I’m comparing and contrasting America and Guanaja. It’s more of a contrast however, most people here live completely different lives from the average American. That’s not necessarily bad though, it’s more good than bad. The people here don’t have the technology or the money that most of the people in America have. You would think that’d make them upset or angry, but no. I’ve spent a total of two weeks of my life in Guanaja and the first day I was here it was so obvious that the people here are so much happier than anyone that I know back in the states. It’s really interesting to look at that fact too. People in the U.S. are hell bent on material possessions and always having the newest things to avoid being judged. Here if it works who’s going to judge you? Everything in the U.S. is so blown out of proportion that after a while we think it’s important. Mental illness is also a big issue back home. It’s somewhat normal for someone that you know to commit suicide sometime in your life. The last person in Guanaja to commit suicide was 24 years ago, and the people here remember every single detail about it because it shook the community.
It’s just something about this place, it’s so crazy going from what I’m used to, to here. Last year I asked my guide Pablo had he ever thought about moving from Guanaja and he said “no man, why would I need to, we have the best food, the best people, the best fishing, and the most amazing views” and he made such a great point. From someone that doesn’t have the things that I do, he’s happier than a lot of the people I know. Possessions don’t make people happy, they’re happy to just be here and breathing.
Jacob Parris Guanaja Week 3
TODAY WE WENT TO THE NEW HOSPITAL. ONCE WE GOT THERE I WAS PRESENTLY SURPRISED ON HOW NICE AND CLEAN THE BUILDING WAS. IT IS PERFECT. THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB FOR OUR GROUP WAS CLEAN ALL THE EQUIPMENT AND THE BUILDING. WHEN I SAW THE BUILDING I INITIALLY THOUGHT THAT THE HOSPITAL WAS REALLY CLOSE TO OPENING BUT WHEN I STARTED TO CLEAN I REALIZE HOW MUCH WORK WAS NEEDED IN THE HOSPITAL TO GET OPEN. ALSO WHEN WE WERE CLEANING THE POWER WENT OUT. THE POWER WENT OUT BECAUSE THE HOSPITAL DOESN’T HAVE ITS OWN GENERATOR. THE POWER COMPANY ISN’T RELIABLE AND HE POWER GOES OUT A LOT. SO IF THE HOSPITAL CAN’T AFFORD A GENERATOR THEN LIVES COULD BE LOST. WITHOUT POWER MOST MACHINES WON’T BE ABLE TO FUNCTION AND THE DOCTORS CAN’T PREFORM. FISH FOR CHANGE IS GOING TO BE A HUGE FACTOR INTO MAKING THIS DREAM A REALITY.
THEN A GUY WAS RUSHED ON A STRETCHER. HE HAD NASTY BURNS ON HIS HANDS AND FEET. IT LOOKED LIKE HE WAS GOING TO LOSE HIS HAND. IT LOOKED LIKE SOMEONE PUT A FIREWORK IN HIS BOOTS AND THE BLEW UP THROUGH THE SOULS. THE GUY WORKS ELECTRICAL AND DIDN’T HAVE GLOVES FOR SAFETY AND HE TOUCHED THE LINE AND GOT ELECTROCUTED. IF WE WEREN’T AT THE HOSPITAL AT THAT MOMENT THAT GUY MIGHT HAVE NOT SURVIVED. WHEN HE SHOWED UP EVERYONE ACTED AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE TO TRY TO HELP. THIS MOMENT WAS A PUNCH IN THE MOUTH ON WHY THERE NEEDS TO BE A GREAT RUNNING HOSPITAL ON THIS ISLAND. THIS HOSPITAL WILL SAVE LIVES AND STRENGTHEN THESE COMMUNITIES.
