Water for a “Dry Corridor” Hospital
by: Jerry Eickhoff
The Hospital of the South, in Choluteca, Honduras, is a place where the poorest of the poor in southern Honduras go for care. They face many challenges providing adequate service to the region, which include: serving a population of over 300,000; delivering more than 7,000 babies per year with limited space and equipment; having a solitary X-ray machine that is 60 years old; serving thousands of patients with all types of medical conditions…and having no potable water! Imagine that if you can.
The “Dry Corridor” of Honduras runs along the southwestern border of the country, from Nicaragua, up along El Salvador into Guatemala. The parched desert-like conditions, brought on by severe drought and temperatures routinely in the low 100s, exacerbate the water availability problems for the hospital.
HOI was fortunate enough to be invited to work in this area by three of the leading corporations in the region. Our community development efforts in several villages ultimately led us to the needs of the hospital. A first heart-breaking visit was all it took to motivate us to get involved and establish a partnership. Witnessing the maternity ward, where each bed had two mothers, two babies, no sheets, no pillows, and no running potable water left us highly motivated to help where possible.
As is our standard for approaching situations like this, we solicited the counsel of the hospital staff, our corporate partners, and the local HOI team to find the best way to provide support. Our primary objective has been to engage the hospital in a way that would be catalytic for the development of additional local resources. This hospital building, built over 100 years ago, has 18 inch thick walls, so any rehabilitation work is a major undertaking. The Citizens’ Hospital Oversight Committee (CHOC), which is in place to ensure proper planning, stewardship, and prioritization of improvements, with a keen eye towards effective employment of resources, was involved early in the discussion.
Although the needs for this hospital are too numerous to name, at the top of the priority list is drinkable, parasite free water. The overall project to drill a new water well, install the pumps and electrical controls, and add distribution lines anchored along the walls to every department, was estimated at over $150,000 (U.S.). The CHOC had already begun raising money for the distribution system. HOI asked for a specific proposal for the well, pump, and controls, which is the life-blood of the system.
This estimate, with three competitive bids, came in at $22,500. After much prayerful discussion within HOI and with the CHOC, HOI decided to make a matching grant of $11,000 to drill the well. This effort would not start until the full amounts were committed locally for the additional $11,500 of needed funds. The entire hospital management group enthusiastically embraced this solution.
On Thursday, May 11, a delegation led by HOI Country Director Jose Mondragon, attended a ceremony at the Hospital of the South to present the funds. We had been assured that the matching funds had been secured, so they could start the project. In attendance were representatives from the hospital and Citizens’ Committee; our three local corporate partners: Agrolibano Foundation, LUFUSSA, and Chorotega Foundation; local dignitaries; the HOI representatives; and four television stations.
Jose did a masterful job of representing HOI, challenging the local leaders to quickly get the water flowing, and thanking all who made this grant and process possible. As with all of our projects, we remind people that this water will sustain life on earth, and the Living Water provided by God’s Grace will sustain us all for eternity.
It was emotional for me to see God use Jose in this mighty way to help bring healing water to the hundreds of thousands of residents where he was raised. It was especially gratifying to know that the Chairman of the CHOC, Luis Marcia, was Jose’s teacher in high school in Choluteca. What a proud moment for them both. It was heart warming to have Jose’s son, Francisco, in attendance, to see the influence his father has for the good of the Honduran people.
Ultimately, we want to thank you, our generous supporters, for making the funds available to provide these focused types of highly leveraged matching grants that will bring health and healing to thousands. God is good, all the time.