In a small, two-room space in French Cay, they are mostly mothers, women whose children were born with a disability and are in need of treatment, constant exercise and behavioral therapy. There are also adults, most often amputees and diabetic sufferers.
It all started in 2007 with a blind three-year-old boy from Mud Hole. Wilson Mejia had travelled to Tegucigalpa for eye treatment, but his family soon realized that travel to receive his periodical treatment would be too expensive for them to handle. As no help could be found on Roatan, INFRANCNOVI (Franciscan Institute for Teaching of Blind) got involved and helped to organize a community based organization RBC (Rehabilitación Basada en la Comunidad – Rehabilitation based in Community). The RBC clinic has been helping parents help their own children to get better.
“It is similar to CRILA [a rehabilitation center in La Ceiba],” said Vania Gonzalez, an UNAH student who volunteered doing her professional internship at RBC. Gonzales uses exercise technique to help children regain mobility and improve concentration skills.
The clinic helps children as young as one-year-old that are treated for meningitis and hyperactivity disorder. The oldest patients are in their 70s, and an eighty-one-year-old Doña Indiana came all the way from Santa Elena (St. Helene) for rehabilitation work. Many of the adults are diabetic sufferers who had their legs amputated. To help them in getting prosthesis and teaching them how to walk again the RBC Clinic hosts twice-a-year visits from Santa Rosa de Copan CAMO organization that provides custom made prosthesis.
For the patients without their own transportation a seven person bus, donated by the Roatan Municipality, picks-up patients twice-a-day from West End to French Harbour, then two days a week, they go to pick up patients as far as Oak Ridge.
Dr. Dominguez at the Roatan public hospital makes the determination if a patient can benefit from the therapy. If they are, RBC asks them to make small contribution to the clinic: adults pay Lps. 100 per session; children pay Lps. 50 per month. “If they don’t have the money they can still come, we just don’t charge them,” says Reyna Rodriguez, the RBC office manager.
A year ago in December the RBC moved from a tiny space in French Harbour. Now the center occupies a two room space at the French Cay’s VOM Clinic – a clinic that functions every few months accommodating medical volunteers from US. The VOM are permitted to use the space free of charge paying only the electric bill.
In their July 31 Maraton, RBC raised around Lps. 100,000 for operational costs. Anacaribe, a Coxen Hole customs broker agency, is the most ardent supporter of the group donating monthly Lps. 8,000 for the clinic salaries and upkeep expenses. [/private]