Adventures with Hearts with Hope @ Peru (Part 1)

Just want to share with you my experiences in Peru with Hearts with Hope.

Here’s what they are; copied from their website

Founded in 1994 by Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Juan Alejos at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA.

The primary goal of the foundation is to instruct local medical personnel in the treatment and care of children with congenital heart diseases, as well as providing financial, educational and emotional support for their families.

One of the successful heart surgery patients

Staffed by volunteer physicians, allied health personnel and community members with extensive experience in the treatment and care of children with congenital heart disease. The foundation works in conjunction with local children’s hospitals often severely understaffed, limited in supplies and unable to provide adequate facilities for the overall population. Medical and humanitarian supplies donated by physicians, UCLA Medical Center, international corporations and community volunteers.

This is my 2nd mission with them, and it’s been a wonderful experience both times!  My first time with them, Dr. Eric Sung, co-director of UCLA’s hospital dentistry, had asked me to come with them to help with the outreach team.  I helped with dental exams, treatment and also provided anesthesia to the children. Most of the staff there started to look at me weird when I was providing anesthesia, and when all the patients that needed anesthesia was done, I was extracting teeth and placing fillings.  They forget I am still a dentist!

Our Dental Outreach Team, Peru 2008

Typical street of Arequipa

Peru is generally a well developed countries in the big cities.  They have a lot of the modern conveniences you’ll usually find in big cities.  In my first visit, the government had held a lot of our medication and supplies for “inspection”.  So I didn’t have any drugs available on our first day in outreach!  We went to a pharmacy around the corner from the hotel and acquired a few ampules of Ketamine, Midazolam, and some other emergency drugs.   Didn’t ask for license or “DEA”.  I thought it was hilarious, but they probably gave it to us knowing we were foreign volunteer doctors.

Main church in Arequipa at night. Quite beautiful isn't it?

Peruvian food definitely has some interesting characteristics.  Lots of potato in the diet, and their specialty drink is Pisco Sour.  A pisco sour is cocktail containing pisco, lemon or lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and bitters.  It tastes great!  Another cuisine that’s interesting is Cuy, its a guinea pig!

Yummy Cuy with Peruvian Corn and Potato.

I definitely had some fried guinea pig.  It tastes like chicken :p  It was pretty good actually, other meats like alpaca kinda tastes like lamb.

After a weeks work, some of us went to Macchu Picchu.  We stopped by Cusco and did some sightseeing.  Definitely observed more of the local culture here.  There were also remnants of the Inca culture all around.  Inca temples were made so precise with no mortar or cement.  The stones were cut and smoothed to fit each other by the micrometers.  So when the Spaniards try to blow up their temple with cannons, only very little would break off.  Instead, they just built cathedrals and buildings over the temple.  If you visit you’ll be amazed at the architecture these Inca’s were able to build.  Macchu Picchu is definitely worth being one of the 7 modern wonders of the world.  It was huge city built with the same stone work.  Those who really want to experience in full, should definitely get in shape for the hike!  It’s high altitude and steep slopes almost killed me :p  I was gasping for air most of the time, and left in the dust by those more fit.  I didn’t give up and made it to the top, but by then it was time to go…

Next blog I’ll go more into my second trip with them!

The tall peak is Wynna Picchu, wanted to go up there but they closed it off due to weather conditions.

My attempt at being National Geographic photographer.

What's without hanging out with llamas and alpacas in Peru?

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