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Friday, January 21, 2011

The Other Side of the Door

Time has really started to fly.  I feel like just last week was New Year’s.  The past couple weeks have brought some exciting occurrences and yet some more changes to life here in Chimbote.  First though, a few thoughts on health care…

I have tried really hard to paint an accurate picture of what health care looks like here in Peru.  The truth is, however, that even though I am on the inside of this system (so to speak) my view is still a little skewed.  I am very lucky to be able to afford the healthcareSAM_3000 that I would need down here.  I also know that if something were to happen and I needed more care than can be given in Peru, I would be flown home.  That is not an option for Peruvians.  As much as I would like to believe I am living in solidarity with the people down here, this one fact makes a giant difference.  Not a day goes by that I do not realize the privileges I have been given.  I had a rather lively discussion with a co-worker a couple weeks ago.  The debate was about healthcare as a right as opposed to privilege.  I strongly believe that everyone in the world has the right to receive quality healthcare.  Whether or not they are receiving such care is a completely different matter (and one I am trying to work on).  One of the reasons I like CMMB is exactly that.  Their vision as stated on their website is: A world in which every human life is valued and quality healthcare is available to all.  I strongly believe in this and have committed myself to attempting to achieve this for as many people as possible in Peru.  However, in Chimbote, healthcare is mostly reserved for the privileged.  If you can afford the ten sole general medicine visit, you are in pretty good shape (so to speak).  Just because this is the way life is down here does not mean that it should remain so.  As one of my friends said “the secret to change is leaving apathy at the door”.  My first step is to try and do some education with the nursing staff at hospice.  By educating other healthcare workers, I can hope to achieve a much more far-reaching effect and in turn, help more patients receive the quality care they deserve.  Like everything else in Peru, poco a poco.

In the Daly household, if we see someone walking up the driveway wanting to sell us something or preach to us, we run for the nearest desk to hide under, turn off the TV and the lights and hold our breath.  I now know what the people on the other side of the door feel like.  Last week, we ventured out to Cambio Puente to gather some missing data from our population and to let people know about the free health clinic we are hosting this weekend.  In itself, this would not be all that exciting except for the fact that this was the first time I was let off on my own to gather data.  I knocked door to door and talked to people about our project and let them know about the clinic.  While a little nerve wrecking, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could understand everything being said to me and more importantly, that everyone else could understand me!  It took four nurses a day and a half to knock on every single door in Cambio Puente.  Afterwards, I guided my Peruvian co-workers to a ceviche stand in the middle of the market.  They were all surprised when I wanted my ceviche spicy.  As we say in our house, “Comida sin aji, no es comida (food without spice, isn’t food)”.

Witches market in Chiclayo.Last weekend, my fellow volunteer Amber and I decided to take advantage of this beautiful country we live in and explore the city of Chiclayo.  There are (supposedly) some great ruins up there (that due to time constraints we were not able to visit) and a huge market complete with a section devoted to traditional healing.  There were dozens of unidentifiable herbs, skunk pelts, amulets, voodoo dolls, dried lizards and much much more.  If I come down with some mysterious Peruvian illness, I will be heading straight for the market in Chiclayo.  We found a great little hostel in the beach town of Pimentel (after deciding not to stay at a not so great little hostel) complete with cable TV, a hot shower and toilet seat. 

A huge thanks this week goes out to my friend Kara Churchill who helped me laugh and cry my way through nursing school and continues push me to be the best nurse possible.

Congratulations to Heather and Jim Brennan on welcoming their newest addition to their family, Elliot John!

And finally, don’t forget to have a look at my pictures by following the link on the left or clicking here.

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