Rachel has been on several trips with us and is an active volunteer with our #HealthSquad. She was very instrumental in our latest Johnson and Johnson campaign for clean water in Remolino and she got to be there to help tell the news! Read on to hear about why she is so passionate about partnering with us in Honduras.
How did you hear about Humanity and Hope?
I researched organizations doing work in Honduras because I always had a dream of going back to my birth country in a volunteer capacity. About four years ago I had plans to travel with a different organization, but it didn’t work out. Then I saw Ben’s post about Humanity and Hope and I looked you up on Instagram, sent an email, and Riley got back to me and shared about H&H’s mission and vision and the sustainable change, which really drew me in.
Why did you choose to come with us?
The May 2019 trip, the first Health Trip, was my third trip with H&H. I decided to go for two reasons. Because I’ve been working with the Health Squad for the last year, and I know that in order to come up with sustainable solutions for the people in Honduras I needed to see and experience first-hand the obstacles of health that they are facing. Even though I’m trained as an MSW in social policies and communities, I wanted to understand more of their needs so I can use my macro-problem solving skills effectively in my work for the health squad. Also, my first trip with H&H was a life-changing experience, and since then, I’ve wanted to stay connected with the people in the communities and H&H staff in Honduras. I want to do all I can to continue to support the mission of sustainable change in Honduras.
What was the most eye-opening thing you saw or experienced in Honduras?
The lack of access to physical and mental health care that we are so fortunate to receive here in the U.S. I never really realized how challenging receiving health care can be for so many Hondurans. We learned on our trip unless you have cash in hand you can’t even be seen at the hospital…this was so shocking to me, because even if someone is homeless on the street and had a medical emergency in my hometown of Philadelphia, the hospitals are legally obligated to see everyone and try to treat their emergency and save their life, a situation that I’ve seen and dealt with as a social worker.
Lack of resources for healthcare also hits me hard because of my personal history of being adopted as a 4 month old, very sick Honduran baby. I had been born premature, and when my adoptive mom first saw me at five-weeks weighing less than five pounds, I was struggling to survive. The Honduran Social Services Agency was willing to place me for adoption with an American nurse, who they believed could nurture me to health. I remained in the orphanage, but failed to thrive. As soon as she could, my adoptive mother was able to come stay in Honduras, complete the adoption, and immigrate me to the United States. For awhile, as a child I struggled with health issues, asthma, and allergies. I don't want any other baby or child to lack the health care access to reach their full potential.
Rachel’s favorite part
My favorite part is always talking with the people in the communities, learning about their lives and how we can pray and be a support to them. Also meeting my sponsor student Nora, that so rewarding! (photo below)
Any advice (or encouragement) you'd give to someone who is thinking of joining us on a trip?
Sure, if you’re thinking about it - DO it! Take the leap of faith, step out of your comfort zone. You have no idea how much this trip will change you…you will come back a different person then before you went! In a good way. You have an opportunity to give to others but you will also receive.
How has your trip impacted your daily life post trip?
During my first H&H trip to Honduras, I was between jobs and I was struggling to know what God was calling me to do next in my life. What I didn't know was how much an impact the trip would have on me as I discovered Gods love and plan he had for me all along, and that he was preparing the work for me to do next in my life.
I know it was important for me to see first hand, the basic human needs and the positive outcomes that sustainable change projects can have on peoples’ lives. We do not choose our birthplace nor the conditions we are born into, and I may never know exactly why God spared my life in 1987 or allowed me to experience the conditions I was born in. But I do know I want to do all I can to help provide the same kind of opportunities for others in my birth country, especially for teen moms and those lacking basic healthcare access that we are so fortunate to have in the United States.
I believe it is our calling as individuals to love our neighbors and to demonstrate love by doing all we can to be the agents of change in our communities and the world. We must refuse to accept obstacles and inequities as status quo; We must become the movement to make the change we want to see. There are so many ways to have an impact. Now I know that it's not one person's responsibility but everyone's to create the change needed. So I'm a do-er, and I invite you to join me in this effort so every child and their families can have opportunities and their dreams fulfilled like I did.
Tell us about your current involvement with H&H
I am currently co-sponsoring a student, Nora, through the education program’s monthly donation, but I would love to host a fundraiser in Philly sometime. I also have a passion for running, so I was thinking of getting together with other H&H runners and recruiting a team to do a charity race maybe in 2020?
We love those ideas, Rachel, and have loved having you in the H&H family! If you’re in Philly, make sure to reach out and connect with Rachel!!