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The villagers still cook over stone
fireplaces, and either walk or use donkeys
to go down the mountains. Donkeys also
are used to carry supplies. There is
electricity in the city of Cascas, and some
people do have televisions, but there is
no electricity in the mountains.
There are several modern hospitals in
Lima, but Lima is 12 hours away from
Cascas. The Seventh Day Adventist
Church runs one of the hospitals in Lima,
and doctors from Loma Linda University
in California are regular volunteers at the
hospital, as well as at a small clinic in
Cascas. In fact, some of these
Californians were just arriving in Cascas
as the Middlesex group was leaving.
"Cascas is an incredibly beautiful place
with rugged roads, breathtaking scenery,
and fascinating ruins, but it was the
people who impressed us," said Cormio.
"That there could be so much happiness
within such poverty was inspiring. The
kids were especially amazing. Everyone
appreciated whatever we did."
Health assessments were given to
villagers of all ages, from babies to elders.
The nursing students found a very serious
condition in one baby, which they think
will now be helped by the doctors from
Loma Linda. Health education included
basic hygiene, such as tooth brushing and
hand washing, and sexuality education
for young adults, which was requested
because of the high incidence of teen
pregnancies. The Middlesex volunteers
visited some sick people in their homes
and went from class to class in the local
schools. They brought with them
toothbrushes, vitamins, and educational
materials in both English and Spanish.
"It was really a remarkable experience,"
said MCC nursing student Maureen
McCartney. "Some of us were shocked by
the poverty at first. However, we were all
struck by how happy and content the
villagers are with so little. Although the
children have no toys, they manage to
have fun. Also, despite their high-starch
diet and the fact that most foods are fried,
there was not a lot of high blood pressure
or obesity."
Guillen added, "We would all love to go
back and make this an ongoing program.
People kept coming to wherever we were
and asking us to come to their villages.
We were made to feel so incredibly
welcome," she said.
The Middlesex group was there during
national elections, a time when no
drinking is allowed and no public
gatherings can be held. Citizens have to
return to where they were born to vote,
and the turnout is very close to 100
percent. Military officers were everywhere
to make sure everything was orderly
during the election process.
"We were teaching and learning at the
same time," added nursing student
Melissa Lord. "Everyone worked as a
team, and we came back with new
perspectives on healthcare delivery. Our
days were always busy, but it did not seem
like work. It was really an emotional
week. There was no way we could have
anticipated the impact it would have on
us, especially when we realized how much
we were appreciated."
"I have seen great maturation in the
students who made the trip," said
Cormio. "Working in another culture
where resources and supplies are
extremely limited is an incredible
learning experience. A big challenge for
all of us, of course, was the real fact that
we do not know if we will ever see any of
these people again ... and we would like
to," she said. "There is much to be done
For more information about the Peru
experience, contact Tina Cormio at or Claudia
Guillen at
Deborah Kearney
The Middlesex team in Peru (left to right): Ellen Faller, Melissa
Lord, Kristina Watt, Kylie Fulton, Ericka Gingrass, TinaCormio,
Claudia Guillen and Maureen McCartney