El Retiro

  • Overview
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Engineering
  • Water
  • Business
  • Public Health

Overview

El Retiro is a small community with a population of 440 people living in around 120 homes in the mountainous municipality of Morocelí. Prior to Water Brigades’ arrival, people in El Retiro lacked access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation infrastructure, healthcare, and education. Common colds, parasites, and diarrheal disease were prevalent. Yet, health care was not readily available as the nearest health center is about thirty minutes away. Few homes had concrete floors, properly functioning latrines, proper water storage, or efficient stoves with chimneys. Schooling is offered until sixth grade in the community. Students who attend secondary school must walk to Buena Vista, which is a thirty-minute walk from El Retiro. Thus, most children leave school and begin to work in agriculture to support their families. The average family income is estimated to be 750 Lempiras per month (US $1 per day).

Municipality: Morocelí
Department: El Paraíso

Homes : 120
Population : 440
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : No
Health Center : No
Community Health Workers : Yes
Education : Up to 9th Grade
Distance from Lodging Facility : 1 hr 30 min
Homes with Latrines :

Medical

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

HEALTH CARE ACCESS

The Honduran government provides two different types of health centers throughout rural Honduras: Centros de Salud Médico Odontológico (CESAMOs) and Centros de Salud Rural (CESARs). CESAMOs are the larger of the two, often found in municipalities, and typically have at least one physician on staff at all times with nurses and potentially a dentist. CESARs are found sporadically in rural communities and generally have a single nurse available. Even with this coverage, it is important to note that medications, supplies, and materials are often not available in these health centers and the physician density in Honduras remains around 1,220 people for every one doctor. According to the World Health Organization, there should be a maximum of 435 people per physician to qualify a country as having adequate access to medical attention.

Community members from El Retiro seek health care in both the CESAR and medical brigades in Buena Vista. The nurse staffs the health center Monday through Friday from about 9am to 3pm and lives in Morocelí on the weekends. If El Retiro’s inhabitants wish to see a doctor or dentist, they must travel down the mountain to the nearest CESAMO in Morocelí. The trip can take up to 3 hours on foot. Although there is a bus that comes to the community, it does not come very often and many community members cannot afford its fee. Therefore, health care access is very limited. The most common illnesses reported by the community are respiratory infections and the flu.

*These statistics reflect data from Medical/Dental brigades in the community of Buena Vista, where community members from El Retiro attend the mobile clinics.

236

Brigade Volunteers*

4,997

Patient Consultations*

494

Pap smears Performed*

115

Health Education Workshops*

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS

El Retiro has access to a total of fifteen Community Health Workers (CHWs). These CHWs were trained in the community of Buena Vista and provide their services to a total of six communities. Five of them live in El Retiro.

Community Health Workers, or Guardianes de Salud, work on a volunteer basis as advocates for health care within their communities. While this is an existing program in Honduras and Guardianes de Salud are identified by other organizations and some health centers, Global Brigades is able to bridge gaps in access to training and provide more comprehensive technical skills. Our CHWs are some of the very few Guardianes de Salud to receive certification from the Honduran government. Our CHWs are tasked with treating and preventing common illnesses, and some of their responsibilities include first aid, supporting and caring for pregnancies and newborns, and responding to emergency situations. They are also responsible for following up with chronic patients to ensure proper administration of medications and treatments to avoid further complications. Additionally, CHWs provide support for brigades that are hosted in their area. At the completion of their training, CHWs are equipped with basic medical supplies and equipment provided by Global Brigades and its partners. The presence of these volunteers and their advocacy for health within their community contributes to the sustainability of health care supported by Global Brigades’ Medical Program and is one of the most impactful disease prevention strategies in rural communities across the globe.

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Since space in the CESAR is extremely limited, community members in El Retiro attend Medical and Dental Brigade clinics hosted in Buena Vista’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the school’s five classrooms. Doctors are able to spend an average of ten minutes with each patient. Each brigade sees an average of 714 patients, and an average of 75 dental procedures are performed. Of these, 75 are dental procedures. Each day of the brigade, an average of five to six educational charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 215
NEARBY COMMUNITIES: LIQUIDAMBOS, EL RETIRO, LAS UVAS
BRIGADE SITE: SCHOOL BUILDING

 

MEDICAL/DENTAL BRIGADES IN BUENA VISTA

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Marquette University July 2012 28 Boston University January 2013 51
Loyola University August 2013 25 NY Medical College April 2014 34
Michigan State December 2014 37 Seton Hall University  May 2015 31
North Park Vikings June 2016 25

 

Dental

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

DENTAL CARE ACCESS

Working closely with the Medical Program, the Dental Program provides fillings, extractions, and fluoride treatments as a standard part of medical brigades. Most community members do not have regular access to dental care due to the lack of a dentist within a reasonable distance.

