Howell joins her grandfather on mission trip to Honduras
Posted September 20, 2012
By Caitie Connor ‘13
Last summer, Webb junior Rachel Howell of Estill Springs, Tenn., traveled to El Paraiso, Honduras, on a mission trip with Butch Howell, her grandfather, and others from his church, Hope United Methodist, located in New Port Richey, Fla.
Howell and church members spent the seven days with Honduran children, offering a weeklong Bible study class and lessons on proper dental care. After giving the kids individual fluoride treatments, Howell noted that she could “probably count the number of kids without a rotten tooth on one hand. Seeing that amount of rotted out teeth makes me resent how much I hated going to the dentist when I was their age.” She added, “The Honduran children were grateful for everything we gave them, whether it was a simple hug, a free toothbrush, or their afternoon snack we provided. They have so little, but they are truly the happiest children I have ever met.”
While much time was spent with the kids, Howell and the group also volunteered at a local eye clinic in El Paraiso. They administered eyesight tests, using an auto-refractor when necessary to estimate a prescription level for the patient. They would then find the closest match in the inventory of 1,000 donated glasses. Every patient, regardless of treatment, would receive a pair of sunglasses, a hat, and a Spanish Bible.
A common problem in Honduras is pterygium, an abnormal growth on the eyes because of dust, smoke, and sun exposure. Earlier in the spring, Howell introduced the cause to the Webb community by organizing a service project to collect used sunglasses and hats, which both prevent the development of pterygium.
A major cause of pterygium in the Honduran people can be attributed to their stoves. Being wood-burning, the smoke and soot linger inside of their homes, leading to eye and breathing problems. Howell and the group built more efficient stoves, with chimneys that successfully keep smoke out of the house, to give to the Honduran people.
Commenting about a woman she visited, Howell said, “With her new stove we built, her entire family breathes better, including her grandchildren that live with her, she is able to make more tortillas and use less wood increasing her profits, and her kitchen area is a million times less hazardous to her health.”
Howell commented that she “especially enjoyed being able to go to Honduras… I will share that experience with my grandpa forever.”