For years Lake Highlands resident Carol Brickell traveled internationally on business. Eventually, her encounters with poverty-stricken populations drove her to seek volunteer work through her church. Three years ago she began regularly visiting a clinic in Honduras where she met the people and the pet that inspired her sweet and colorful children’s book, “Cinco the Clinic Cat”, or “Cinco, el gato de la clínica,” whose sales are bringing in money to help fund medical services in the Honduran city of La Ceiba.

What landed you at this clinic in Honduras?
Visiting so many places around the world, such as India, where there is vast poverty, made me think seriously about doing something to help. I mentioned to friends one night that I would like to help children, maybe not in India, but perhaps a little closer to home, Latin America, for example, where I know a little of the language. Days later, a friend invited me on the mission trip to Honduras and I knew what I needed to do. I have been back every year since.

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What do you do during the trip?
I read and sing songs with the children and give eye exams in the clinic. The eye exams are a big deal because many of them can’t even buy reading glasses. There have been times when I have put glasses on a child or adults and the tears will start running down the cheeks. They haven’t been able to see. This might mean that they can work again.

Photo by Benjamin Hager

And Cinco, of “Cinco the Clinic Cat” notoriety — it he real?
Cinco is based on a real cat that hung around the clinic and inspired the book. A friend at the clinic pointed at him and said, “That’s the clinic cat,” and I instantly imagined this children’s book about a cat that lives in this wonderful, tropical setting. One person advised me to write the story down before I forgot it. On the plane ride home, I sketched out a preliminary mock-up of the book.

Did you ever think you would write a book?
Never in a million years. It was just a flash that hit me.

What is it about?
It’s a story about kindness and the friendship between a little girl in need of a friend, and a cat in need of a home. Like in reality, the cat is a friend and a comfort to the humans around the clinic.

And the book is in English and Spanish — was that a difficult process?
Lali Miles is one of my friends who goes on the Honduras trip every year. She grew up in Honduras and serves as our translator. She initially created the translation. Then I asked two colleagues of mine from Latin America — one from Argentina and one from Mexico — to review the manuscript to ensure that the language was appropriate throughout Latin America. Both are learning and development professionals with small children, so they offered a few suggestions to keep the language simple for young readers. In the end, all three came to a consensus on the final version.

What about the illustrations?
Jim Hastings, who teaches art at Studio Arts Dallas [studioartsdallas.com] illustrated the book beautifully. Children love the images; some adults have bought it simply for the artwork.

How to do you think the book might help people?
I decided that the profits from the book would go to charities, and that became the driving force that kept me focused on ensuring that we completed this project. I loved working on this story, shining a light on the good work that goes on in this tiny little clinic in Honduras. I am pleased to say that I have already been able to make a donation to a medical clinic in Honduras based on initial revenues from the book. The money will pay for medications that the people in this community otherwise would not receive.

“Cinco the Clinic Cat” is available at CincoTheClinicCat.com. There, you can also contact the author for book readings or special appearances. The book is available at My Office (myofficelh.com) at 9661 Audelia at Walnut Hill.