Volunteer Reflections: Dr. Pepper | Cusco 2016

Dr. Anibal Pepper and his wife, Anita, recently traveled to Peru for two months. During this time, they visited family and friends, as well as volunteered to do mission work throughout their stay. The following reflection was written by Dr. Pepper about his time working in the “forgotten communities” outside of Cusco.

"Only two hours from Cusco, on a road that ascends to an altitude of 4,000 meters in the Andean highlands of Anta, we arrived at the indigenous community of Huamancachonan. It is one of the forgotten pueblos of “Profound Perú”, where we found extreme poverty and a small poorly maintained medical post, stocked with next to nothing. The malnourished children were hungry and sick with parasites and/or respiratory infections, which had become chronic for lack of adequate treatment. We had two doctors, a nurse, and my wife, Anita, who helped with whatever was needed, and distributed the bread and bananas we brought with us. They were like gifts from heaven. We had a backpack of medicines, mostly “samples” and some “generic drugs,” which my Cusqueño colleague said “are not very good, but better than nothing.” We had two stethoscopes, some tongue depressors, and I brought a blood pressure cuff, flashlight, and otoscope. We saw a 50-year-old patient with typical pneumonia, showing all the signs that Peruvian doctors learn to recognize, and that I still remember - Bingo! We had 18 capsules of generic ampicillin, and hopefully some “Virgin of the Highlands” will produce a miracle."

"We brought two soccer balls and two volleyballs for the children, who received them with big, happy smiles. We attended about 30 patients, and most of our treatments were only symptomatic; we did what we could. When we finished, a group of women brought us a plate of boiled potatoes to thank us. That was when Anita started to cry and I had a lump in my throat. As we left, rain and hail fell, turning our high altitude road into a river, and I think even the priest who came with us was praying"

"It was an unforgettable experience. We left, heartbroken, and with the promise to continue to help the Clinica Belen in Cusco and their medical posts in the 'forgotten communities.'"

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