Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mixed emotions - facing violence: UPDATED

Yesterday I went out to a parish zone meeting in El Zapote de Dulce Nombre. I was happy to be able to get out into the countryside again – now that I’m recuperating from bronchitis.

The meeting was well attended and I merely listened. The people hoped Padre German would arrive but I didn’t know whether he’d make it. He showed up – on a motorcycle!

He answered lots of questions, many related to the changes in the parish. He left after lunch but there was more business and the meeting didn’t end until almost two o’clock.

Seven people piled into the pick – four women inside and three guys outside - for a lift to their villages which were on my way back to Santa Rosa.

At the edge of El Zapote several folks came running and asked me if I’d take a woman to the hospital in Santa Rosa, 90 minutes away. She had hacked by her husband with a machete.

That was a no-brainer. Of course.

I didn’t know what to expect but they came and put here with three young friends in the truck bed. The young man who had carried her to the truck was bloody.

I found out that she had been washing clothes near a well when her husband arrived and cut her up very badly with a machete. He was not drunk. Perhaps he was just a jealous husband.

Before we left, I noticed two young kids at the side of the road. They were traumatized. I presume they were her children.

After a few delays, we left. I went as quickly as I could, trying to avoid bumping around too much of the back roads. On the way we tried to contact the police so they could apprehend the husband. As I drove to Santa Rosa I saw a patrol car and a police on a motorcycle heading toward Dulce Nombre.

It’s about a 90 minute trip to Santa Rosa but we finally arrived. One of the security guards let us into a side entrance to the emergency room and he lifted her from the truck onto the gurney.

One leg was broken, her arm had been cut through and her hand was hanging limply.

I waited a bit and talked with the security guard as he was washing up. I commented on his helpfulness. He told me that he had met the woman before since he was from the area where she lived.

I spent the next few hours trying to get word to the woman’s family who lived in a different village.

I couldn’t find the book where I had the numbers of a few pastoral workers from the area and so I called someone from El Zapote whom I respect, asking him to call a pastoral worker from the other village.

He hemmed and hawed and said he something to do and he had to lead the rosary in his village. I told him that the woman was in a serious condition. I was rather upset by his reaction.

He had however mentioned the name of the pastoral worker in the woman’s village. I found his number on my cellphone and called. After a few attempts he answered.

I asked him to find the family and let them know what had happened.

In the meantime the hospital security guard had called his uncle who knew the family to get the word to them.

The pastoral worker in the woman’s home village called and told me that her family knew and that some were on the way to the hospital.

I was relieved, glad that family would be there to comfort and help her. The hospital system is poor here and family and friends have to provide food – and more, at time – to the patients.

As I reflect now, I wish I had contacted the first aid auxiliary in the village before we left. He called me while we were on the way, not upset but concerned for the woman. He also told me that the kids were with the grandmother.

I also wish that I had first aid training. I think we are blessed that she didn’t die from loss of blood.

Violence is high here in Honduras. I don’t know how many cases are like this one, domestic violence or violence within families or between families.

Some of this is, probably related to the frustration hat comes from poverty and from a justice system that is nearly non-existent. (We’ll see if the husband is arrested and jailed.)

Some of this is the lack of skills to deal with frustration. That’s why we need to work to build a culture of reconciliation and learn skills of conflict transformation.

I’m numb now.

Last night I did have a chance to speak with the Spanish Franciscans down the street and with my friend, Sister Nancy, who lies in Gracias. It is great to have people who help me.

Today I’m out to a town with Padre German. It will be good to speak with him about this – and lots more.

I have written more about this experience in a reflective mode on my Walk the Way blog: here and here.

Please pray for the woman and her family, especially the two kids.

UPDATE: Wednesday, July 17:
Padre German told me that the woman had her lower arm and hand amputated and was sent to a hospital in San Pedro Sula for more care. It is also not clear if the attacker has been arrested.
Devastating news.

UPDATE: Monday, August 19
Today I ran across the guard at the hospital who was a cousin of the woman. He told me that she had not had her arm amputated, but they only put in pins. They did that here in Santa Rosa. What good news.
Also, her husband-attacker is in prison.

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