Veterinary care is not readily available to most Hondurans, and, when it is, prices would make even Americans cringe.
That's the primary reason why the veterinary team organized by Dr. Bill Campaigne of St. Andrew's, Seguin, has been going to Honduras every summer for the past 14 years.
"In the late eighties, I first spoke with a woman who spends five hours after midnight rounding up and herding her 13 animals from the mountains where she lives to our base of operations," wrote Mike Perry, of the team, in his recent report of the summer 1998 mission. "She said that since the mission has been coming to her area, she has not lost one animal, and in each year prior to the missions she had lost many."
The loss of even a few animals presents a great economic hardship to this family, added Perry, as it does to every Honduran family. Prior to the St. Andrew's missions, mortality rates for the area of Siguatepeque, where the team goes each year, were as high as 50 to 70 percent.
Perry reported that the number of animals treated over the years has remained constant - about 4,900, including cattle, oxen, horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, pigs, goats, assorted birds, and an occasional coatimundi.
For this year's mission, donations of vaccines, antibiotics, anthelmintics, and other preparations totaled over $30,000, with generous support from most of the-major veterinary drug companies and many businesses in Seguin. In all, over $75,000 was raised through grants, church and private donations, and fund raisers to finance this year's trip of 40 participants.
The congregation of St. Andrew's also sent a medical/dental team to Honduras, for the 12th time this summer. The team saw between 2,000 and 2,500 patients during the five-day mission. A new outreach was launched this year to the jail in Yuscaran which has 90 inmates.
And St. Mark's, San Antonio, will send a team of 12 to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in late September. Although it is primarily a medical mission, several women on the team have been working with the Honduran women to produce tapestries and jackets for sale, thereby earning their own income.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Two-thirds of the labor force is employed in agriculture, and productivity is low. Problems in the country include rapid population growth, 43 percent inflation, lack of basic services, and 40 pet-cent unemployment. The illiteracy rate is 60 percent. Of the population of 5.6 million, 43 percent are under 14 years of age.
Reprinted from the The Church News, published by the Diocese of West Texas, September 1998.