Chris Dabbs ’15 – Bienvenidos de Peru!
Today, as I walked the muddy, feces covered streets of Pamplona Alta, the only thing that kept running through mind was: “Poor in Peru is completely different than poor in the United States”.
During the health campaign that we have been working at in Pamplona, someone decided that it would be a good idea to take a bus up to Pamplona Alta (the poorer section of Pamplona) to go door-to-door and spread news of the health campaign. Around 20-30 volunteers piled into our bus to take the journey. Upon arrival, one could easily tell the difference in air contents. In Pamplona Alta, many people cook on open fires and it just hangs in the air causing many respiratory problems, especially among young children. Also, there were many mangy dogs (surely carrying diseases) freely playing with children. In the United States, it is not uncommon for a child to pet someone’s dog as it is strolling through a park. Peruvian children want to do the same thing, the only difference is that their playing can lead to many parasitic infections.
After our door-to-door excursion, we visited one of the premier neurological research facilities in Peru: Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Neurologicas (The National Institute of Neurological Sciences). Upon our arrival, we were told to be very cautious of our surroundings because the neighborhood that we were in was not a very good one. This is quite a contrast to American institutions. Most of our best research facilities are in very nice sections of the United States. We were at the institute to take a tour and to be given a small lecture regarding a parasitic infection called Neurocisticercosis. This infection is caused from people living in a very close proximity to their hogs and eating pork infected with a certain parasite that can attack the nervous system. The humans carry eggs and then reinfect each other and hogs through their inappropriately disposed feces. This is something that doesn’t happen in America because of the availability of proper waste facilities. The juxtapositions in impoverished culture, between America and Peru, is astonishing and is something that I’m excited to keep learning about.