A Multi Team Mission to Peru: November 2013
The team arrived in Peru 3 weeks before the Thanksgiving Holiday and left in time to rejoin their families for the traditional rituals of giving thanks and counting blessings. The 32 members some from as far away as Australia and England, formed 4 teams, worked at 9 different locations, saw 1890 patients offering free medical and dental care. Each team member experienced the gift of giving back.
TEAM 1: 10 members of this team visited one of the most remote areas of Peru that Quechua Benefit has ever seen. The narrow dirt roads often found the bus seemingly suspended over canyons dropping more than 1,000 feet to the silver ribbon of a river threading its way below. When the canyons gave way, a surreal plain of giant rock monolith’s appeared like an ancient stone forest protruding from a moonscape of dark brown clay and ichu grass.
This mission was to the very heart of alpaca breeding in Peru and ended up in towns named Corani, Quelcaya and Aymana where Quechua was the predominate language. The doctors often spoke to patients through an English/Spanish translator who spoke to the Quechua translator who spoke to the patient and then listened as the process was reversed. When Alonso Burgos was told where we visited, he remarked that, “you have seen the end of the earth”.
This trip was unique in several other ways; 1) it was sponsored and paid for by Bear Creek Mining Company of Canada who are in the process of building a silver mine in the area. 2) Bear Creek has also partnered with Quechua Benefit to create an alpaca selection program called the Corani project that will utilize EPD’s to select breeding stock. Mike Safley accompanied the team and spent several days selecting 40 breeding males for the projects Plantel herd. 3) AOBA helped raise funds for this part of the mission to deliver disaster relief to the Corani area breeders who were at the heart of the freakish winter freeze that killed 30,000 alpacas and put many of the breeders lives at risk. The fundraising effort was conducted as a part of AOBA’s National Farm Day and was augmented by a grant from the German Alpaca Association (AAeV). All told they raised more than $7,400 and the team delivered more than 1000 warm garments and 1,000’s of antibiotic pills to ward of the after effects of the bone chilling cold.
TEAM MEMBERS: Dr. Dwight Bailey, Dr. Rhonda Deschner, Dr. Jim Anderson, Dr. Rachel Brauner, Ursula Munro RN, Bill Beranek, Mario Garcia, Patricia Gillotin, Cor Kester and Alejandro Tejeda
TEAM 2: 12 mission members set up shop in the Snowmass medical clinic and spent 5 days seeing 864 patients that either walked or were bused to the clinic from surrounding towns by the participating municipalities. This team featured Obstetricians, Pediatricians and Dentists.
This is the second year that a clinic was held onsite at the Snowmass Health Center and it allowed another opportunity for the local population to visit Casa Chapi and see the children and their life and care at the project in person. As Casa Chapi has become a successful reality the local community has embraced Quechua Benefit in a way that we have not experienced before. The local Municipality of Chivay recently funded the finish work to the upstairs of the clinic turning it into 2 large guest rooms, 2 staff apartments, a sitting area and 2 restrooms. These improvements will allow CASA Chapi to offer accommodations to folks who want to volunteer at the Children’s Village.
TEAM MEMBERS: Dr. Wayne Jarvis, Dr. Ed Fannon, Dr. Rebecca Levy, Dr. Megan Moran, Dr. Penelope Heyward, Joyce Kester RN, Shellie Clark RN, Jenny Lou, Kylee Thompson, Julie Safley, Katherine Safley and Sue Whitrow RN
TEAM 3: 8 mission members utilized Casa Chapi as their home base and made one day clinic trips to more remote towns in the valley including;
1)Tisco, 2) Tuti, 3)Corporaque and 4) Sibayo where they saw 430 patients. The clinic in Tisco was timed to occur on their weekly market day when a large number of alpaca breeders who live with their alpacas in the remote grazing areas that sustain their herds.
Team members have been going to Tisco for several years and they love people who walk many miles to see them and who seldom have the opportunity for the same health care that the folks living in the more populated areas of the Colca Valley enjoy. Everyone remarked that the criadors from Tisco were the most thankful of all the patients they saw.
TEAM MEMBERS: Dr. Jim Gallagher, Dr. Erin Meyer, Dr. Alana Rickard, Richard Miller, Diane Podvin, Mary Clark, Stephanie Pope and Patsy Reams
Team 4: This team shadowed all of the first three teams shooting 7 days of film that will be crafted into a documentary about Quechua Benefit and Casa Chapi. We will be scripting and editing the video over the next 3 months and it will hopefully be showing soon at a gathering close to you.
TEAM MEMBERS: Aaron Marcellino and Andrew Curtis from Hitchhiker Pictures and Mike Safley.
Finally this mission would have not been possible without Quechua Benefits team on the ground in both Peru and the United States. Carla Villanueva works out of the Arequipa office and handled hotels reservations, bus transportation, safe meals, in country airline reservations and coordinated all of the international travel documents with Steve Johnson who organized the state side planning and logisticssuch as allocating the medicine for the missionaries to pack to Peru, Medical credential certifications, communication and Steve was also the general go to persons with pre-mission questions that rangedfrom, “do I need altitude sickness pills?” (Yes) “to what clothes should Ibring” (Think layers) and “how much money will I need” (Not much) and “is the water safe to drink?” (No).
Alejandro Tejada is the Quechua Benefit project manager on the ground and among other things he was the construction superintendent of Casa Chapi, coordinator of the Corani project and the liaison with all of the Peruvian agency’s with which Quechua Benefit interacts. On this mission alone Alejandro negotiated agreements with the Peruvian Health Ministry, The Minister of Education, the cities of Sibayo, Corani, Tuti, Chivay, Corporaque, the college of medicine in Lima, the customs bureau and the Catholic Arch Bishop of Arequipa.
Quite simply this multi-team, multi-town, multi-Peruvian Government approvals would not have happened without Carla, Steve and Alejandro.