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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.