Home Visits (Week 6)

I went on home visits on Tuesday and Thursday during my last week in Chimbote.

Tuesday:
Tuesday began with a visit to Hospital Regional to visit Angela. After weeks of spending time at Chimbote’s main hospital, I realized the role of religion in the city and in Peru, as well. In the United States, the main government run hospital in a city would not have religious images and statutes throughout. However, this was not the case at Hospital Regional. On every floor of the hospital there were religious figures and paintings. This really helped me to understand the impact Christianity has on not only the every day lives of these people, but especially in their times of sickness.

After Lily’s and my quick visit with Angela, we went back to Miramar (45 minute bus ride) to visit Isabel again. Isabel was then 8 months pregnant and we discussed her plans for giving birth, as well as talked about her general health in regards to her pregnancy.

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On our bus ride home, Lily and I were sitting in our seats and all of sudden she tapped me and told me to look in the aisle. In the aisle there was a bunny hopping around. Knowing how much I love animals, she picked the rabbit up by its ears and placed it between us on our seat. After six weeks in Chimbote, this situation did not surprise me much. We ended up finding the owner before we got off. The man had fallen asleep on the long bus ride and his bunny had escaped out of its cardboard box “cage”.

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Thursday:

On Thursday, Lily and I visited a man at his restaurant in Nuevo Chimbote. He has diabetes, which has caused him to barely be able to see. They discussed his need for the lower half of one of his legs to be amputated due to his diabetes.

After this, we visited a ten year old boy who is hydrocephalic. This boy has a higher functioning level than either Angela or Sarita. He was very short and had a deformed head. Additionally, he could not bend his elbows, but he could walk and talk and have full conversations with us. He is also able to attend school, which is quite impressive for being hydrocephalic. His two brothers were there with him, but no parents were home. Lily explained that two of them are adopted because their mothers had died. Due to there only being one parent to take care of these three children, they are often left home alone so that the dad can work. It is sad that this is a common occurrence throughout Chimbote.

It is honestly mind blowing how quick my six weeks went by in Chimbote!

If I Could Adopt You All, I Would

Sorry for the delay in posting!!–The past three weeks have been filled with traveling through Peru, starting a new full time job, and being in many places without wifi!

For the last month of my time at La Maternidad de Maria, I worked in the orphanage in the afternoons.

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Most of my time was spent bringing the kids to and from physical therapy. Some of the kids go to therapy for specific problems they have, while others go just to help their development.

My afternoons started at 2:00 when I would show up at the orphanage. I would begin by waking up Diego, a two-year-old little boy, and getting him prepared for therapy. While the other kids do not need to be made ready for therapy, Diego is not in the same boat as them; he was born without knees. When I first met Diego he had full leg casts.

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However, after two weeks of me being in Chimbote, he got his casts taken off and now wears full leg braces.

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After waking him up, I would put his braces on him and then bring him and his walker to the physical therapy room, which is only a two minute walk away. Once there, I put him in a wooden device that is meant to help kids practice standing. I sat behind him as he stood and played with toys that were on a table in front of him. After 15 minutes passed, I would move Diego to a mat, take off his braces, and then do ball exercises with him. First, I would put him face down on the ball and move him back and forth, side to side, and in a circle. I would then do the same motions with him lying on his back. Next, I sat him on top of the ball and bounced him up and down. I finished with having him lay on the ball and slowly touch his feet to the ground. He would hold himself there as long as he could. These exercises are used to help him with his balance. Once finished, one of the other physical therapists who worked there would heat up four Hot and Cold packs, which Diego would wear on his legs for about 15-20 minutes. Afterwards, he was finally ready to do exercises with one of the physical therapists. Throughout all of this time, I am bringing other kids from the orphanage to and from therapy–their physical therapy sessions only last about 30 minutes. The exercises that the kids (including Diego) do with the therapists include having their legs, feet, arms, and hands moved and stretched. The younger kids get help learning to crawl, while the older kids learn how to walk/walk correctly. After Diego was finished with his exercises with the physical therapist, I would put his braces back on and he would use a walker to help him walk. At first he would cry the entire time he was using it and I had to hold onto him and move his legs for him. But as weeks passed, he cried less and less and began to move his legs on his own. I still do not have words to describe the feeling I felt when I was holding one of his legs and for the first time, felt him move it forward on his own. These feelings of joy only grew as more weeks passed. By my last week he was able to walk with the walker on his own (although he still liked to have me walk behind him because he is scared and has low confidence) and now he can walk without the aid of the walker. Now he can walk with just his braces and with each hand just holding onto one of my fingers. I want more than anything for Diego to walk and it brings me so much happiness to know that I have helped him in his journey to walking.

