Saturday June 22, 2019
It’s day one in Cusco and everyone has arrived safely with only a few flight delays! We are so happy to welcome everyone to our sunny home base and begin get-to-know-you games, part of orientation, and of course have some relaxation time after long journeys! We tasted our first Peruvian food made by our house chefs and learned some fun facts about the country to get us acclimated to our program!
Tomorrow will include the rest of orientation and a walking tour of the local area, markets, and city plaza before we dive into service work this week! We can’t wait for the fun, adventure, and learning to continue! More posts from students coming soon!
-Lauren Schloss, International Director
Monday June 24, 2019
Yesterday we went into the San Pedro Market in Cusco during their local festival for the sun god. Everyone had lots of fun and returned to the home base with lots of souvenirs. It was really interesting to see the local people celebrate together.
Today we went on our reality tour with Medlife, our service provider. The first stop was an overlook of the whole city of Cusco, we were able to see how much the city has recently expanded and learned about the current state of the city. Next, we went to the hospital, which put into perspective the major differences between our healthcare system and our own.
Our third stop was a local primary school in a rural area outside of the city. We were able to see how difficult it is to access education from rural areas and the disadvantage this causes for the children. Our fourth stop was for lunch at a beautiful overlook where we were able to view the entire valley down below. Our final stop was the animal sanctuary, here we got to learn about different types of animals in the area and interact with them.
All in all, these last few days have been filled with eye opening experiences that prepared us to begin service with Healthy Homes tomorrow.
From your leaders of the day,
Madison and Lily
Wednesday June 26, 2019
For our first two service days here in sunny Cuzco, Peru, students visited the small community of course Secsencalla to start our Healthy Homes Project. Over the course of two days, students worked to provide for two families within the community. Upon arrival, students were split into different assignments including: painting rooms, repurposing fruit boxes, and building corn dryers. All of these assignments improved the general health of the lives of these families.
Painting rooms will help remove mold and harmful bacteria that builds up over time, as well as brightening the homes. Reconstructing fruit boxes provided another alternative for storage in the homes, instead of storing items on the dirty floor. Corn dryers are a sustainable solution to drying corn in the kitchens, which will reduce the possibility of developing respiratory issues.
On day one, Rosa and her granddaughter, Sarah, welcomed us into their home with exceeding gratitude. After a long day of service, full of new experiences, Rosa offered the students home cooked potatoes, corn and cheese. In addition, she requested the names of all those who participated to hang on her wall. Day two offered another opportunity for students to benefit a local family. The family was experiencing health related hardships, making this work more vital to their wellbeing. Challenges were overcome with dancing and singing creating positive atmosphere among the students and the family.
These past two days of service have been an eye-opening experience for students to learn about the reality of the conditions people live in as well as taking actions to improve people’s lives. While each student experienced their ups and downs completing difficult work, they were able to make a personal connection with both the families and the culture.
Blog written by: Noelle, Casey, Mackenzie, and Christopher
Friday June 28, 2019
For our sixth day in Peru, we took a break from service work to go on a rafting excursion on the Vilcanota river. Students split into different rafts, each with an instructor, to learn the different commands used when rafting. Along the Vilcanota, students were able to look up and see the beautiful mountains while going through the class three rapids.
Although three students fell out of the rafts, everyone had a great time. After rafting, we had a great lunch at the lodge and were able to relax in the sauna. Afterwards, students were surprised with yet another fun activity at the lodge- ziplining across the river! Students were all very tired on the bus ride home and were treated to some much-needed free time once arriving back at home base. To round out the day, the group all came together to watch an animated movie about Incan culture that takes place in Cusco: Pachamama and enjoyed popcorn and hot tea to warm up after a busy day.
For our seventh day in Peru, we continued with our Healthy Homes Project in Secsencalla. Working with local community member Eva, students again built corn dryers, repainted rooms, and built fruit crates. Students also wrote cards for Victor, our Medlife representative, and Jenny, a community member. After dinner, we celebrated Kareena’s 16th birthday with a cake from a local bakery. Students ended the day with mentor groups, some taking a walk into the city. After mentor groups, students went to bed early to get some needed rest for the exciting trip to Machu Picchu!
By Ava and Camille
Saturday June 29 and Sunday June 30, 2019
We started off our day with a two hour bus ride to reach our first destination, El Jardin de Las Mamitas. This is a local art residency, and the owner Alberto gave us a tour of all his creative projects. Every student was also able to participate in an art form of their choice, and were able to bring home souvenirs from paintings to sculptures to even animation videos! After our creative adventure, we boarded the train to head to the town of Aguas Calientes, at the base of Machu Picchu. The train ride was filled with gorgeous views, lots of card games, and plenty of alpaca sandwiches. We ended our long day of travel with a relaxing soak in the mineral hot springs and a delicious buffet.
Sunday was the big day! We got up bright and early to make our venture to Machu Picchu, riding a bus for 45 minutes to reach the peak. Our wonderful guides, Patricia and Edder, led us up the many, many, many steps to reach our viewpoints. After a fascinating history of the magical structure, we were actually able to go and walk through the ruins. Many photo ops later, we finally departed from the mountain with wonderful memories and (for many of us) our first New Seven Wonders experience. We then headed for another alpaca-filled lunch and hit the markets to round out the excursion experience in Aguas Calientes. A four hour train ride later, we arrived back at home base with plenty of excitement to start our week of medical campaigns!
By Emma B, Daisy and Natalie
Hello families! This blog didn’t go through over the weekend, so we’re posting it now!
We began our 3-day medical campaign with Medlife at a different community every day. The students were stationed at 2 of 8 different stations each day: triage, education, toothbrushing, hygiene, general medicine, dental health, OBGYN, and pharmacy.
At the triage station, students were able to take the blood pressure, height, and weight of incoming patients. Students at the education station helped guide patients to their next station, fill out paperwork, and assist the nurse with glucose tests. Students stationed at the toothbrushing station taught local children about proper toothbrushing techniques and the importance of maintaining their oral health.
At the hygiene station, students showed children the proper way to wash their hands and how to apply lotion to their hands and face. Since the air in Cusco is very harsh, the children’s skin is often dry. At the general medicine station, students were able to shadow two doctors, where they observed patient consultations and wrote down the prescriptions for the patients. The patients presented similar health issues, many adults had arthritis from carrying heavy loads on their backs, and bronchitis from inhaling the smoke in their kitchens. Students at the dental health station assisted the dentist with suction, cleaning and handing the dentist tools, and holding a flashlight. Students were able to observe teeth extractions, cavity fillings, and general cleaning.
The OBGYN station involved only female volunteers, where students handed the doctor the tools for pap smears. Students at the pharmacy station read the prescriptions and found the proper medications for each patient. Ultimately, we all enjoyed and learned from our experiences at the medical clinics.
On the last full day of the trip, the students had an OMG activity where one goal was decided upon as a group to take back home. They also created individual goals for themselves. Next, we did an appreciation circle where students were able to anonymously appreciate their peers. Afterwards, students participated in a “Pass the Paper” activity, where they wrote down their favorite memories with each of their peers. After lunch, we went into the San Pedro Market and explored the plaza. We then split into our Mentor Groups, where we went to local cafes to have a final reflection on our trip. After that, we had dinner in town at a buffet-style restaurant where we danced along with the performers and lively music.
We’re sad that it’s time to say goodbye to Peru and excited to take our new adventures back into our lives at home!
Written by: Kareena & Vivian