Dec 30, 2013

Help Fund the Next UNAH Solidarity Brigade to Ciriboya

By Adrienne Pine

I'm helping to organize a solidarity brigade from Jan 7-13 of 30 nursing and med students from UNAH to Ciriboya, and we're in desperate need of financial support, since funding I'd thought I had procured fell through. I'm writing to ask for your help if you have any amount of money to donate, and in spreading the word.

As most of you know, the First Garífuna Hospital in Ciriboya, Honduras was founded by local residents and Garífuna doctors graduated from the ELAM in Cuba including Dr. Luther Castillo, in 2007. Since then it has provided free, first-rate treatment to tens of thousands of majority indigenous people from all over the region?a region (the Gar?funa north coast and the Moskitia) that has historically been totally excluded by the Honduran state in terms of infrastructure, resources, and particularly healthcare. The hospital is truly a community endeavor, with the land and labor to build it donated, and with the diaspora Garifuna community deeply involved as well. In addition, it has received support from Cuba, and from U.S. labor organizations.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the country the neoliberal model is tightening its grip, with public hospitals being privatized and profit front and center of healthcare. CAFTA-DR played a big role in this. For most Hondurans, a serious illness is an automatic death sentence. The 2009 coup allowed for even greater deregulation of patient protections and concentration of healthcare profits, and positioned everyone who threatened them as an enemy. The Gar?funa Hospital in Ciriboya was raided by the military following the coup. Nurses in Tegucigalpa, treating patients who had been beaten up by police and soldiers while protesting the regime, were ordered to turn their patients over to police for "questioning" (violent interrogation) and themselves were threatened for providing care. In this process there was a real radicalization that took place, which I wrote about in an article published this month (available at ). The

re was even an internal board electoral takeover of the country's main RN association by a group of radical resistance RNs.


But despite the radicalization of many urban nurses during the coup, nurses and doctors outside of the isolated North Coast don't have a different model to look to, or a sense that free healthcare is a possibility and a tool for revolutionary change. Although Ciriboya is seen as a direct threat by the ongoing coup government and by health profiteers, its existence and success is mostly unknown among healthcare workers elsewhere in the country.


I have been in Honduras since July, and had the opportunity to teach a class on Culture and Health to 120 RN students at the National Autonomous University of Honduras during the Fall semester. After thoroughly depressing my students with political economic analyses of healthcare for nearly three months, I showed them Beth Geglia and Jesse Freeston's fantastic new documentary film, Revolutionary Medicine ( about the Garifuna people's struggle for healthcare justice. They were so inspired that they immediately started organizing a healthcare brigade to Ciriboya, so they could support and learn from the community itself. It's incredibly inspiring to see them this excited. This is the next generation of healthcare leaders in this country, and if they come out of this process radicalized, I am convinced they will join the Garifuna communities who have already begun the struggle create a different kind of healthcare model for the country. Thirty students have committed to the brigade.

So here's where I'm writing to ask for your help. My students are poor, but much of what they lack in money they make up in resourcefulness. They are willing to make sacrifices to get out to Ciriboya, and several of them have already been organizing to arrange free buses (it's a 17-hour bus ride) and medicine to donate. They'll be sleeping in the homes of local families, and the community will provide the labor for meals. But there are still a number of costs we are struggling to cover?gas for travel and cooking, food, water, paper for all the family health histories they'll be taking down in their daily trips to neighboring communities, and more. I estimate the total cost for a 9-day brigade (including two full days of travel) to be between $5,000 and $8,000, depending on how much we can get donated locally (Dr. Luther's working on that). I am able to chip in $1,000 of my own savings, and we're hoping to get some funding from U.S. unions, but we're still seeking a way to cov er the rest.

I'm available at (011-504) 8821-6900 if you have any questions, and will be on and off email in the coming days (I'm currently in the Moskitia). You can send money to CHIMES ( for tax-deductible donations. Please send me an email ASAP if you are interested in donating that way so I can alert the CHIMES folks- unfortunately their paypal link is down right now but they're working on it so people can send before the year's end, and I am waiting for them to send me a P.O. box for checks if you don't mind it getting grouped in with the 2014 tax year. Or you can send a non-tax-deductible donation directly to me via paypal at (that's AdrienneP backwards- I don't use the email for anything other than PayPal). The third option is to send a check made out to me, Adrienne Pine, to:

Adrienne Pine

5527 Illinois Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20011

Please also send me an email to let me know it's in the mail. Even though I'm not there, it WILL get deposited.I can promise that every cent will go directly to the brigade. I will blog about it (with photos) and ask students and community members to blog their reflections as well, so you can see the results in real time. I plan to also write about whatever organizing results from the brigade  


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