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Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday I brought the same five kids to physical therapy and every Tuesday and Thursday I brought another five kids to physical therapy. After all five kids had been brought to and from therapy, I helped out around the orphanage. I had various jobs in the orphanage including cleaning dirty bottles, waking the kids up from naps and changing them, cleaning dirty diapers, feeding the kids, playing with the kids, and getting the kids ready for bed. Although feeding the children could be difficult at times due to them wanting to grab all of the food with their hands, them not wanting to eat at that time, or them wanting to spit the food out because they thought it was funny, I always got a good laugh out of it, especially when some of the kids would fall asleep mid-chew.

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It also quite amusing when they take naps!

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Working at the orphanage was particularly fun when there were fiestas! Another birthday was celebrated at the orphanage–Patrick turned one!! Students from Mundo Mejor (the high school that neighbored La Maternidad de Maria) came to celebrate his birthday (they typically came two to three times a week for a service project at their school). They brought a sign, snacks, a cake, gifts for the birthday boy, and a crown for him!

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Also, students from another school came and threw a party for the kids. Two students dressed up as clowns, there was lots of food, and there were even individual gifts for every single kid. The children absolutely loved it!!

At times I struggled working in the orphanage as I did not know all of the words and correct conjugations to communicate commands to the kids. It also proved challenging to make sure every kid was happy at every moment of the day. I had a particularly hard time working with one girl who constantly wanted to take toys from other children or hurt the others for no reason. Another challenge was that many of the children had speech problems. These problems stemmed from hearing problems, being too scared to talk, and problems specifically with speech. I also believe that due to neglect while growing up, many of these kids were not taught to speak correctly by their families. While all of these experiences were trying, the immense joy I got from working with the 13 orphans vastly outweighed the challenges. I feel that in such a short time and with so little words I got to know every single one of the kids, their likes and their dislikes, knowing who is crying without seeing who it is, and what makes each kid stop crying. For example, when Jesus is crying you need to find him a new toy, specifically a blanket or towel. However, when Julio is crying you need to put him in the rocking chair and rock him back and forth.

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While some of the orphans are fully abandoned and have no parents at all, there are others who have not been abandoned yet. Occasionally, the mothers or other family members would come and visit their kid. One of the sisters explained to me that many of the parents that visit leave their kids in the orphanage because they know that their kid will get clothed, fed, have toys, and be taken care of there. Diego’s case particularly breaks my heart. His dad, brother, and grandmother visit almost every week. You can tell that they love him and that he loves them, as well. However, due to his condition his family cannot properly take care of him and therefore, leaves him at the orphanage. Another situation that is tough to observe is that of Jesus. A woman comes and visits him three times a week. She wants to adopt Jesus, but due to the fact that he is not fully abandoned she has not been able to successfully adopt him. I so badly want her to be able to call Jesus her son and hope that she is able to soon.

The kids at the orphanagei have touched my heart in unimaginable ways and I miss them all so much already. I will never forget their smiling little faces and the joy that they brought me during my six weeks in Chimbote!

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Home Visits (Week 5)

I apologize for not posting sooner; I traveled to Trujillo this weekend with some friends and did not have wifi there!

