When we bought Coral Vista 1 early last year, Mary and I decided that we wanted to reinvest some of the rental proceeds in Roatan. So on our annual Roatan vacation last summer, we asked Mark Flanagan from Roatan Life Vacation Rentals, the company that manages our property and takes care of our guests, to take us around to some local charities so we could learn more about them. We wanted to understand what they did, how they worked and, importantly, we wanted to be comfortable that our donations would actually find their way to the people of Roatan.
We've already written about a few of the charities we visited in our post on Roatan Education. And while the effort to help Roatan's children by surrounding the clearly inadequate public education system with before- and after-school programs was very compelling and absolutely worthy of financial support, one organization we saw stood above the rest.
The Clinic of Hope: Clinica Esperanza
It has a Spanish name, an English name and a name by which most people on Roatan know it: Miss Peggy's Hospital. Almost legend at this point, Clinica Esperanza began in nurse Peggy Stranges' kitchen. It moved to the apartment in the basement of her home, then a church and now it operates from a free-standing building in Sandy Bay - between Roatan's capital of Coxen Hole and the tourist areas of West End and West Bay.
Miss Peggy's provides low-cost to no-cost health care for the people of Roatan through a variety of services including a walk-in medical clinic, a women’s health center, a pediatrics in-patient hospital and birthing center, as well as an adult and pediatrics dental clinic with support from a laboratory and pharmacy. The Clinic also provides outreach clinics, community health education programs, and school health screenings. It is supported financially by volunteers, in-kind donations of medications and supplies and financial contributions to Bay Islands Community Health Association, a US-based 501 c3 non-profit incororated to facilitate tax-deductible contributions to the Clinic.
Even a Roatan Vacation Paradise Needs Hope
We've been to Roatan many times now. We land at the airport. Sometimes we rent a car. We drive to Eldon's/Plaza Mar and buy some groceries. Then, we go on to West End and unload at the house. For the following week or two we enjoy the weather, the diving, the restaurants and the activities. And during that time, we never see Roatan from the perspecitve of the 65,000 people who call it home (not including all the expats).
But if you are truly from Roatan, you don't experience the island in 7 day chunks. You don't arrange your schedule all year long to only enjoy Roatan during a visit. No, if you're from Roatan, you do everything there, like go to the dentist, for example. That is, you would if there was a dentist. Same with a doctor for check ups, and more importantly, for emergencies. As a tourist, the reality of these most basic of health care services on Roatan is really hard to imagine. You need to see them first hand, and when you do, you understand the name of Miss Peggy's clinic and why it is so critical to the people of Roatan.
We've been lucky to spend enough time on the island to get a glimpse into this reality. That's why we donate a portion of our Roatan vacation rental income to Clinica Esperanza every month. Peggy and her staff, together with Dr. Cherington and the stream of volunteers who make the Clinic a reality not only provide a critically important service for Roatan, they run the organization in a professional manner that has convinced us our donation matters.
For more information on Clinica Esperanza or to make a donation, click here.