On a mission
Forest Park HS grads headed to Honduras for medical aid clinic
CRYSTAL FALLS — When Kelsi Hendrickson and Mary Beth Grandahl do their first mission trip to Honduras in March, they’ll help treat patients who have walked miles for the chance to see a doctor.
“Medical treatment is limited there,” Grandahl explained, “so women will take their children and wait in line for hours to be seen.”
The two Forest Park High School graduates, now both Central Michigan University students, are putting in the nine-day volunteer stint in Central America to broaden their college experience this spring.
They’ll leave March 2 with the non-profit organization Global Brigades, a combined effort by students and medical professionals to bring sustainable health care to areas in extreme need.
Each day, Global Brigades will offer not just medical treatment but dental, vision and gynecology services.
In return, the two CMU students will get experience toward their future careers.
“We will be hands-on with the patients,” Grandahl said. “We wouldn’t get this opportunity until we actually had our medical degrees in the United States.”
Another important aspect of the mission clinic is shadowing the doctor during the patient exams.
“They will ask us our opinions in diagnosing the patients,” Hendrickson said.
The clinic station includes a pharmacy as well, so patients can receive medications from a volunteer after they are seen.
Patients also attend a community charla, or workshop, on key health practices. Along with teaching them proper hygiene, volunteers will pass out toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and other personal care items donated by U.S. companies.
The two women spent months attending meetings and doing research before making the decision to join the Global Brigades’ effort.
“This is a very big commitment and we needed to make sure this is what we wanted to do,” they stressed.
They also had to convince their parents.
“Our parents were very concerned about us taking the trip,” Grandahl said. “They wanted to make sure we were safe, number one.”
They were assured Global Brigades considers the safety of its student volunteers a top priority.
Another fear is contracting an insect-borne disease in tropical Honduras, they said. Before they settle in, a “bug bomb” with pesticides will be set off in the compound and clinic areas.
“They hand out bug spray like candy down there,” Hendrickson said.
They also had a battery of vaccinations before the trip.
The group of 50 will take a bus from CMU to Chicago, fly to Los Angeles and then head from there to Honduras, stopping in Houston while enroute.
“This will be a long trip, but they want to make it as cost-effective as possible, and make sure that everyone that wants to help can do so,” Grandahl said.
They will live in a compound set up with several bunk beds. Along with all their medical supplies, they will bring their own water and food from the states.
The students will push ahead in the next 36 days to finalize plans before they leave.
“It seems like a very long time coming for our trip,” they said.
After committing to the program, they have spent the past few months fundraising for the trip and learning about the culture and was will be expected of us, and also receive vaccines.
Mary Beth is the daughter of Roger and Becky Grandahl of Crystal Falls. She is in her third year at CMU and expects to graduate in August with a degree in therapeutic recreation. She plans to go into physical therapy.
Kelsi is the daughter of Roger and Tammy Hendrickson of Crystal Falls. She is a sophomore at CMU, majoring in clinical exercise science. She will graduate in May 2019 and plans to go on to become a physician assistant.
The girls greatly appreciate any donations that can be made to the cause.
Their next fundraiser is a breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Crystal Falls.
Donations toward the trip also can be made by mail to: Kelsi Hendrickson, 413 N. Sixth St., Crystal Falls, MI 49920; Mary Beth Grandahl, 438 Paint River Road, Crystal Falls, MI 49920.