Honduras

Capital: Tegucigalpa

Official Language: Spanish

Population: +7 million

Government: Constitutional Democracy

Currency: Lempira

Exchange Rate: approx. 23L to 1USD

ZIKA VIRUS?

Hello Brigaders! 
Here is a message from our chapter advisor

In anticipation of your upcoming Brigade to Central America we wanted to provide you with information relative to the presence of Zika Virus in Central America, which you may have been hearing about in the news. We encourage you to take the time to review the material posted by the Center for Disease Control in the included links below:

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/…/not…/alert/zika-virus-central-america

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/disease-qa.html

The virus is spread by mosquitoes, and it is recommended that those traveling to Central America take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites (i.e. bring insect repellent and long sleeve clothing). All lodging rooms have window screens installed, however as an added precaution we encourage volunteers to bring mosquito nets. The attached handout from the CDC contains helpful information and suggestions on mosquito bite prevention.

Global Brigades staff will be taking extra precautions as well. All staff will carry ample supplies of insect repellent for volunteers to use. In addition, all lodging facilities will be fumigated before volunteers arrive.

Only 1 in 5 individuals who are exposed to the virus become ill, and the illness typically only involves mild symptoms which are treated with rest, nourishment and other supportive care. The Zika virus poses the greatest risk to pregnant women and, per the CDC, women who are pregnant or who are trying to get pregnant should consider postponing travel to any country where Zika transmission is ongoing.

TRAVEL WARNING:

The U.S. State Department does have a travel warning on Honduras which has been active for the past several years. However, we want to assure you that both the University of Illinois and Global Brigades takes safety very seriously. Before Global Brigades even enters a community, the GB Research and Evaluation (R&E) team assesses safety and secures the support of community leaders. Furthermore, brigadiers are accompanied while in community by a Global Brigades technician, 3 Global Brigades translators, Global Brigades drivers, and multiple security personal. The Global Brigades Technicians are equipped with communication devices in case of an emergency. Most other staff members also have cellphones. Brigadiers also stay at night in a secure compound along with their program coordinators with multiple armed guards from the Honduran National Police. 

Safety Standards on Global Brigades - Honduras

On January 13th, 2016, Global Brigades experienced a tragic accident for the first time in its 14 year history. We have included a message from the CEO of Global Brigades that was sent to each chapter president.

Dear Global Brigades community,

Four weeks ago, our Global Brigades family suffered a terrible loss. Three Columbia University volunteers lost their lives and several more were injured as the result of a bus accident during their Medical Brigade. In the days and weeks following the accident, our focus as an organization has been on supporting the volunteers and families affected by this tragedy, and we will continue to support them in the months ahead. 

 
Over the past month, we have also furthered our commitment to brigade safety everywhere we travel. As we move forward, our staff will continue to take every possible precaution to keep our volunteers safe, by instituting new safety protocols and reemphasizing existing procedures, including the following:
 
  • All Global Brigades entities are working with vendors to install seatbelts in all vehicles that are not manufactured with them (i.e.: larger buses), with the goal of having all brigade vehicles equipped with seatbelts as soon as possible. 
  • Global Brigades Honduras will no longer be using the road where the accident occurred. 
  • All Global Brigades entities are assessing all roads upon which volunteers are transported on brigades, and will be vigilant about not transporting volunteers on roads that are very steep and poorly maintained. 
  • All Global Brigades entities are conducting additional trainings with all drivers, including GB staff drivers and hired drivers from transportation vendors. 
  • All Global Brigades entities will be conducting additional vehicle inspections of all brigade vehicles, both GB-owned vehicles and hired vehicles from transportation vendors. 
  • All vehicles will undergo frequent inspections by a third party, and separate inspections by Global Brigades transportation staff, prior to use on brigades. Global Brigades is engaging a third-party consultant to complete a safety assessment of all operations in Honduras, Panama, and Nicaragua. 

On your part, it was deeply touching to see the vigils held in solidarity with the Columbia University Global Brigades chapters. Your support for the Columbia members of the GB family will serve as a lasting memory of the deep empathy and love felt around the world in the wake of this loss. To commemorate the lives of Abigail, Daniella, and Olivia, Global Brigades Honduras is constructing a memory garden at the Posada Azul compound. We are also establishing scholarship funds in their names so that their legacies live on through the work of future brigade volunteers. 

 
Though we carry this heavy loss in our hearts every day, we are unwavering in our commitment to the work that the Columbia University brigaders and the entire Global Brigades community has set out to do. We thank you for your efforts to carry our shared mission forward. 
 
In service,
Steven Atamian
CEO and Co-founder
Global Brigades
Accommodations

Global Brigades has 7 different compounds in Honduras. Most are located in the central region of the country while one is located in the south. Each compound is equipped with running water, bunk beds, and a dining facility. Each brigades is assigned a compound based on the proximity to the community they will be working in.  In January 2016, brigadiers stayed in the El Censo compound in the El Paraiso department two hours away from the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Located in the middle of a sugar cane field, the compound has a wonderful view of the mountains.

Brigadiers also get to experience traditional Honduran food throughout their trip. Global Brigades is accommodating and can provide vegetarian and vegan options upon request. 

Although it was not on the forefront of my mind. I knew that as a vegetarian, I would not be eating the same types of food or have the same culinary experience as my fellow brigadiers. However, I was surprised by how much work and effort was put into making sure everyone was fed. My brigade stayed at El Censo simultaneously with 3 other brigades. I still felt immersed within that aspect of the culture - the food. There was always a delicious vegetable laden alternative packed away for me and my fellow vegetarians. My favorite part of the cultural food exchange was being able take part in it, that and the juice. If you are ever in Honduras, try the juice. It is life changing.