Peru

Woman with Alpaca

In July 2009 I returned from two weeks in Arequipa, southern Peru, where I treated people with acupuncture, electrical acupuncture and moxa. Actually, it was two weeks of very close contact with people whose main concern in life is getting a meal on the table.

Posing with a group of local people in front of the clinic
Posing with a group of local people in front of the clinic
Colca Valley. One of the few places on earth where you can see condors
Colca Valley. One of the few places on earth where you can see condors

We were at a mission up in the high desert Arequipa region, a spot where just ten years ago there were only stones. That’s when Father Alex Busuttil arrived. A Maltese priest with the eyes of Paul Newman and the heart of Mother Theresa, Father Alex gathered the people and started building a community. Now there is a church, childcare, an orphanage, a clinic and clean water.

One of the Peruvian ladies I treated
One of the Peruvian ladies I treated

The situation required me to be very flexible, because everything in Peru changes all the time. Working in multiple treatments rooms, I was called upon to touch, listen, ask questions and be resourceful. I used Tuina (which I learned in China), hydrotherapy (which I learned in my homeland, the Czech Republic), Shiatsu and reflexology. Medical students from the University of Chicago and Oregon Health & Science University were shadowing me most of the time.

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In the treatment room.
In the treatment room.

One day a lady named Maria came in for treatment for her migraines. She was in her 40’s, with short hair and bright eyes, difficult to hold eye contact. When I touched her shoulder, her muscle tone was that of the stone. I listened, smelled and looked. Then I asked what happened in her life eight years ago, when the migraines started. Her eyes welled up and she told me her story. I had the feeling that possibly for the first time someone really heard her. I did a needle treatment for her, but I think what really shifted her condition was just simple human touch and the ability to listen deeply.

Coca tea, used by locals for alleviating symptom of elevation sickness.
Coca tea, used by locals for alleviating symptom of elevation sickness.
Colca Valley
Colca Valley

All around the planet, there is a great need for work we do. Peru is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.

Local women at the market (Southern Peru)
Local women at the market (Southern Peru)

If you want to travel and make a difference, this is your chance.

I recommend a mission because it is a nice combination of work in a clinic and 30 minutes down the road is Arequipa, the regional capital—a Spanish-style town with beautiful architecture.

The organization I travel with is Health Bridges International, Inc. You can find all the information on their website: www.hbint.org.

If you want to go directly to Arequipa, contact Father Alex via email.

With my fellow Missioner Katarina.
With my fellow Missioner Katarina.