Weston Kitley ’13 – 7/31/2012 – Today the group went to continue and participate in the health campaign which was in partnership with Solidaridad en Marcha. The goal was to give medical care to those in this region. We assisted the local university volunteers in examining and treating the patients. I spent the majority of the day checking for lice and handing out shampoo and a comb. Other stations consisted of collecting information on height and weight, giving a fluoride treatment, and helping to check for anemia. Today was very rewarding for me because we were able to provide treatment immediately for the lice, and upon viewing many scalps it was easily noticed how needed the shampoo was for these young kids. It was eye opening to see the advanced infection in some individuals. It is always great for us to realize how much we take for granted, and how much people in poor areas such as Pamplona are in dire need for basic treatments. Despite their living conditions it is also quite fascinating that some remain clean in places with such high levels of infection.
After the daily participation in the campaign the group went to Ricardo Palma University to hear two speakers: Dra. Mercedes Gonzalez, who is a Prof. of Biology and the Director of the Natural History Museum, and David Estela, a 5th year medical student who is involved with research projects in cooperation with the local Rotary Club. Dra. Gonzalez, an ethnobotanist, told us about her efforts to catalog the plants used by indigenous people in Andean zones for basic medical treatments. This was timely because many of these plants can offer modern medicines and be used for many aliments. She talked about interviewing the people from many areas, collecting the whole plant for cataloging and then beginning testing of such plants.
The second lecture by David Estela was about “CUMIS” which was a plan of attack to help rural villages receive the treatment they desperately needed. He also talked about an effort to provide sand filters for local communities. He estimated these filters cost around 100 dollars and last approximately 30 years (although they have not been in use for 30 years, filters that are currently 16 years of age still work like new). These filters can clean 10-15 gallons of water each day and they employ locals to build the filters. It was a great idea, and seemed to be working well for the villages that possessed these filters. Overall it was great to finally get to interact with the people of Pamplona, and the students from the university. It felt good to give to the community and help in any possible way possible. We all appreciate the opportunity given to us by many. This trip is extremely inspiring for all of us, and has educated us beyond belief on the necessity and importance of global health.