The City on the Hill

Santa Rosa de Copan is located in western Honduras, hours away from the bustling sounds of San Pedro Sula and the capital city Tegucigalpa. It is tucked in between, above, and below rolling mountains. Seemingly untouched by man, these lush mountains offer a glimpse of what this entire region once looked like, and their beauty conjures up hope for its future. These mountains, their highs and their lows, define this city and those that call it home.

Santa Rosa de Copan is a beautiful city. The only thing warmer than its tropical climate is the smiles of its residents. They have welcomed me to Santa Rosa, their city, the place they proudly call home. The cobblestone roads are filled with family restaurants serving local favorites. Walking from street to street you hear different music and become more engulfed in this rich culture. Everywhere you turn someone is selling fresh fruit or buying baked goods. It is an interactive city, alive with breathtaking sights and vibrant sounds.

I arrived in Santa Rosa nearly two weeks ago because of its lows. On the three-hour drive from the international airport in San Pedro Sula I saw what I expected but was not fully prepared to see. How could I be prepared to see people who have been forgotten, left behind, or seemingly tossed aside? Mile after mile, hour after hour, this reality unfolded. Small groupings of shelters, tiny communities, left alone to fend for themselves. I could not help but think that these people must be unhappy. Their condition is so dire and there are no signs of relief. How could they carry on? How could they keep hope alive? It did not take long for me to realize that I underestimated the spirit of these people.

Those that I have met in Santa Rosa are happy, their city is not perfect, but whose city is? I know that the basic needs in this city can be met. The soda industry has discovered how to integrate their product here so I know we can integrate a system that provides the city with clean water. The cell phone companies provide endless options for their products here so I know that we can provide the city with a reliable power supply. The people of Santa Rosa have their beautiful city, with their vibrant culture, and they are happy here. While it is basic necessities that are lacking, complex solutions are required to meet this need. I do not have all the pieces for this puzzle but I am determined to help, because a Santa Rosa with these basic necessities is the Santa Rosa that these people deserve.

Many of the basic necessities that I have taken for granted my entire life have suddenly disappeared. I brush my teeth with mouthwash because the water is not clean. I know that if I get sick or injured I will have to return home because of the lack of medical services. This reality is striking to me; I would have to go home. I do not enjoy this feeling of privilege, to think that I would be able to receive care that others could not, but I know that this is true. What about those who call Santa Rosa home, where do they go?

I am not sure who is to blame for this unfairness nor am I sure that it matters. Every minute spent pointing the finger of blame is a minute not extending a hand to help. Central American Medical Outreach (CAMO) has been extending a hand to Santa Rosa for 18 years. They have taken giant steps to help those that are in need. The founder of CAMO Kathy Tschiegg, is proof that one person can change the world. The dedicated staffs at Fundacion CAMO and INSSA prove everyday that a group of committed citizens can transform their community. Santa Rosa is a city of highs and lows, but I see this city, these people, climbing into the future.

by: Jeff Pelletier
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