According to what little I remember from Freshman Year Bio smell is, of all the senses, one of the strongest triggers of emotion and memories. This makes sense as I can associate many smells with strong emotions and meaningful experiences. I’ll always remember the mix of fish and sweat that permeated the air when I got my first fish. That memory of that smell will always instill a sense of fulfillment and happiness. On the other hand, the memory of the smell of my Grandfather ashes, dry and ashy, will always bring an air of sadness to me. Today, for the first time in my life, a memory associated with smell will not bring sadness or nostalgia but motivation to make the world a better place. Today, in the midst of the “opening” of a hospital in Guanaja Hounduras, a man who had been severely electrocuted was rolled to the door of our unfinished hospital. The smell of his burning flesh filled the air as I and many other fish for change students scrambled to search for medicine in the dark. As horrible as that smell was, it will forever remind that even in the face of the most horrific challenges, there is something I can do to help people. Without the medical staff on hand to give pre-hospital care, that poor electrician might have died. It’s easy to see, from a purely rational, unemotional perspective why a hospital would help the people of this island. However many horrible things happen in the world daily and gaining motivation to deal with small issues can almost feel fruitless. When you are faced with something in person, talk to the people about their near-death experiences, the abstract idea of helping can turn into people you know and lives saved. Every time I make a phone call or post about raising money for that hospital, I will remember that smell and it will help me to remember the small changes I can make in this world and the people I can help.
Yesterday down here in Guanaja we had a situation we will all remember for the rest of our lives. This week one of our service works was helping get the hospital open, which will be the first ever Medical center on the island. Before hand, if someone got hurt or there was an emergency, you would have to scramble around the island and find someone to take you to Roatan... which is two hours away, only accessible by boat AND has to be during the day. Steve Brown (the owner of fish for change) and a partner of his have funded and built this hospital. So, Today we started cleaning the rooms and organizing all the donated equipment... dusting them off, organizing meds, etc. Then all of a sudden the power shuts off. Which was no big deal and we continued to work in the dark. About 30 minutes had past and then there was a siren and faint yell. That’s when chaos let loose. In comes 3 men carrying another man. We had no idea what was going on. I personally thought they were testing out efficiency in a real emergency. However, Everyone was yelling and we could tell this guy was in extreme pain. The little room started to fill up with locals as everyone was trying to figure out what was happening. I began to take in the smell of burnt rubber and flesh. Once he was on the table shouts from all directions were yelled to get bandages, water, an IV, etc. So all of us sprinted into the pitch black rooms and began scrambling through all the unpacked supplies. After about 30 minutes he was transported to Roatan. He had been electrocuted trying to fix the power outage (thus being one of the only buildings w electricity). God was truly with us & him because if that had happened 2 hours before we got there the doors would have been locked, and he could have lost his life. We have not gotten an update but we suspect him to survive, however loose his right hand, and his right foot. This really showed us how needed this hospital is. We are starting a fundraiser to raise money for a generator. Which is needed to open the doors. The sooner it’s open, the more lives saved. Help us save these people.
Guanaja is an island with 10,000 people and no hospital. All medical concerns and emergencies require an evacuation to Roatan or the mainland of Honduras, which is often impossible.
After his first fishing trip to Fly Fish Guanaja, Matt Narawki saw the desperate need and funded Guanaja’s first hospital through Food for the Poor. Matt is a Fish for Change hero and board member.
The hospital is built, but more is needed to open its doors and maintain. We’ve been in meetings with the local mayor, doctors, and the amazing people from Clinica Esperanza in Roatan to discuss what it will take.
Fish for Change students, the nurses from Roatan, and Mirella the local doctor opened the hospital a few days ago to clean the place and organize medical supplies, also funded by Matt Nawrocki through Project Cure. We started sweeping, mopping, washing walls, and moving the new equipment.
30 minutes into our work the power went out. The fans stopped, the rooms darkened and we continued our work with sweat soaking into our clothes.
Just after we mopped the first floor, dusted off the first roller bed, and opened the first boxes, there was a panicked commotion outside the hospital. Villagers were unloading a man from a taxi who was severely electrocuted while working for the power company. Our first patient had already arrived, and he was in bad shape.
The team of medics, who just happened to be there, went to work immediately. Students went scrambling for buckets of water, gauze, tape, bandages. We tore through boxes in the dark using lights from our phones. We found enough supplies for the nurses to bandage and IV the guy with fluids. We helped carry the stretcher into a truck that drove him to the boat ambulance, that took him Roatan. He lost his hand but we probably saved his life.
Our goal this week was to discover what the hospital needs to open. We learned at this stage, it needs a generator. The power company in Guanaja is very unreliable, and apparently dangerous too. The hospital can’t open without a generator, and there is no immediate funding coming from the government or anywhere else.
