Alternative spring break changes life of BASH grad

Submitted photos    
Anna with several school children at the first clinic where she helped teach them about dental hygiene. This was one among many of her tasks throughout the day.
Submitted photos Anna with several school children at the first clinic where she helped teach them about dental hygiene. This was one among many of her tasks throughout the day.

A weeklong trip can make a lifelong difference.

That statement couldn’t be truer for Anna Yanisko, Douglass Township resident, who decided to spend her spring break on a medical mission trip to Honduras.

The Ware Institute for Civic Engagement partners with CARE (Central American Relief Efforts) to mobilize aid volunteers from the United States into Central America.

Eleven students, including Yanisko, traveled to Las Cascada for one week, March 11 to 17, to participate in this life changing mission.


This mission, organized by The Ware Institute for Civic Engagement at Franklin and Marshall College, initially came to Yanisko’s attention through an e-mail sent out by the school. She was immediately intrigued and decided to dig deeper to found out more about the opportunity.

Students were prepared for the conditions and lifestyles they’d be exposed to prior to the trip — particularly relating to poverty.

“You hear people talking about it, but bring in the middle of it is a completely different experience,” said Yanisko, who had never before traveled to Central or South America. “It was a completely new environment and complete culture shock.”

After a day of getting settled and getting to know one another, the students were loaded onto buses with medics and volunteers and made their way the up the mountains to the clinics.

In reference to that particular experience, Yanisko stated, “there’s nothing like that in the world.”

The students worked kept busy in the C.A.R.E. clinic by taking blood pressure, then delegating the people to the doctors. Medications were provided to those in need; eye and dental stations were set up.

Helped 528 people/3 hours.

“This may be the only health care they get in a year,” said Yanisko, referring to the towns in the mountainous areas. During that week, the clinic helped an average of 430 people a day and a total of 1366 people; reportedly the highest average for the program so far.

On the fourth day of the mission, after their assistance in the clinics, the students visited a Honduran hospital to see the wards and structure.

“It’s nothing like U.S. hospitals—except the health aspect of it. There are different regulations.” Yanisko was able to shadow in emergency room and observed an ankle reconstruction surgery which involved plating and screwing. “I loved it,” said Yanisko. “Then we walked through NIC-U, which was the saddest part of the trip for me.” She stated that due to the high rate of teenage pregnancy, a lot of babies had been abandoned.

The mission trip also included a visit to an orphanage, “we brought piñatas; the kids there never get played with. It was a very unique opportunity.”

Yanisko stated that she kept a journal every day of the trip and took hundreds of photos. She is currently trying to organize a way to send neo-natal medical supplies for those lacking such supplies.

Shortly after returning to the United States, the group of students gathered to discuss their feelings and the transition of returning home.

“Since I got back, I think about it at least once a day. Coming back to the United States somehow became a bigger culture shock. In Honduras—everyone is welcoming and genuine, so friendly,” said Yanikso, mentioning electronics and the constant rush of day-to-day. “Since I’ve been back, how much we actually have here is still settling in. I have more appreciation for what I have; it changed my perspective on how we live here.”

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” said Yanisko, referring to the medical mission trip.

She plans to pursue health care, either at home or abroad. Her alternative spring break has solidified her passion for it.

As a 2010 Boyertown graduate and a current junior at Franklin and Marshall College, Yanisko is in the process of looking at various Physican Assisant schools.

About the Author

Rebecca Blanchard

Rebecca won't hesitate to tell you that she has enjoyed writing throughout her entire life. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she graduated from the professional writing program of Kutztown University in 2012. Rebecca joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in July of 2012 as editor of The Boyertown Area Times following her internship with the newspaper. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling and cooking gluten-free foods. Reach the author at or follow Rebecca on Twitter: @boyertowntimes.