I decided to go again after skipping one year. By now the organization has already made a good name in Peru, and was requested by many people to go visit several schools. More parents brought their children to have us take a look at them. We were averaging 160 kids a day for evaluation, then treating about 60 kids for dentistry. We would also sedate average 30 kids a day to do the dentistry. Getting consent for anesthesia was easier than the dentistry! We had to educate them what are decayed and infected teeth because many assumed having foul smelly mouth and black teeth was just part of growing up! Good thing we had great volunteers with a lot of patience to educated them. The amount of work we did was very overwhelming and was nothing like how it was 2 years ago. We went home late almost everyday, tired, hungry, but satisfied!
The most challenging location we had treatment was this special needs school. Over there, all the patients has some sort of special needs like: Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, etc. The anesthesia was pretty challenging because the patients were not always norm. We had one patient that was 9 years old and only weighed 12 pounds! I had to consider the anesthetic management, and just the blood loss from extracting teeth could potentially put her in danger. So we only lightly sedated her and extracted about 5 teeth. Rest of her treatment needs to be done when she fully recovers from the blood loss some other day. The poor single father struggles so hard to help her daughter get well, but he must be devastated watching his daughter get more cachectic as time goes on. The poverty I’ve observed there is very devastating, here is a picture showing the living conditions.
Another challenge we faced were going into regions with no power and running water. Good thing we had scouted the area first before we went there. We brought along a power generator and several big bottles of water. It was so dry and dusty, by the time we were all done, I was covered in sweat and dust.
Besides hard work during the day, we do have fun at night! Including dancing, parties, etc. Some days the locals would throw a party to thank us. One night we had some pyrotechnician did his own version of the Burning Man. We thought we were gonna all catch on fire! There was so much smoke and fireworks it would definitely be illegal over here in the states. I also made a trip to Mt. Chichani and mountain biked down a trail for a day. Air was so thin up 16,000 feet, and I had my first asthma attack ever… terrible feeling. Took a break and continued down. The view was so spectacular, and the ride was tough, but enjoyable. We being amateurs called it quits about 2/3 down the mountain and took some sunset photos.
Overall, the trip was very fun, rewarding, and culturally educating. I would encourage anybody to come to these humanitarian missions. It’s an opportunity to explore and meet great people who have the similar goals and interests. For sure, I’ll venture out to do more of these missions.