Fish for Change Week 4 students are going to make it happen with a social media, story-driven fundraiser. We are just waiting for a quote on the generator from San Pedro Sula.
This initiative will save lives in a beautiful place, and we know we can make it happen.
Today we fished the north end of the island. The water was crystal clear, the wildlife was plentiful, and the landscape was stunning. The only thing holding back the paradise status is all the trash everywhere. It’s hard to find beach on the island that isn’t. This scenario is the same in many different parts of the world and guanaja almost represents that. It like much of the world has natural beauty that is tainted by human actions. As a part of fish for change we don’t just fish the island but we change it as well. Yesterday we helped plant mangroves and picked up trash, living up to the name we’ve given ourselves. While our contributions didn’t end pollution or global warming, it was change nonetheless and I think that every little bit helps the situation.
Sounds of a mountain
The constant sound of the wind is all consuming in the jungle, like a natural white noise machine. The wind has no predator on the island and everything is it’s prey. It affects everything on the island. The trees on the island bend to it. I’m not the only one here, there are plenty of animals talking as well, especially the birds. The chirping is second to the wind in terms of all consumption. It really does sound like all the birds are talking to one another all at once
In most touristic destinations, there exists an invisible wall between the “locals” and the “outsiders”. The relationship between the two is purely pragmatic and unemotional, one side offers experiences and services for which the other exchanges for monetary compensation. I’ve found that things in Guanaja are extremely different. In my first couple hours on the Island I attempted to observe people’s interactions who had been here before, part to see what I should do and part to see what I could learn. As soon as I arrived on the dock, I saw the faces of both the anglers on the boat and the guides on the dock light up. They greeted each other with jokes and hugs and proceeded to ask about each other’s wives, families and lives with genuine interest. In the following days I would see why they seemed so close. My hours on the boat with Edwin and Rankin would be filled with not just casual conversation but joking, talking about life and genuinely trying to give each other a good experience. The connection was fully illuminated when I asked Edwin if he “liked guiding” and he said with look on his face of pure joy “hell yeah brother, it’s so beautiful out here”. The toothy grin he gave me was so unforgettable that even a week later, I, a very forgetful person, remember it like a life changing event. It was evident from that simple response that Guiding was not only something he used to feed his family but also something he found extremely enjoyable. Although many people do not envy the conditions of the island, I hope one day I can find a job as fulfilling as Edwin. The point of Fish for Change is beyond simply fishing in exotic locations and doing some community service after. It’s about making genuine changes and connection within the community. During our community service, we see the other side of Guanaja, we see many of the staff’s homes, families and daily lives. By attempting to help them, not from a place of condescension but of understanding, we can grow and learn things ourselves. One example of this is the hospital we are attempting to open. The hospital will be beneficial to all residents of Guanaja however it will be most beneficial for parents and their children. No matter where on earth you live or how much money you have, the love and concern parents have for their children stays the same. When someone’s kid is sick it does not matter if it’s a millionaire client coming for vacation or someone who lives on 200 limperias a year, help is on the mainland. The feeling of helplessness the person feels as a sick or injured person attempted to be evacuated transcends everything. By sufficiently funding the hospital we can remove this possible tragedy for natives and tourists alike.
Today we learned about the conservation of guanaja. We learned that there were only about 300 of the yellow napped parrots left. These parrots only live on guanaja and can only survive with a type of tree on guanaja. Hurricane Mitch wiped out most of their species and poaching has taken most of these birds from the wild. People poach these birds to sell them, mostly to the Caymen Islands.
We also learned that all sea turtle are very endangered. They are so endangered because of poaching, and most of the eggs being born are female because of rise in ocean temperature, and development. If a sea turtle sees even a light on a beach where they would normally nest they won’t go there. This is all incredibly sad and it is all caused by humans.
Next, we learned about what the mangroves do for our planet and how much deforestation is hurting it. Mangroves not only are the nursery for all the fish we catch but they are also very important to our environment. They help trap Co2 from getting into the atmosphere and help stop climate change.
These are important issues for all of us because we have to share the planet with these creatures and plants. Not only that but these animals were here first and should not be destroyed by us.