J-Term students provide vital care in Honduras
The newest service-oriented study tour at Carthage opens students’ eyes to the massive health care needs in some of the world’s poorest areas.
Nursing director Nancy Reese and professor Rachel Martinez led a group of 12 students to Honduras for a whirlwind week in June 2023. There, the Carthage contingent joined forces with local health care providers to assist more than 800 patients over four days.
In conjunction with the nonprofit World Gospel Outreach, Prof. Reese introduced students to a medical mission she’s completed 17 times. Setting up a portable clinic at various churches in Tegucigalpa, the Central American country’s capital, the brigade provided medical, dental, and pharmacy services.
“The cases we see are astounding to students,” she says. “Many of the patients had never seen a doctor.”
The College’s mission to Honduras returns in January 2024 and could remain an annual J-Term offering. Additional destinations are under consideration.
Carthage consistently has one of the nation’s highest participation rates for short-term study abroad, with groups fanning out to more than a dozen international destinations each year. Like the well-established tours to Nicaragua and South Africa, this one has a distinct service component.
Although caregivers arrived fully stocked with vitamins and pain relievers to hand out, the supply quickly drained. Residents lack both the money and access to refill prescriptions or even buy over-the-counter staples.
Students returned with a newfound sense of gratitude for the resources that Americans often take for granted.
“This trip reignited my love for caring for the vulnerable,” says nursing major Elizabeth Eck ’25. “In Honduras, I felt like I was fulfilling my purpose.”
The new study tour naturally attracts students with health care aspirations, but all majors are welcome. Besides helping at the clinic, the group washed children’s hair — applying medicated shampoo to treat lice if needed — and supplied water filtration for two families.
“One of the most powerful things I learned in Honduras is to remain faithful through whatever hardship is thrown my way in this lifetime,” says Azu Whigham ’24, a graphic design major who served as the study tour’s unofficial photographer. “The daily life of a Honduran citizen is very difficult, yet they seem to have a very deep sense of spiritual connection.”