Nursing Students Develop Skills and Compassion through MaMa Project

Service learning opportunities at Moravian sometimes extend beyond local causes and communities. The MaMa Project offers nursing students the chance to participate in medical care, dentistry, and construction during a week spent in Honduras, said Herman Sagastume, MaMa field director, at an October 21 lecture.

MaMa (which stands for Mujeres Amigas, or "women friends," Miles Apart) began in 1987 as a partnership between Pennsylvanian and Honduran women to address problems causing severe malnutrition in children. Over the past two decades, the program has become co-educational and now accepts 10 to 14 student groups each year. Providing vitamins, de-worming, and other basic essentials, the program fills in the gaps that public  hospitals cannot.

"The lack of resources available here makes you want to return to do more for the people," said Avery Bryant '11, a St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing at Moravian student who participated in MAMA last spring. Bryant pointed out that the entire country of Honduras has only three CAT scan machines in public hospitals. (And only two of those three machines work, Dr. Sagastume noted.)

"We don’t have the medical care you have here," said Sagastume, who grew up in Honduras but now lives in Pennsylvania. Honduran hospitals usually receive new shipments of medication every three to six months and cannot provide for their communities alone. MAMA participants travel to schools, hospitals, and other communities to provide supplemental medical care and medications from their own portable pharmacy.

The program allows students to take on various jobs that can range from distributing vitamins to handing out toys to smiling at young patients. The next SON/Moravian trip is planned for May 2011. "You don't fall in love with the MAMA project," Sagastume said. "You fall in love with the people of Honduras."
—Kelly Fackenthall '12