Hello all readers of our new blog. This is my first attempt at blogging, as Derick set the rest of this site up. We are going to try and write at least a short update twice a month. I won’t even say we are going to do it weekly because that just probably won’t happen. If we get something on once a month I will be pleased. As we are new at this we welcome feedback. Are our posts too long or too would you like more details, or more or less pictures? Are there other aspects of our life and ministry you would like to hear about?…let us know.
Earlier this month I took my first real, overnight trip to the “campo”, which is another word for the rural areas of Peru. In this case I visited Cotabambas, which is located in one of the poorest and most rural districts in all of Peru. To get there it is a 6-8 hour drive on very bumpy roads, with many switchbacks, see picture below. The purpose of this trip was to do medical checks on kids in our nutrition program, many of which are being sponsored by some of you. I was accompanied by our two nurses Juana and Mary and 2 other Peruvian women from our church, Fransisca and Nancy, who wanted to help….so it was sort of like an austere women’s retreat in a way.
Once we finally got there, the place we were supposed to sleep was unavailable so we all camped out in an upper unused room of the pastor’s house. There was a hole in the ground sort of bathroom across the street we could use. It was locked at night so you had to really plan. There was an outdoor water faucet, that was sometimes on, you could use to wash your hands and face, but that was about it for 4 days. This is all most people have in this region. Many do not have any kind of bathroom or toilet and there are open sewers in the streets or people just use their fields. It gave me a greater understanding of why these people have such a hard time keeping their kids clean and why, despite all the education they had received over the past year, they were still having trouble with repeat parasitic infections. Also, they cook over wood in an inclosed room that is also the dining room. The lady who was supposed to cook for us was sick most of the time so we all took turns and I had the experience of making Aji de Gallina (group effort) in this type of kitchen.
The reason for this trip was for me to do medical checks on the kids in our nutrition program. I spent a whole day, starting at 8am and going until dark, seeing as many kids as possible. The local health department graciously gave me a room to use but the electricity went out, so I had to stop about 6:30pm when I literally couldn’t see anymore. I saw the remaining kids the next day and also went along with our health promoters on home visits. The object of this is to see if the moms are actually carrying out what they have been taught. They have made a lot of improvements but still have a way to go in some cases. Even though I have lived in Peru for 4 years, it was still hard to see the conditions many of these families were living in. The kids there just don’t have much so they play with sticks, rocks, and old tire rims (as the boy in the picture below).
Our last day we did a teaching for all the moms (about 80 in the program). The place we were supposed to do this teaching also was not available at the last-minute so we used a room in the health department again. Juana and Mary have been visiting Cotabambas every month for the past year, teaching the moms, supplying vitamins and antiparasitic meds to the kids, supervising the health promoters and making home visits. For this month we taught, among other things, on dental care (sadly lacking in this region. We also gave out tooth brushes and tooth paste so the families could put what they just learned into practice. On our way home we saw one of the most beautiful complete double rainbows I have ever seen. I am sure the picture below won’t do it justice, but it reminded me of God’s faithfulness. Overall, even though the trip was tiring and it was hard to be away from the girls for 4 days it was worth it and I feel I have a much fuller understanding of the challenges facing families in rural Peru.