We started our day bright and early by heading over to the orphanage in Cusco. Today was our first day that we would be offering a medical and dental clinic to the boys at this orphanage and to women from the local women’s shelter. Each student was assigned to one of many stations to help throughout the day. Stations included: registration, triage, dental assistant, dental sterilization, dental education, pharmacy, and medical shadowing.
The day started off slow, but chaotic as everyone learned the flow of patients and how all the different stations worked. All the children were full of lots of energy and nerves as they waited to see the doctors and the dentists. They especially loved playing with all of us students and trying to get as many toys as they could. However, almost all of them were afraid to go to the dentist and took a lot of coaxing and handholding to cooperate.
In the dental clinic, most of the kids were terrified. When they walked in they usually would ask if it was going to hurt, or if we were going to take their teeth. However, with the promise of toys at the end, we were able to get most of the kids through the clinic. Due to their general lack of oral hygiene, many of the kids had severe problems for their age. Many teeth were extracted, cavities filled, and calculus build up removed. Also, since we are in Peru, and the children do not have adequate health records, we were unable to use general anesthetic for any of the procedures. Because of this, many of the children had to struggle through the procedures with only local anesthetic.
In the medical clinic, we saw many children who only had very minor health problems. However, what was the most difficult part about the medical clinic was hearing the children’s stories. Many of the boys come from abusive families, while many of the girls come from stories of sexual abuse and sex trafficking. It was incredibly heartbreaking to hear how much these young children had gone through. What struck me most about them, however, was how resilient they were and how quick they were to smile and give you a hug. There courage, humility, and joy remind me why I want to go into medicine and into pediatrics.
Tomorrow we will host more local children from different orphanages. We are all so excited to spend more time with these amazing people. We hope to help them and learn from them as well.
Leah and Will