Saved by Grace
One Nurse’s Contribution to the Island’s Poor

November 1st, 2009
by Benjamin Roberts

[private]

Ms. Peggy smiles while discussing plans for her surgical and birthing unit on the upper level of Clinica Esperanza.

Ms. Peggy smiles while discussing plans for her surgical and birthing unit on the upper level of Clinica Esperanza.

Sitting in her living room nursing a tall cup of black coffee, Peggy Stranges sorts through files after committing herself to another day of countless favors and acts of sacrifice. Today is Sunday, and while most Roatan residents have spent the weekend relaxing after a long work week, Stranges’ job is never, ever finished. Offering numerous trips to the airport for volunteers, attending a baseball game to support a neighbor, running back and forth to her work to wrap-up loose ends, and now babysitting responsibilities on Saturday and Sundays, the only payment considered is a couple ears of corn for lunch or maybe a few bananas to serve her guests in the morning.

Known affectionately on the island as Ms. Peggy, Stranges’ never intended on offering health care at all. While visiting San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba on a mission trip in 2001, the Ohio native was asked to view Roatan by a friend and colleague. After chatting with a local pastor for a few hours, Stranges decided that she belonged here. In June of 2001 Stranges was visted by her daighter Lori he began “passing out bandaids” to those in need during her two-week stay with Stranges. While seeing-off her daughter and grandson, Nathan, in San Pedro Sula “The one thing that stood out was the great need for health care. What he was saying and what I had been feeling matched perfectly” The transition took six months from living in the United States, packing her things at home and moving to the largest island off the Honduran coast. “I had four vacations a year and drove a Mercedes at home, I was very content” Stranges commented. “But I am totally at peace with what I am doing.”

Dawning a wooden Crucifix around her neck at all times, Stranges faith can be seen not only through her personal attire, but throughout her home and work. Peggy takes this one step farther, calling on herself to act in a manner of Christian ideals always. “If you have to ask if I’m a Christian I’m not doing a very good job.”

Peggy sits and chats with a friend and Roatan teacher at her home only moments away from work which she visited several times during the day, a Sunday.

Peggy sits and chats with a friend and Roatan teacher at her home only moments away from work which she visited several times during the day, a Sunday.

Originally deemed as Project H.O.P.E (Healthy Opportunities Promoting Education), Clinica Esperanza quickly morphed from a small kitchen table in Peggy’s home into a two-story facility that includes a triage center, pharmacy, dental lab, pediatrics office, obstetrics unit, and a general medicine wing. And that’s just the first floor. Stranges plans to add a birthing and surgical center upstairs. “It’s only going to cost about $1 million,” Peggy says with a look of quiet confidence. Ever since Peggy started Esperanza she has relied on the help of others. Whether it be the land which her Clinic is built upon, the unsolicited help of experienced physicians, or simple money donations by friends and strangers, it seems that everyone wants to pitch-in. However Clinica Esperanza has been seriously impacted by the economic downturn and donations to the organization have been cut by more than half

When asked why Stranges had decided to drastically change her life from a RN and dental physician in the United States to now bearing the burden of the Bay Islands largest non-governmental clinic they answer is short and sweet, yet theologically complex. “I don’t do what I do to get a higher place in heaven,” states Stranges. “I’m a sinner saved by Grace.” [/private]

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