The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia is honored to send two members of its local leadership to Honduras to participate in a medical mission trip during the first week of February. Major Migdalia Lavenbein, co-commanding officer of The Citadel Corps Community Center in Northeast Philadelphia, and Captain Omar Rolon, co-commanding officer of The Tabernacle Corps Community Center in the Fairhill section of the city, were called upon by The Salvation Army’s Eastern Territorial Headquarters in West Nyack, New York, to serve as interpreters on the trip. The Honduras Medical Brigade, comprised of Salvation Army officers in the U.S. and Honduras, as well as U.S. doctors, nurses, counselors and translators, will spend a week in various villages across Honduras providing much-needed health services, medical supplies and messages of hope.
“The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia is thrilled that Major Lavenbein and Captain Rolon were asked to share their talents with the group during this mission trip,” said A. Philip Ferreira, Director of Operations, The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia. “It’s really a powerful display of The Salvation Army’s care, love and dedication to the well-being of impoverished communities across the globe.”
For almost as long as The Salvation Army has existed, it has operated hospitals and clinics in some of the most needy areas of the world. It has maintained a permanent presence in Honduras since 2000. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America, with a per-capita income of about US $1,880 in 2010. Poverty in the country affects 60-percent of the population, with 36-percent living under extreme poverty conditions. In rural areas, these figures rise to 63-percent and 50-percent respectively. Individuals living in rural Honduras have limited access to potable drinking water, sanitation and healthcare.
The Salvation Army’s Honduras Medical Brigade mission trip is in partnership with staff from The Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical center, and The Raymond Foundation of Ohio. The Salvation Army also works with the Ruth Paz Foundation in Honduras to identify communities in need of assistance. A total of 34 individuals are traveling to Honduras for the mission trip. The group will set up temporary dermatology clinics and pediatric clinics in rural villages to care for local residents who don’t have access to and/or cannot afford to pay for medical care. In 2015, The Honduras Medical Brigade served more than 2,800 people, using $10,000 worth of medical supplies. They also donated 300 pairs of shoes and distributed 1,317 Bibles to local residents.
“The communities suffer in unimaginable poverty. We saw a girl who had walked five hours to see the doctors. She had cancer on her face that was eating away at her bones. The doctors were shocked when examining her. One doctor told me he had only read about this type of cancer in a medical journal. The cancer was far too advanced to be treated. The dermatologists cried when they realized there was nothing they could do to help this child,” Captain Rolon said, recalling his 2015 experience in Honduras. “There is need far beyond Philadelphia. As a Salvation Army officer, I am proud to serve again on the mission trip.”
In addition to managing the daily operations of two Philadelphia Salvation Army corps community centers with their spouses, both Major Lavenbein and Captain Rolon are pastors with The Salvation Army. This will be Major Lavenbein’s first time traveling with the Honduras Medical Brigade.
“People everywhere, whether it’s in our own backyard or far away in Honduras, need people like you and me to extend a helping hand,” Major Lavenbein said. “We all have it within us to make a difference. I go to Honduras with a heart ready to serve.”
Major Lavenbein and Captain Rolon depart for Honduras on Saturday, January 30 and return to Philadelphia on Saturday, February 6.
About The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia:
The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia is a faith-based, comprehensive human service organization whose programs help individuals, families and whole communities lead healthier, safer and more productive lives. The Salvation Army is equipped to respond to both acute disasters such as fires and floods as well as the daily, ongoing struggles of the region’s less fortunate individuals. Since 1879, The Salvation Army has a record of success stemming from its holistic approach to providing for the needs of the whole individual – physically, emotionally, economically and spiritually. The Salvation Army’s programming operates community centers and residential facilities throughout the Philadelphia region offering shelter, hot meals, counseling, early childhood development, recreational opportunities, music programs, after-school arts and educational programs, job training, activities for older adults, spiritual development, and drug rehabilitation. For more information, please visit http://www.SAPhilly.org.