This past week, my schedule changed so I could observe another part of La Maternidad de Maria in my last two weeks of work. I now work in the maternity ward on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (post about this coming soon) and go on home visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tuesday:

Tuesday was a busy morning! Zoriada and I started our day with a visit to another EsSalud Hospital that is located in Chimbote called EsSalud: Hospital I–Cono Sur. We met a young woman outside of the hospital. She gave us her ID and Zoriada and I proceeded inside. Once in the hospital, we found a phone that could be used to call (for free) and schedule doctors’ appointments. Zoriada called and made an appointment for this woman. I am not sure why the woman needed an appointment or why she could not do it herself.
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Our next stop was Regional Hospital. There we met a woman, her husband, and their baby. This woman has tuberculosis so we brought her to the TB doctor at Regional. He examined a small open wound on one of her breasts and a lump that was inside her breast, both of which are caused by tuberculosis. I did not know these were side effects of TB. The doctor let me feel the lump, which was quite large. This is another example of a health care condition I did not think I would ever observe and/or help with. The doctor scheduled an appointment for a further check-up for her. Next, we delivered headache medicine to a man who works as a cook at Regional, and then Zoriada and I were off to our next stop.

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We visited a special education school (different from the one I have worked at in the past) called Cristo Jesús. One of the services of this school is physical therapy. Zoriada and Lily (another nurse who met up with us at this point) talked to the director of the school about the possibility of having volunteers work there. On June 28th, nineteen physical therapists from the United States are coming to Chimbote to practice physical therapy here. They are now scheduled to visit Cristo Jesús on the first of July!

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Our final stop for the day was San Luis. We tried visiting a pregnant woman who lives in this area, but she was not there. We also visited the house of another woman who was not there, but her four kids were there They live by themselves during the day because their mother has to work. It was scary to see that a girl no older than 8 was left in charge of her three siblings. Next we visited a twelve-year-old boy who has cerebral paralysis. He was lying on the bed in their small house when we arrived. He could not get up to see us and I could see that his hands and feet were turned in. However, he had a stick that he was playing with with his feet so I quickly observed that he has movement in his legs. We said hello to him and hugged him and you could see the excitement in his face. Zoriada and Lily talked to his mother about his need for physical therapy. After we left his house, I talked to the nurses about his condition. They explained that he has movement in his limbs, but cannot walk, which is why he needs therapy. Unfortunately, his family does not have enough money for him to go to physical therapy. Also, they explained to me that he cannot really speak due to his condition, but I believe he can understand. It was tough seeing a mother who wants to help her son and his health condition, but does not have the resources to do it. We ended our day with a visit to Jose to check up with him and make sure he is taking his medicines, which he said he was.

Thursday:

Lily and I began our Thursday with a visit to Peru Natural. A couple of weeks ago I visited this physical therapy clinic with Ellie and Zoriada. Lily and I visited on Thursday to talk to the main doctor about having the group of physical therapists from the States volunteer at Peru Natural and observe how it is run. Lily had paperwork to bring to Regional Hospital so she left me at Peru Natural while she made her trip. The doctor let me sit in on a few of his appointments. I watched as her cracked their necks and backs and he even let me feel their spines, knees, and other body parts that were the reason they were coming in for physical therapy. This doctor loved to talk and talk and talk and I don’t think he realized that a lot of what he was saying to me went right over my head given that it was mostly technical physical therapy terms. However, I am very thankful that I got to observe another aspect of health care here in Chimbote, Peru. After spending time with this physical therapist, I went to a different part of the clinic and watched a 16 year old girl with cerebral paralysis walk with the help of braces on her legs and metal bars to hold on to. I talked to her mom during the hour that she practiced walking about her condition and life in Chimbote. It was fascinating to see the difference a little bit of money can do for someone in health care. I had just met the boy with cerebral paralysis on Tuesday who could not walk at all and needed physical therapy, but cannot afford it. This girl with the same condition was on her way to walking! It was also a priceless experience, seeing the expression on the girl’s face as she walked. Throughout the entire hour she looked so hopeful and happy.

