I just returned from a very illuminating trip to Central America and wanted to share with you some of my experiences. I see how much work there is to do and where Spirit of America can really make an impact. I visited one of the more remote villages in the southern part of Honduras, a region where the population lives in extreme poverty due to criminal organizations, drug trafficking, and street gangs. Youth are constantly recruited into these illicit organizations, and medical aid has diminished due to corruption scandals in the health care system, leaving little hope for local Hondurans. I was very humbled by my experience and I learned a great deal by interacting with the locals in the region, allowing me to understand some of the underlying causes of vulnerability.
During my travels, I had the opportunity to meet a special security police unit that displays passion and motivation to help their people. This elite unit is called the TIGRES and they train in the mountainous region of southern Honduras. Due to the negative local perception of the police, the US military, local police units and the TIGRES have joined together. As a team, their goal is to build confidence and trust with local residents, and aid them in healing and restoring the communities to a better way of life.
One of the area’s greatest needs is medical aid. Thousands of locals in the region are suffering from untreated diseases and viruses. A US civil military team along with the Department of State organized a medical outreach initiative that provided medical attention for locals who needed it most. The event was held at the home training facility of the TIGRES, and locals were invited to come receive life-saving health care. Over 20,000 people attended the event and for most, it was the only way to receive medical attention. Some of the services provided were general medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, dentistry, psychology, gynecology, pharmacology, legal assistance, preventive medicine education, and hygiene services. Refreshments, toys and school bag donations were also available at the event.
Additionally, the US advisors and the Department of State’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau joined together to create a first responder medical training program. This program certified the TIGRES medics as instructors for over 60 Honduran National Police students, providing training and equipment for officers in some of Honduras’ most violent areas. This training certified officers in high-risk areas as emergency first responders and will allow the police to conduct medical procedures for injured police officers and civilians. This capability will ultimately improve relationships and perceptions of the Honduran National Police with the local population.
With an event like this, where the local community was already acting in their own best interest, it was clear that SoA joining in the effort would result in a stronger impact. By assisting in providing these critical medical services, SoA’s input was simple but effective. Spirit of America supported the medical outreach effort by donating medical first responder training kits and equipment for the TIGRES medics to properly assess locals during the initial screening process. With the help of your donation, we provided ace bandages, stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, and IFAK kits. This equipment was crucial to the event, and will be used for future medical assessments and training programs. After speaking with the director of community relations, he mentioned that the events would not have been successful without the help of SoA’s donation.
Because of your generous donation, Spirit of America was able to supply the medical equipment needed for the security forces to properly treat the vulnerable population in Honduras. Thank you for your support in helping build an effective solution to countering these criminal organizations. With your support, the TIGRES are steadily restoring confidence within both the local government and population for the long term.
Latin America Field Operations Manager