Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, most Olancho Aid volunteers returned home. Here is a post from Jim Walker, one of the volunteers who was forced to end his term of service early.
Olancho Aid Volunteers – Safe and well taken care of in uncertain times!
I made my fourth volunteer trip to Juticalpa in very early March, the United States had few cases of the virus and my state of Maine had zero. As a specialist volunteer in the accounting office there was projects to be done and I had my plans made for quite some time.
With the great joy and resolve I have with each trip, I went to Juticalpa. Seeing all my friends in the office and community was great. I had my favorite baleadas from Alex down the street from my apartment. They get better and better with each trip.
A new volunteer, Tommy Krug, wanted to see the short cut I had found to walk to Nazareth. We had a spirited discussion as we walked the narrow busy streets. I introduced him to a Honduran who hand makes all kinds of shoes. The shoes are shipped all over the world. Tommy’s Spanish was good enough for them to have quite the discussion. You see while volunteering we have ample opportunity to meet and interact with the community. It is part of what I enjoy so much.
Unfortunately, the situation in the United States began to deteriorate very quickly. In Olancho Department there were no cases of the virus detected. Even though we all felt safe, the Olancho Aid Foundation leadership team decided we should be isolated and seek flights back to the U.S. while tracking the U.S. Embassy, Honduran and Olancho Department government directives. Eventually, we agreed to be relocated to a less populated area of Honduras that had the ability to get us to several airports directly.
I report this because as a volunteer, by our handbook and by OAF leadership, we were assured that an emergency evacuation plan was in place prior to accepting a volunteer position. What was very comforting was to see how quickly and decisively it was adapted to our current situation.
I am home in Maine now. Today I finished my 14 days of isolation and I am feeling good. The volunteers during this term have stayed connected and supportive. All of us volunteers are saddened our work has been cut short but are resolved to complete our mission’s work.
No one knows what the future may hold. I hope, on my next trip to Olancho Aid Foundation in Juticalpa you will be one of the volunteers that share in wonderful volunteer experiences. Make sure you try the Baleadas by Hospital Trochez Montalvan – Barrio Las Flores if you get there before me. They are the best!
– Jim Walker