Honduras is a country well known because of high poverty, crime and homicide rates. Many Americans wouldn’t travel to the Central American country because they would feel unsafe, but Dr. Jim Haines is not like most Americans.
The Zionsville optometrist, his wife, Julie, and son, Jack, went down to Honduras on a mission trip sponsored by the Volunteer Optometric Service for Humanity.
Haines said a total of 21 optometrists from 15 different states as well as one from Germany and one from the Netherlands went on the trip to help provide eye care for Hondurans.
“We had a total of about 65 people total,” he said. “The rest of the people that went on the trip were just volunteers, which were needed for crowd control, working the dispensary and registration table.”
Haines said the group was in the town of Tela for four days of clinic time and a three days of free time.
“They had arranged for an elementary school to be the site of our clinic,” he said. “So, the school was closed for the four or five days we were there. The school had dirt floors throughout most of it, no air conditioning or heat. We had to convert the classrooms into exam rooms by putting black trash bags on the windows.”
Haines said that there would be armed guards outside the gates each morning.
“We were guarded by the army because Honduras has one of the highest crime, poverty and homicide rates in the world,” he said. “Security is a very big issue there. Our leaders were very good about telling us to watch where we go at night and to not go into the town. Fortunately nothing ever happened while we were there.”
Julie Haines, who accompanied her husband on a trip to Cuba in 1999, said the biggest difference between the trips was safety.