medical school (entering at age 16). Although he struggled at first, he quickly rose to the top of his class, winning many awards and honors along the way. A few of the most recent:
- Last summer, all the medical students in the region participated in medical research projects that were judged by a cohort of doctors, and John won first place in the contest.
- Every year, 4 students and an intern are selected to participate in a regional “Olympics” in Internal Medicine. John was selected to be on his school’s team this year, and they competed against 7 other teams. John’s team won, and, surprise, surprise, John gave the winning answer (and probably many others)!
- John is currently doing his residency in surgery, and a surgeon evaluated all the students in his class. The surgeon promised that the student with the highest score would accompany him to Zacapa to participate in a surgery removing a gall bladder. John had the highest score, so he participated in the surgery where he learned many new things.
John’s schedule is rather grueling. Balancing classes with on-the-job hospital learning requires long hours. He gets up at 4:00am every day, works at the hospital from 5:00am-2:00pm, has classes from 2:00-4:00pm, then works at the hospital again from 4:00 until anywhere from 6:00 to 11:00pm. Despite the obvious fatigue this causes, he tells us, “I am learning that the fatigue is worth it. Sometimes, yes, there is no time to do many things like sleeping, studying, cooking, but I feel joy in being able to serve.”
Despite the wonderful success he is having in medical school, John has struggled emotionally. Hardest for him is seeing the families of his patients suffer because they can’t afford medical care for their loved ones. Though John is doing his residency at a public hospital so procedures are free, patients must pay for many basic items, like bandages, diagnostic exams, blood if they need transfusions, even ibuprofen. Many of the patients who come are indigenous people that are very poor and can’t afford the necessary tests and medicines, and they are turned away when they can’t pay. This has been very discouraging for him.
To give John the power to make a difference (and to help the suffering patients as well) we created a small fund which John can use for needy cases. Every two months he sends us a report with a description of each patient and how funds were used to help. For example, while working in pediatric surgery last month he helped 27 patients, including:
- Marian, age 6, who had third-degree burns from a cooking accident. Her wounds were cleansed and surgically debrided to remove dead skin, and she spent several weeks in intensive care. John purchased Vaseline gauze and sulfa-silver cream for her wounds.
- Carlos, age 7, was admitted with severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and they discovered worms were blocking his intestines. He was given medicine to kill the worms, and surgery was performed to clear his intestines. John purchased medicine and a healing kit for him (which includes things like alcohol, mineral oil, cotton, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, and sterile bandages to place on the wounds).
- Fabiola, age 5, had a collapsed lung from a broken rib. Doctors surgically inserted tubes to drain the accumulated air and help her heal. John used our fund to purchase cannulas, intercostal tubes, bandages and a healing kit for the little girl.
He also buys toys for the children to distract them as he treats their wounds, and he donates blood periodically so his patients don’t have to pay.
We are grateful for your support which makes these efforts possible.