By Mike Safley | November 20, 2010

Mission Accomplished: November 2010

I have been given the privilege of sharing with the entire Quechua benefit family the joy and success our most recent medical outreach to the Colca Valley this past November. The mission was staffed by 17 American and Canadian volunteers; our largest group of volunteers to date.  We had four physicians, four nurses, one medical assistant, one occupational therapist and seven wonderful helpers that working together at the Health Posts in Chivay and Callilli. But what made this trip truly special was the 18 Peruvian volunteers that joined us making the mission team total 35 committed souls. Our Peruvian contingency consisted of Dentists who made false teeth for the older Quechua most of whom were toothless, interpreters, Peace Corp volunteers, a Gynecologist, a Physician that did ultrasounds and a Nutritionist who conducted clinics for the mothers who brought their children to be treated.

The Quechua Benefit team provided excellent care for over 1300 patients. Because of greater medical specialties being represented, we were able to move from cursory treatment into more comprehensive care. We also are making arrangements for more than 20 patients to receive more definitive care in Arequipa which they could not afford on their own.

This is just the beginning in making a significant impact on the medical care for the Colca Valley. We expect the Snowmass Medical Center, at Casa Chapi, will be finished by the end of April 2011. This will allow us to have a permanent presence in the valley and assist the existing Peruvian health care associates in doing their jobs. We are planning to employee a permanent social worker and hopefully a full time nutritionist at the Medical Center to help people whose current health needs, such as eye glasses, that are not met by the existing Peruvian system. Sometimes this will simply involve guiding or being an advocate for a poor person who is not aware of what is available to them in the local clinics or more advanced treatments in Arequipa.

One of the more important discoveries we made on this trip, which was beautifully organized by the Quechua Benefit staff in Peru, Sandra Carbajal and Alejandro Tejeda, is the opportunity to team up with local health care professionals. In the future we hope to, by way of an example, pair Peruvian Pediatricians with a volunteer Pediatrician from the United States to see patients jointly. We are committed to work with local Peruvian health care professionals. We have Alejandro and Sandra to thank for this insight and opportunity.

Ursula Munro and my wife Deborah also met with local women leaders to discuss how Quechua Benefit can help curb child and spousal abuse that is prevalent in this area. We are truly excited about what is happening right now and the unending possibilities for the future.

We will be having our next medical outreach November 2011. This mission will coincide with the 2011 Alpaca Fiesta in Arequipa when we will be returning to the Colca Valley for another medical outreach and plans are underway to team up, for the second year in a row, with the RAAT’s group from Australia who will be doing more cataract surgeries.

Please consider going with us. If you are a physician we need Pediatricians, Gynecologists, Dentists, Dermatologists, Optometrists and General Practitioners. We can not have too many nurses and if any of you are fluent in Spanish we always need interpreters.  There are thousands of children with no Pediatricians in the Colca Valley. Please feel free to contact me for any information you require, at (need phone number) or email at (need email).

Again thank you to all the supporters of Quechua Benefit. Your sacrificial giving is making a difference right now and will continue to do so in the days to come. Click here to view our mission trip photos.

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