*These statistics reflect data from Medical/Dental brigades in the community of Buena Vista, where community members from El Retiro attend the mobile clinics.

371

Patients Consultations*

944

Fluoride Treatments*

181

Fillings Performed*

92

Dental Education Workshops*

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Since space in the CESAR is extremely limited, community members in El Retiro attend Medical and Dental Brigade clinics hosted in Buena Vista’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the school’s five classrooms. Doctors are able to spend an average of ten minutes with each patient. Each brigade sees an average of 714 patients, and an average of 75 dental procedures are performed. Of these, 75 are dental procedures. Each day of the brigade, an average of five to six educational charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 215
NEARBY COMMUNITIES: LIQUIDAMBOS, EL RETIRO, LAS UVAS
BRIGADE SITE: SCHOOL BUILDING

 

MEDICAL/DENTAL BRIGADES IN BUENA VISTA

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Marquette University July 2012 28 Boston University January 2013 51
Loyola University August 2013 25 NY Medical College April 2014 34
Michigan State December 2014 37 Seton Hall University  May 2015 31
North Park Vikings June 2016 25

 

Engineering

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

EL RETIRO’S ENGINEERING CHALLENGE

Prior to their partnership with Global Brigades, El Retiro never had a centralized water system that provided access to the entire community. Years ago, some workers from the community built a small water catchment tank that collected water from two of the community’s strongest springs, directing the water through a plastic hose to 25 homes in the lower-lying area of the community. The water was piped directly from the source to the houses with no central tank for storage and treatment, negatively affecting the quality and quantity of water arriving at the connected houses.

The majority of the families whose homes were not connected to this hose network accessed water from one of the many small streams and springs located throughout the community. Many people walked to the nearest sources to bathe, wash clothes, and collect and carry water for household use. During the dry season, some of the sources dry up, and people had to travel farther away from their homes to access water. Regardless of how they accessed the water, there was no central treatment system and few families treated their drinking water, increasing the risk of contracting waterborne illnesses.

N/A

Brigade Volunteers

296

Project Beneficiaries

10

Kilometers of Pipeline Designed

N/A

Average Community Volunteers

EL RETIRO’S ENGINEERING SOLUTION

Water

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

EL RETIRO’S WATER CHALLENGE

Prior to their partnership with Global Brigades, El Retiro never had a centralized water system that provided access to the entire community. Years ago, some workers from the community built a small water catchment tank that collected water from two of the community’s strongest springs, directing the water through a plastic hose to 25 homes in the lower-lying area of the community. The water was piped directly from the source to the houses with no central tank for storage and treatment, negatively affecting the quality and quantity of water arriving at the connected houses.

The majority of the families whose homes were not connected to this hose network accessed water from one of the many small streams and springs located throughout the community. Many people walked to the nearest sources to bathe, wash clothes, and collect and carry water for household use. During the dry season, some of the sources dry up, and people had to travel farther away from their homes to access water. Regardless of how they accessed the water, there was no central treatment system and few families treated their drinking water, increasing the risk of contracting waterborne illnesses.

373

Brigade Volunteers

296

Project Beneficiaries

10

Kilometers of Pipeline Installed

10,000

Volume of Storage Tanks (gallons)

EL RETIRO’S WATER SOLUTION

WATER BRIGADES IN EL RETIRO

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
DePaul University September 2012 13 UNC Wilmington December 2012 49
Oakland University December 2012 34 University of Virginia January 2013 14
Wellsley January 2013 34 University of Rochester January 2013 14
Boston University & St. Louis University January 2013 31 UC Berkeley January 2013 13
University of Victoria February 2013 7 Mount Allison University February 2013 13
Wayne State University March 2013 5 Central Michigan University March 2013 36
Washington University at St Louis March 2013 17 Indiana University & Purdue University March 2013 17
UNC Chapel Hill March 2013 23 Stony Brook University & University of Southern California March 2013 16
UC Davis March 2013 13 Tulane University March 2013 24

 

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

EL RETIRO’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Rural communities in Honduras face a number of structural obstacles when it comes to economic growth. Access to credit is limited by physical barriers in transportation and exclusion from formal financial institutions. This exclusion can be the result of a lack of financial literacy, credit history, and land titles or substantial consumer goods to offer as collateral. If community members aren’t able to access these institutions, their only option is to solicit credit from coyotes, or loan sharks, who charge exorbitant interest rates. Additionally, maintaining savings is not a common practice in rural communities in Honduras.

