Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
How can you help?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Communication and Individualized Planning

I started off the last blog post talking about how much communication means to me.  We all look at things just a bit differently...which is great...I get tired of talking to myself all the time!  When people disagree with a blog post, I don't get mad.  I'm just glad people are reading! I am even happier that people feel comfortable enough to respond.

In my most-recent post I talked about why our mission more frequently engages women than men. The reasons I gave were fairly simple, and I summarize them as follows:

1.) There are more opportunities for men than women to join the paid economy in Honduras.  As a result, men are more often unavailable to attend clinics/seminars
2.) Because of greater opportunities for men as paid employees, men have greater access to regular nutrition and medical care and so may have lesser need for our clinics/seminars.
3.) Due to an imbalance of power between men and women in Honduras there are high rates of violence against and murders of women

I attempted to write about these three issues in a way as to not alienate my audience. I used two examples of women without loving and providing men in their lives to highlight particular and, quite frankly, very common examples. I did so acknowledging that we know of a mountain of men who function quite to the contrary. In writing the last post I aimed to help us do our jobs better by highlighting the fact that many of the issues we are trying to overcome can be linked to machismo in government, business, and the home. I still maintain this to be true. 

One of the finest examples of male leadership

Why I'm writing today is in response to a comment by CHIMES' own Bud McKinney. You may know him better as “The Pirate” or that guy who always seems to be in Honduras when your're there! I know him as a friend. Bud knows one of my main goals in blogging and in mission work in general is to maximize our positive impact. He knows I want us all to do our jobs better so that we encourage real change sooner rather than later. So I was overjoyed when Bud wrote to me and said:

      “On our last team to Limonales, we made sure to expressly stipulate on the radio that men would be welcomed and would be treated first so they could get back to work quickly and the turn out was large. And when you see a block building remember that men built that, and while they were building that they missed the clinic.”

What a simple solution to a complex problem! It never occurred to me that increased opportunity in one part of life could limit opportunity in another.  Communication wins again!  Honduran men, like men in many parts of the world, have greater opportunity to go out and work for pay than do their female counterparts. The pleasure of earning precious Lempiras for their families, however, limits male access to many of the services we provide as missionaries. 

The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative helps Honduran communities overcome those overlapping issues limiting self-determination.

If our goal is to serve an entire community, then, we have to shape our mission work in such a way as to be available for the whole community. In other words, we have to be aware of how opportunity and wellness go hand-in-hand. The value of plain and simple preparation cannot go underestimated.

We also cannot essentialize the extremely complex situations we encounter.  I look at things from a gender perspective, but it is not the only lens from which to see reality. Hondurans will have a particular and valid point of view.  Each team sees things differently, and it takes a village of viewpoints to imagine the most effective solutions. 
If we all work together to etch away at our particular area of focus, eventually the masterpiece of a brighter future for more Hondurans will be born.  As volunteers, let's continue to focus our attention on maximizing our own opportunity to make a positive impact in Honduras, and let's also prioritize increasing the opportunities available to ALL Hondurans! 

Together, we are the difference.


  1. WOW! I have learned something today! As I read, I rembered being in Honduras and treating mainly women. When male patients did come to clinics, they were hurried not by us as missionaries but by themselves and their families. My eyes have been opened as to why. Thanks Bud and Michael for helping me to understand.

    1. Thanks, LoArch! Bud really helped me realize how much diversity in mission is required for us to do our job right. Maybe you can join a team next year and be in charge of the male clinic!