La Moskitia is an area split between Honduras and Nicaragua and is home of the Miskitos indigenous minority. In the Honduran Moskitia, 75% of the population live below the poverty line. Women and children are the main victims of the sanitary emergency: 77 out of 1000 children die because of diarrhoea, malaria, tuberculosis and malnutrition. This rate of infant mortality is comparable to those of Ghana and Uganda.
There is a total lack of infrastructures, medicines and medical assistance. The only hospital is in Puerto Lempira, the capital of the Dipartimiento de Gracias a Dios. There are two surgery rooms but unequipped for most of the surgeries needed by the population. Most of the Miskitos live in small rural communities far away from the hospital and most of these communities do not have a “Centro de Salud”. Only the luckiest families can rely on small 15-horses-offboard boats but even with those boats it can take many hours to reach the hospital. This is a major cause of maternal-infantile deaths. Another major cause is that there is no disease prevention at all and no monitoring on pregnant women as well. La Moskitia is very inaccessible. As a matter of fact it is reachable only by plane or by boat. There are no roads that connect it with the rest of the country. Water is the predominant element in the life of the Miskitos. Naturally it is a mean of survival but it is an enemy at the same time. In fact, Honduras is the first exporter of red lobsters in the USA and most of the business is run in this area.
Rich businessmen form the islands of the bay send their ship in Puerto Lempira to collect people wishing to be employed. Their equipment is old and not sure while divers are pushed by the perspective of gaining more money to go up and down the waters of the Caribbean without paying attention to their health. The result is that the rate of men suffering the Decompression Syndrome, that naturally lead to a paralysis and therefore to the inability to work, is very high and the government doesn’t provide any kind of assistance for them nor their families.
Another problem of La Moskitia daily sanitary emergency is the lack of drinkable water. In fact in the region there is only one purifying water plant which mainly serves only the area around Puerto Lempira, leaving the rest of the population in need and more subject to get related diseases.
In September 2007 the General Assembly of the United Nations ratified the ÒDeclaration on the Rights of Indigenous peopleÓ. The Declaration was voted against only by four countries, Australia, USA, New Zealand and Canada, where the biggest communities of Indigenous minorities, the Aborigines, the Native Indians, the Maori and the Inuit, live. I therefore decided to start a long term project on Indigenous minorities willing to reach those who are facing different problems across the planet and to narrate their way of living, focusing on the main struggles regarding the respect of their rights as human beings and as indigenous people.
This project was realized on behalf of IMAGINE Onlus. Since 2007 IMAGINE Onlus is working in urban and, especially, in remote rural areas, home to the many indigenous minorities – such as the Miskitos, who are too often prevented access to essential services – to enhance their health centers and train local health staff. At the Puerto Lempira Hospital, IMAGINE Onlus has improved the treatment and care of some 40,000, including 1,400 women and 400 children, building or renovating a Department of Neonatology, a Department of Internal Medicine for women only, a new delivery room and has completed the connection to the solar panels system that can provide electricity to the entire hospital 24/7.
Honduras, august-september 2008
Exhibitions (Rome, Tegucigalpa, Genoa) / Charity evening / IMAGINE Book Cover – 2008-2010