In El Retiro, the average family income per month is estimated to be 750 Lempiras, which is approximately L150 (US $6) per person. The majority of homes are made of adobe. The main form of employment in El Retiro is agriculture on owned land, and the main products that are cultivated are coffee, corn, beans, plantains, oranges, and other fruits. Economic growth faces additional obstacles due to the community’s dependence on agriculture, as its inhabitants’ incomes are earned on a seasonal basis, determined by crop yields, and susceptible to external factors like weather and plant disease.

21

Brigade Volunteers

184

Loans Distributed

26

Savings Accounts Opened

$2,100

Capital Invested

EL RETIRO’S MICRO-FINANCE SOLUTION

The Business Program works to stimulate the local economy by organizing community volunteers around a community bank, or caja rural, which is entirely owned and operated by its members. Focusing on providing access to credit and savings for their fellow community members, its volunteers are tasked with socializing the community bank and managing the funds. The Business Program provides training and support to help strengthen these community banks and stimulate the flow of capital within the community.

El Retiro’s community bank, Unidos por el Desarrollo, was restructured in December 2014 with the support of Global Brigades. The community bank has eight female and fifteen male shareholders who meet in the community center the last weekend of every month. In order to pool their limited funds together, increase the capital available to the community bank, and expand the impact of its financial services, each member contributes a monthly share or fee for which they receive a proportional amount of the bank’s dividends at the end of its fiscal year.

EL RETIRO’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

In addition to working with the community bank, the Business Program provides support and technical skills in establishing anchor businesses that generate additional capital. The goal is to better integrate isolated communities into the local economy and allow for growth. During this process, interested community members receive training to increase their familiarity with business terminology, develop their business administration skills, and promote innovation and diversification in the types of business ventures they pursue.

El Retiro is currently in the process of establishing a new micro-enterprise. The Business Program has started hosting Business Brigades in El Retiro to study the local market in hopes of identifying and developing potential business opportunities for the community.

BUSINESS BRIGADES IN EL RETIRO

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Rutgers University January 2016 21

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

EL RETIRO’S PUBLIC HEALTH CHALLENGE

Many community members in El Retiro lack the resources needed to improve their homes and prevent diseases caused by unsafe living environments. The majority of homes are made of adobe, straw, and mud. Prior to Public Health Brigades, few homes had public health infrastructure. About 30% of homes had latrines, less than 10% of homes had cement floors, and no one had showers or eco-stoves. Such living conditions triggered disease. For example, the lack of hygiene stations has led to high rates of diarrhea and waterborne disease, the absence of cement floors has caused parasitic infection and Chagas Disease, and the lack of eco-stoves has resulted in respiratory problems in the community. Although community members recognized the problems inherent in their living environments, they did not have the economic resources nor the technical knowledge to address them.

364

Brigade Volunteers

EL RETIRO’S PUBLIC HEALTH SOLUTION

Public Health Brigaders from several different universities and the Public Health Brigades in-country team began working in El Retiro in January 2015. Volunteers and staff members have worked with community members to:

  • Identify community leaders and train them to form the Basic Sanitation Committee
  • Increase cultural sensitivity and awareness by working side by side with qualified masons and project beneficiaries
  • Build eco-stoves, latrines, showers, water storage units, and cement floors
  • Conduct educational workshops emphasizing the importance of sanitation and hygiene in the local primary school

To ensure the sustainability of the in-home infrastructure projects, the Public Health Program provides continuous follow-up in the community. It also forms and trains the Basic Sanitation Committee, a community body formed by local leaders which monitors the correct usage and maintenance of the new infrastructure. Clear responsibilities and powers are assigned to each member, making the beneficiaries themselves an even stronger stakeholder in the Public Health projects.

 

PUBLIC HEALTH BRIGADES IN EL RETIRO

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Washington University in St. Louis & Brown University January 2015 17 University of Connecticut January 2015 24
Stetson & Vanderbilt University March 2015 26 Michigan State & College of William & Mary March 2015 20
Vikings Brigade March 2015 19 University of New Brunswick April 2015 28
Carnegie Mellon May 2015 12 University of Texas, Oglethorpe University May 2015 26
Foothill College & Chicago brigades August 2015 45 Oregon State University, UCSB, UCLA, Riverside June 2015 26
Imperial College & LSE September 2015 25 Brandeis University January 2016 18
Washington University in St Louis January 2016 14 Columbia University & Brown University January 2016 13
North Park Vikings January 2016 26 University of Virginia & Johns Hopkins January 2016 25

Local Reference Points

View the map to see the closest volunteer lodging facilities, hospitals, and other relevant points of reference.

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