First Impressions in Pachacutec, Peru.

Second Clinic Day!

First Impressions in Pachacutec.

Day two began with a very early and very long bus ride to Pachacutec, a neighbourhood on the coast of Peru. This was MEDLIFE’s first visit to Pachacutec and all of the community members were very excited to be included in our mission. Pachacutec was added to the list of villages in need when one of MEDLIFE’s central figures was approached by a man in downtown Miraflores who was selling handmade crafts in order to support his family. The man, recognizing the organization’s logo, requested our assistance for his family and friends back home. Despite the distance, MEDLIFE could not refuse to lend a hand.

Again, students had a chance to shadow a different doctor and learn each specialty’s tricks of the trade for the day. Pachacutec was an especially fun location, as community leaders played Latin music over the speakers all day which contributed to a very relaxed and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Members of this village were extremely engaged in the entire process and showed great appreciation for the work we were doing.

Today, Michelle, one of McGill’s members, began the day in dentistry and spent the afternoon shadowing one of the volunteer doctors. Here is her take on the day:

“Today we had to drive about an hour and a half to get to the community we worked in. I was in the dentist station in the morning. It was interesting because A LOT of teeth were pulled and one cavity was filled. I thought it was cool because we got to really get a good look into the mouths as the dentist removed teeth. The teeth all belonged to very young children. It is kind of crazy that all of these little kids had such poor dental hygiene.

In the afternoon, I was with Dr. Paolo. He was very interactive and did a great job of getting myself and the other two volunteers at his station involved throughout the day. We were quizzed (I got +1 point!) and we were able to examine the patients ourselves! We were made to feel like residents. [Shadowing Dr. Paolo allowed us to see the conditions that most affect these low income neighborhoods of Lima, and how medical professionals go about treating these various cases when they can.]

I really love the doctors we get to work with here, they’re definitely making the experience that much more enjoyable. I would really like to stay involved with McGill’s MEDLIFE chapter. Overall, another great day, and the nap on the bus ride home was refreshing [and definitely necessary!].”

Each night, MEDLIFE provides all of us with the opportunity to partake in various local activities to get a feel for Peru life. Tonight, Diego, Ricardo, and Fernando were kind enough to come and teach us how to Salsa dance! We stepped on many a toes at first, but by the end, with much practice, we blended right in with the locals. Olé!

Hasta luego mis amigos!

¡High! in the Mountains of Catequilla-Chambo.

DAY 6 –  ¡High! in the Mountains of Catequilla-Chambo.

by Ji Hyun Yoon

Today the group set off to Catequilla-Chambo, a region located at the lower part of a mountain. The village was much more small in size and population compared to the ones previously visited which were located higher up in the mountains.

I worked at the dental station and assisted Tanya, the dentist, in treating over 30 people. The tasks I was responsible for included sterilizing the used tools with alcohol, handing the appropriate tools and supplies to Tanya, and comforting the patients during the treatment. It was a good opportunity for me to learn the names of the dental tools in Spanish and what they were used for. For example, carpul was used to inject the anesthetic into the gum, while gutaperchero was used to spread the cavity sealant on the tooth. Another tool named explorador was used for scraping out the plaques in between the teeth. Patients were treated with fluoride in prior to protect their teeth, where most of them were children who had rotten or wobbly tooth. For most of the times, cavity sealant was used to treat a rotten tooth but in severe cases the tooth had to be plucked out. There was one case in which an eight-year-old girl had broken roots and a few projecting tooth in wrong positions. Due to long periods of negligence the pus in her gum had decayed the gum so much that it could not absorb the anesthetic. It was tough for her to tolerate the pain of plucking the tooth out; all I could do was hold her hands. There was another woman who had dental problems that gave discomfort in everyday life that was impossible to solve since they were left that way for such a long time. Earlier treatments would not have led to such situations. Seeing those people in pain due to inaccessibility to simple treatments made my mind heavy and made me once again appreciate the benefit of the available health care that we have back home.

Taking part in MEDLIFE brigade provided me with so many valuable experiences. Being able to work right beside professional doctors and dentists and assisting them is not a common experience that one can get at our age; it is a chance for me to encounter various aspects of medicine and move one step further toward my dreams. In addition, although we are here to help these people, I feel that I am the one who is learning and gaining from them as days go on. I could sense that speaking different languages is not a problem at all in conveying feelings of gratitude and sincerity towards each other.