Once Lily had finished her visit to Regional Hospital, she came and got me and we went to San Luis. We stopped at the house next door to Jose’s to give medicine to the family for their baby, but nobody was home. Lily gave the medicine to a neighbor who said she would drop it off at the house once the family was home. Every time we have visited San Luis, I have wondered what was on the other side of this huge hill of sand.

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I finally asked Lily what was on the other side and she simply said “nada” and told me to go look. I successfully climbed up the sand hill without falling to find she was right…there was nothing there, but more sand (what a surprise).

20140626-201448.jpg However, the short climb was not wasted because as I turned around to go back down, I saw the extent of the slums of San Luis. The view was breathtaking–not for its beauty per se, but for the impact it had on me and my understanding of the poverty that extends through Chimbote.

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Still in absolute shock that I’m now on to my last week here!

Home Visits (Week 4)

I’m sorry, but did I actually just type the number 4 after “Week”? How has it already been a MONTH?!

Monday:
Due to a battle with food poisoning over the weekend (turns out Chinese food from the mall will do that to you), I was still feeling a bit under the weather on Monday. I asked to work in the orphanage Monday morning so that I could sit down and have access to a bathroom if needed.

Tuesday:
I was feeling much better and ready to join in on home visits again, but due to a shortage of nurses, we were not able to go on home visits–I worked in the orphanage on Tuesday morning, as well.

Wednesday:
On Wednesday, I still did not go on a home visit, instead spending the morning at the special education school!

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Last time, I went on a field trip with the students. However, on Wednesday, I got the wonderful opportunity of observing the students in a classroom environment. I worked with the same teacher and her six students–it felt so good to walk into their classroom and have them remember my name and who I was even though I had only met them once before! They were spending their morning making presents for their dads for Father’s Day (which is celebrated on the same day here in Peru as it is in the United States). When I arrived they had just finished making picture frames for their fathers–the frames were either in the shape of a guitar or a sailboat. Here is one of the students with his frame; he still needed to bring in a picture of his father to put in his frame.

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We moved on to the next project–Father’s Day cards! The teacher passed out all of the supplies to them, explaining each step to each student individually. For the most part, they all understood what they needed to do. I helped clarify the instructions for the students who needed help. The cards were made out of old pieces of jeans and the teacher made little ties for the students to glue on the front of their cards. She was so creative and patient with her students–it was inspiring to watch! Once all of the pieces of the cards were glued in place, I helped the students write messages for their dads inside of their cards. Beyond helping the students, I helped the teacher prepare another project. I got some time to talk to her while the kids had recess. She explained the students’ schedule, which consisted of computation, arts, and music. She also told me about the show the students would be putting on for their dads on Friday–I wish I could have gone to it! I had another wonderful day with the students of San Juan!

Thursday:
I finally was able to go on a home visit on Thursday! However, this was not a typical home visit. When I showed up on Thursday morning, Zoriada asked me to work in the orphanage till 10 and then come back to the Posta Medica when the group would be ready to go. I was not sure who or what she meant by “the group”, but off I went to the orphanage. I returned to the Posta Medica, and by 10:30 a group of about 15 or so nurses and I were loading into 5 taxis. We pulled up to a house that a large event like tent was set up outside of–across the side of the tent was written the name of a funeral company. One of the nurses explained to me that the mother of one of the obstetric nurses from La Maternidad de Maria had passed away on Wednesday. Unfortunately, I did not understand what she said about how the woman died. We all proceeded into the house of the family and hugged and said hello to the daughters. We took our places in seats that lined the edge of the room. In the center of the front of the room was an open casket (a layer of glass was across the top of the casket, allowing one to see, but not touch the deceased) surrounded by many, many flower arrangements. The director of La Maternidad was there with a woman who would lead the funeral. They passed out these sheets of paper for us to follow along with during the ceremony.

