2017 Peru Mission Campaign Recap
This year marks the 7th consecutive year of the medical campaign in Cusco, Peru. This year, our team of medical doctors, eye doctors, nurses, and helpers operated a free 4 day clinic in a plaza known as Parque Cachimayo in the district of San Sebastian. Typically, we have the sub-specialty of Physical Therapy as part of our team as well, but schedules wouldn’t permit our PT brethren to join us. As a result, we expected a jump in the number of patients seeking eye care compared to last year.
As one of our long time campaigners noted, this trip is almost like a family reunion for many of us. Folks we have grown to know and love as brothers and sisters through the work we do, the lives we touch, and the experiences we share. In a unique way, we are pretty sure that these are the “good old days” that we always wish to acknowledge while we are living them.
A few words about our clinic site: the mission team outdid themselves this year with our facility. In the early years of our campaign, our clinic was held in a large church building that the church leased for use. Over the past 2 years, we were forced to set up outside in the open air, which makes dilating patients’ eyes infinitely more miserable. This year, however, we were once again inside, which makes so much of what we do that much easier. We had easy access to shaded areas, easy access to power outlets for our equipment, and the ability to keep most of our glasses and supplies stored safely overnight. Aside from a brief unexplained area-wide power outage on Wednesday morning, we had very few problems. Logistically, the 2017 campaign was much smoother than any we have run, and a lot of thanks goes to our wonderful facility. Check out the walk-through video below to have a firsthand look at our clinic site.
The optometry team was staffed with some of the best volunteers around. As you may remember from last year’s recap, we have an assortment of non-medical campaigners that have learned how to make our clinic run efficiently. One big addition to the team this year was our former intern, Claire Mowrer. Claire did an outstanding job learning our system, managing patient concerns, and properly treating diseases. Upon graduation in May 2017, Claire will work with Dr. Williams and Dr. Pulliam at Bessemer Family Eye Care. We are so happy to have her on our team, both in Peru and as she starts her career with us.
Not only do we have the chance to give the gift of sight during our annual campaign, we also have opportunities to share the gospel with those we come in contact with. The mission team that has been established in Cusco for over 8 years has done a wonderful job showing compassion to the people of Peru, investing in their lives, and telling them of God’s grace toward man. We hope and pray that the seeds that were planted will one day lead to many putting their hope and trust in God. We don’t always see immediate fruit from our labors during the campaign, but each year we return, we meet a few more people who have become Christians as a direct results of the medical campaign, and we give God all the glory for leading them to Him!
Our most memorable patients:
- We saw one patient who received a corneal transplant in his left eye almost 50 years ago (it was in remarkably good shape; most transplants do well to last a few decades).
- One little girl had fallen on a toy 5 days before coming to our clinic, and the wound had begun to abscess (we were able to treat her with topical and oral antibiotics).
- More than ever, we saw countless patients with severe astigmatism. This unique refractive error of the eye causes headaches, tired eyes, and visual distortion if not corrected properly with glasses. Unfortunately, most of the glasses in this common prescription were distributed in the first 2 days. We are actively looking for options to work with labs to order more glasses for donation for next year’s trip in this most needed prescription.
- Probably the biggest smile we saw during the week was when this young lady received her first pair of glasses ever! Look how happy she is! She is just one of countless Peruvians who had never owned a pair of glasses that they so desperately needed.
For the week, the optometry crew saw 1,094. General medicine saw 761. That’s a total of 1,855 patients cared for in a 4-day span.
Rainbow Mountain Day Hike
We had the chance to spend the day hike with the 2 main missionaries that we have worked with over the past 7 trips to Peru. Barton Kizer and Gary Reaves have done a wonderful job planting a church in Cusco. We are so grateful to have had a small part in helping the work there.
Our destination was the Rainbow Mountains of the Andes mountain range. After a 3:00am wakeup call, we loaded a bus to travel about 3 hours to the hiking site. According to our tour guide, the summit elevation was around 16,470 feet above sea level, but if Google is right, then it was more like 17,060 feet. Regardless, there was very little oxygen up there!
The views were spectacular. We always remark about how pictures and video can’t do it justice, but here’s a sampling of what it looked like from above.
And probably one of the scariest bus rides back down the mountain we’ve ever taken.