Sandra lives near San Pedro Sula Honduras, and was born with a dislocated hip. Because she grew up in a place that had little to no access to specialty healthcare, she had problems walking since she took her first steps. As she got older and more mobile, the issues only grew worse. As a child, Sandra didn’t want to go to the beach because people always stared at her, and often laughed at her. Sandra felt ashamed of how people reacted to her presence, and felt like an outsider because of how much trouble she had walking.
Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America with an average salary of about $2 a day. 60% of its people live in poverty with 42% in extreme poverty. Many Honduran people don’t have the same health care access that those in the United States are privileged to enjoy. For these Hondurans, arthritis can mean life in a wheelchair, if they can afford it, or in a bed.
For Sandra, despite her enormous disability, not working was never an option. Sandra has worked since she was nine years old, first in clothing factories and later as a hotel maid. She was fired from the hotel when she could not climb stairs due to her walking issues. As she’s grown older, her condition caused extreme, almost unbearable pain and she had no choice but to live with it.
Tragically, Sandra’s husband was murdered several years ago in Honduras when she was just in her late 20s, and she has been essentially unable to provide for her four children. She went to great lengths to find visiting medical groups who could help her, but Sandra was passed over in previous years for surgery and told her condition was too complicated to ever be fixed.
In March of 2018, Sandra had surgery with Operation Walk Carolinas to fix her hip issues. Since her surgery, she is walking normally for the first time in her entire life and on her way to recovery. In the weeks following her operation, she sent a video to her medical team as she climbed stairs with tears in her eyes, something she could never do normally before.
Sandra says that besides the relief that she will soon be able to work and support her young family, she is experiencing a happiness she has never felt before.