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We also said five Our Fathers and four Hail Marys. Once the spoken part of the funeral was finished, a bottle of Holy Water was passed around to those who wanted to go up to the casket and sprinkle the Holy Water in the sign of a cross on top of the glass. This part was extremely tough to watch because loved ones started to get very emotional. I was sitting next to the daughters and hearing and seeing their grief was hard for me. I was almost moved to tears–although I did not know the woman, I could sympathize with the family of the deceased and seeing how much they loved her hurt my heart. Once the funeral finished, all of the nurses and I said our goodbyes to the family members and returned to La Maternidad. Being able to observe the funeral was an amazing experience for me. Observing this piece of Peruvian culture is an irreplaceable opportunity. While the funeral was very different from a typical funeral in the United States, the presence of grief, feeling of love, and sense of community were all present in the small front room of the house.

Friday:
Lily and I began our Friday morning with a visit to EsSalud: Hospital III–Chimbote. We were there to schedule doctor’s appointments for two patients (both kids) from La Maternidad. However, when we arrived, the woman we needed to talk to was not in her office. We searched the area and asked nearby doctors and EsSalud staff if they knew where she was. After that effort left us with no new information, we decided to wait for her outside of her office. Ten minutes passed, then twenty, and before we knew it a half hour had passed. We walked around other areas of the hospital looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found. We went back to her office and waited another thirty minutes before deciding to leave since it was already 10:30 at this point and we had other patients to see. We left EsSalud and ventured to San Luis–all the way on the other side of the city. This drive can take quite awhile, especially when you are traveling in a public van that stops almost every block or so to let people in and out. Once in San Luis, Lily and I visited Jose, giving him pills to take for his diabetes. Although I did not get to meet her, this was the first time in all of my visits to Jose that his wife was there; she typically works (begs) from 7:00 in the morning to 11 or 12 at night. Due to spending an hour at EsSalud, we did not have time to visit anymore patients on Friday.

I am incredibly blown away by all that I have observed in this past month. What an absolutely incredible learning experience this has been for me!

Feliz Cumpleaños Joaquín!

During my time at the orphanage, I had heard that there was a man looking to adopt one of the little boys who lives here, but I had never seen or met . Finally, one afternoon, I come to work and there is a huge birthday party being thrown for the little boy by his (hopefully) future father!!
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There were decorations, cake, gift bags, snacks, drinks (champagne for those of age), and a piñata–all Cars themed! All of the kids were having an absolute blast and looked the happiest I’ve seen them so far. I loved seeing the smiling faces of all of the children, but what I loved even more was the permanent smile that the future father-to-be had on his face the whole time as he was holding his soon-to-be son. You could see in his face how much he already loves Joaquín.
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After the snacks and cake were eaten and the piñata broken into, I got some time to speak with the man looking to adopt Joaquín. He told me he lives in Lima (meaning he traveled 7-8 hours by bus just to throw a birthday party for his future son) and is a doctor there. In addition, he explained his adoption process to me–his has only taken three months so far (quite quick) and he is hoping to take Joaquín home in about a month. He also told me about his name choice for his son. Joaquín was the name of his grandfather so he will be changing the name of his little boy to this. We also talked about all of his worries about having a kid–he is particularly nervous to bathe him. But he says he has everything purchased and set up, ready for Joaquín’s homecoming! (In case any of you are wondering how I understood so much of this conversation, it’s because he spoke very, very good English!)

Here Joaquín is after his new dad dressed him up in his monkey pajamas!
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While to the kids we were simply celebrating Joaquín’s 6 month birthday, we were also celebrating so much more–love. Amidst all of the poverty and tragedy that I witness every day, this was a shard of hope, happiness, and light brought to the city of Chimbote and to La Maternidad de Maria.

One last picture of the birthday boy (how can you not want to pinch those CHEEKS?!):

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So Feliz Día de Papa to this future father and Happy Father’s Day to my dad (sending you my love and hugs from Peru) and to all other dads out there!

