Pre-trip to Pranza, Gracias a Dios

Pranza 4

Leaving today and this weekend, a MEDICO medical-dental team will make its first visit to the community of Pranza on the Honduras-Nicaragua border.

Pranza is a small place in the Department of Gracias a Dios in eastern Honduras, located along the Rio Coco, the river that forms the border with Nicaragua. Pranza is in an area informally known as La Moskitia, after the indigenous Miskito people who live there. It is one of the poorest rural areas in Honduras. There is almost no public infrastructure and little health care available outside Puerto Lempira, the largest town in the Department, many hours distant from Pranza.

How do we get there? Well, after an international flight to San Pedro Sula, we drive for 3 hours to La Ceiba, where we take a small plane another hour to a dirt strip in Puerto Lempira. Click here to watch the plane landing in Puerto Lempira). We then load onto the back of 4WD trucks for the 3-hour trek to Pranza. There is no cell reception other than possibly via a network from Nicaragua. When we asked, no one in the community seemed to even own a phone.

It took months of planning so MEDICO could bring much needed medical and dental care to the people in this impoverished corner of the world.

The community is excited about our arrival and are working together with us to make it a great week of service. Zulema is the local nurse. She works alone in a tiny clinic building, the only medical help in this entire area.  Zulema is devoted to her community. When our exploratory team visited Pranza a few months ago, she was out tromping around out in the bush, carrying a backpack full of vaccine as she searched for families who needed it. She’ll be helping us organize patients. The community will loan us their church building as a clinic site. The pastor will be helping us register patients and his wife will be cooking for the team. Elena and Genely, Honduran nurses from Puerto Lempira, will be with us to translate, distribute medications and teach community public health classes.

Our visit will be near the end of their dry season, so the river will be lower than usual. This is the time of most illness in Pranza. Surface water sources will have dried up and people are forced to drink directly from the river.

Who are we? A doctor from North Carolina. A nurse practitioner from Illinois. A couple dentists from New York and Missouri. Nurses from Alaska, Nevada and Maryland. In addition to our clinical team, we’ll have construction experts to help upgrade Zulema’s little health building, volunteers from Washington, Virginia and another Alaskan! Then, of course, there is YOU, because none of this happens without your generous support. Every dollar you send we put directly into the work we do. We buy as many supplies as possible locally. We treat, we teach, we train. We hope to leave Pranza a bit better than it was until we can come back.

Thanks for being there with us.

The MEDICO volunteer staff

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