Nursing student makes trip to Honduras to help those in need

by Bradley Hartsell / bradley@newnan.com

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Over 1,300 people live in “The Dump,” a landfill which people are forced to live in extreme poverty in the capital city of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Jerrell says. 


Does “The Dump” sound like a place you want to live? Probably not, right?

Yet more than 1,300 Hondurans live there in the capital of Tegucigalpa, where the local government doesn’t even recognize those living there as people. It’s as close to hell on Earth as there is. Jaclyn Jerrell, a student at the Chamberlain College of Nursing in Atlanta, went with a group of 13 in March for a service project trip to Honduras. The group provided health care services to “The Dump,” working in clinics that have been established to provide some measure of medical relief to a group of people who are far too poor to seek medical care for themselves.

Jerrell, a former Newnan resident, didn’t know what to expect but says she went into Honduras with an “open mind.” Despite her anxieties about being thrown into an unfathomable situation, Jerrell found she was capable of performing everything she was taught in school, and she alone helped nearly 100 people a day, suffering from afflictions ranging from malnutrition to dehydration to parasites.

While in Honduras, Jerrell blocked out the overwhelming emotions that come from seeing how certain parts of the world live. She had to, or else she’d lose focus on why she was there in the first place. She pushed the conditions of “The Dump” to the back of her mind and just did her job.

“It was very eye-opening to see how people are disregarded as trash,” says Jerrell of those living in “The Dump.”

“It was very influential on me.”

Jerrell trudged on for the three days she was there, taking pride in the work she and her group were doing. She even witnessed a colleague save a young girl’s leg. Jerrell recalls moments like those when it feels like real good is being done in a broken, hurting place.

After it was all over with, Jerrell let herself be emotional about the conditions of Honduras. It didn’t deter her from the harsh realities of the medical field, however. The trip strengthened her resolve, and at less than two years away from graduating, she is not only forging ahead with her nursing degree but she plans to periodically return to Honduras to help again.

“[The trip] gave me a different perspective,” she says. “I appreciate more what I have. I just want to give back and never forget the people I met in Honduras.” There are some who might not be able to look at “The Dump” and see hope. They might feel cynicism, like everything is beyond their control.

But then there are people like Jerrell, who see a chance to give back and realize that just doing a little can help a lot when the right people make an effort to effect change.



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