Today was our first full day in Arequipa. After getting much needed sleep after a long travel day, we split up into our public health groups for the day. One of the groups had the chance to get their hands dirty and build trenches around a new home, another group spent the morning shadowing local physicians, dentists, and nurses at a private clinic, and another group helped make meals to serve to families in the community. Lastly, a group of five students walked through the community with a social worker going on home visits. This was an amazing experience to be able to witness true poverty first hand. All of us were humbled by the kindness of this community despite the many difficulties the people face on a daily basis.
This afternoon we welcomed a Peruvian doctor to the volunteer house to shed light on his experiences in both the Peruvian and Cuban healthcare system. Dr. Manuel was born in Peru, but decided to study medicine in Cuba due to its superior health care system. Being a medical mission trip, it was really interesting to learn his perspective on the problems surrounding medicine in this country. Coincidentally, we (Jack and Annie) were discussing the effectiveness of medical mission trips last night, and it was really encouraging to hear that a Peruvian doctor highly appreciated and valued our efforts.
Before dinner, a very special guest joined us for yet another insightful conversation. Father Alex, the founder of the parish we are working in, came to talk to us about his vocation and work in Peru. It was informative to hear Father Alex’s reasons for the existence of poverty in Peru and how he incorporates both spirituality and action into one mission to assist this community. We are looking forward to more discussions with Father Alex and to continue our public health projects in Arequipa.
Annie and Jack