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

Before I left for Peru, my parents gave me a handful of tips/rules for safe travel. One of these that they emphasized was that stray dogs and cats would be everywhere, and no, I could not pet them. For those of you who know me well, you know that I love, love, LOVE animals (for those of you who do not know me well, you now know that I love animals). While many parents may not need to warn their kids not to pet stray dogs and cats, that was not the case for my parents. I want to pet every animal I see. When there is a dog being walked on campus I practically run to it regardless if I know the owner or not. However, my parents did not tell me to not touch the animals here because they wanted to be mean, it is for my safety. Majority of the cats and dogs strolling the streets of Chimbote are strays and are very dirty, carrying with them the possibility of infection and rabies. According to my dad, if I were to ever get bit while here, I would need to be evacuated to the better hospitals in Lima (close to 300 miles away from Chimbote). My 24/7 want to pet and love these animals is not worth the health risk.

Now as I mentioned above, my parents said cats and dogs would be everywhere…that was an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. I don’t think I have walked down a street that does not have at least 3 dogs and cats on it–really I don’t think a street free of cats and dogs exists in the entirety of Chimbote. It takes everything in me not to pet every animal we pass (except the donkeys–I’m okay not petting them).20140612-184730.jpg

I try to take pictures of as many of them as possible (my coping mechanism for not being able to touch them), but if I were to take pictures of all of them I would never put my camera away–my camera card would be full and my battery dead within hours! The only animals I have pet are two puppies and one kitten that belong to someone I know here (and my dad was not very happy about even that). But don’t worry everyone I am bite and rabies free!

If it was up to me, I would take all of the strays home with me! However, given that I live in a dorm 9 months out of the year that can barely fit two people, I don’t think hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs would fit…

So no I did not use the phrase “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” as my title to inform people that it was raining a lot here in Chimbote (which it’s not). I am using it literally…I mean that can be the only explanation for how there are so many cats and dogs here. I swear, I go to sleep and it rains cats and dogs. If anyone can come up with a better explanation for the hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs roaming the streets here, let me know!

Cats, Cats, and more Cats:

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Dogs, Dogs, and more Dogs:

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Kitties and Puppies (saving the best for last, of course):

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Home Visits (Week 3)

Monday:

Sorida and I started our week with a visit to the woman with the hernia. However, one of her family members told us that a nurse from a different place had already come and cleaned it. Sorida seemed a little annoyed that we had taken time to go there to then not be needed, but this sometimes is the case. Occasionally patients are not home or it is not a good time for them. I am curious to learn more about how the scheduling works for home visits!

We left and traveled to a part of Chimbote that was new to me. The house we visited was high up on a hill from which you could see all the way to the sea from. This view gave me a better understanding on just how many houses there are in this area. The houses are all crammed right up next to each other and they go on like this for miles.

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The woman who lived here has diabetes and had lost over half of her right leg due to the disease two years ago. Due to her missing appendage, she is in a wheelchair. While visiting her, I realized that I had seen a handful of people with missing limbs using crutches and wheelchairs, but nobody has a prosthetic. While I do not know much about prosthetics, I am sure that they are expensive and unaffordable for many of the people here in Chimbote.

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We walked to the house next door and met the woman’s brother who also has diabetes. He also showed us a large gash in the bottom of his foot. This cut was dirty and not dressed in any way, yet the man was continuing on with all of his daily work as if it wasn’t there. Due to lack of resources, time, and/or money, sometimes healthcare gets put on the back burner.

Then we traveled to a house a few blocks away, where we met with a man who had had on operation on his entire spine. After his surgery he was bedridden for three months. Now he is able to walk and move around, but in watching him move about his house, I could tell that he could not turn his neck that well. Additionally, he gave Sorida and I some soda and as he was carrying the cups over to us his hands were visibly shaking. Sorida discussed with him his need for physical therapy. His daughter was at the house while we were there. She was washing the dishes and cleaning. The man’s wife passed away some time ago and due to the man’s limited movement, the daughter has to do all of the chores. Sorida also talked to him about his diabetes and his diet. I am quickly realizing how prevalent diabetes is here in Chimbote. I am wondering if it is mostly genetic or if it has a lot to do with the typical food eaten here.

We ended our day with a visit to Sarita at Regional Hospital.

Tuesday:

On Tuesday, I went on home visits with Lily. Our first stop was a medical post where we brought tuberculosis papers to a doctor there. He kept the originals and then stamped and signed copies for La Maternidad. I found out that these posts are run through the government and that is why we can bring tuberculosis information to them. Our next stop was EsSalud: Hospital III–Chimbote where we met with a woman who worked there so she could schedule a doctor’s appointment for a patient from La Maternidad who has psychological problems. Our third stop was Regional Hospital where we visited Sarita. We found out that she was leaving that night for Lima for a consultation with a doctor there. Before her departure, someone from La Maternidad needed to drop off more diapers and milk for her trip.

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We ended our day with a visit to Jose. After a brief conversation with him, we talked to his neighbors about their health problems. I believe one of their family members has cancer and their daughter is covered in either many, many bug bites or some sort of rash. Lily recorded their information (names, address, ages) down for future visits.

Wednesday:

Sorida’s and my day began with a visit to a mom and her six-year-old son who is mentally retarded. His hands and feet were curled in; Sorida discussed physical therapy options with the mother. Next, we visited a woman who is slightly paralyzed. From what I could tell, she is paralyzed in her lower back and upper legs; she could move her feet and toes, as well as being able to lift her feet up. She also needs physical therapy. The need for physical therapy is very great in Chimbote. Sorida keeps mentioning something about American physical therapists who are coming to Peru soon, but I do not understand what else she says about them–I hope to find out more soon! Our last visit was to the woman we visited during my first week here who no longer has eyes or a nose due to cancer. We brought her medicinal creams, gauze, and medical tape. You could hear the immense gratitude in her voice after we gave her these items–she was so thankful for supplies I often take for granted at home. She also has no teeth (not sure why) making it very hard to understand her when she talks. The mask that she wears to cover her face also makes it difficult to understand her, yet she is so very sweet and welcoming. I am wondering whether she wears the mask so people cannot see her lack of eyes and nose or if it is used to keep germs and bacteria out of the open flesh that was once where her nose was. Sorida told me that she lost her eyes first and then her nose–this was 20 years ago. Although I am sure it is tough to live in her condition, she has been able to live a long life with the removal of her eyes and nose.

Thursday:

I spent the morning at San Juan, a school for special education (as mentioned in a previous post) and so did not go on home visits on Thursday!

Friday:

Sorida’s and my first stop was to a house where we provided medicine to the grandfather. Sorida did not have a specific name for his illness, but explained symtpoms such as vomiting and a bad cough; I believe he is just sick as a part of getting old. We set up an IV drip for him. However, due to the lack of healthcare resources here people have to be very innovative. The IV drip was hung from a cane that was hanging from a ceiling rafter!

20140609-211618.jpg During our visit, the mother was trying to play matchmaker and set me up with her son. She kept telling me “que bonita, que bonita” (how beautiful, how beautiful), invited me over to have ceviche, kept asking me all of these questions such as “Are you married?”, “Do you have kids?”, etc. And when she found out that me and her son were the same age, she really thought it was a match made in heaven. Although this was a bit awkward, it was also quite amusing!

Next, we got in a van sort of bus and rode it to Santa, a poor town outside of Chimbote. Here we visited a family whose three kids cannot properly walk. The children’s ages range from 14 to 20. I also believe that they have slight mental problems given that when asked questions they did not really respond. In addition to all of the other people we met with this week, they also need to attend physical therapy.

From Santa, we took a van/bus to Coishco to visit two women who have tuberculosis. However, neither of them were there. One woman was in the hospital for her TB and the other woman was out. While in Coishco, we stumbled upon a festival there with some floats and many kids dressed up in costumes. If kids were wearing costumes in the United States, they would most likely be store bought. All of the kids were wearing homemade costumes made of either garbage bags, newspapers, or other forms of paper. For the most part, I could still tell exactly what they were! It was fun to watch even though I had no idea what the festival and parade were for–also the kids all looked so cute in their costumes!

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I can’t believe I have completed my third week of home visits meaning my time here is already half way done!