Awralla and I had the opportunity to volunteer in a small health clinic in Huanchaquito, one of the three shanty towns near Huanchaco. Each morning we would have a hectic bus journey, involving precarious weaving in and out of speeding vehicles, pedestrians and speed bumps. In the clinic, we were responsible for weighing the patients, measuring their heights and blood pressures; as part of a local anaemia campaign, we learned how to take blood, a useful skill. In addition, we thought it would be helpful to give a presentation to the children in NAFE, an after school club. We talked about the importance of a balanced diet to an enthusiastic and engaged audience.
This was an invaluable hands-on experience, especially as Awralla and I have the intention of applying to medical school this year. We felt our efforts in the clinic were useful due to the lack of staff. This was not the only problem. There was also no running water, only one doctor and lots manual work, no computers, and basic equipment such as manual weighing scales. Due to the lack of running water, Awralla decided to invest some of her money the labour work cost to install the new water plug.
We were also fortunate enough to observe in Hospital Belen, a hospital in Trujillo. I will never forget the moment when we walked in, and after only a few minutes, we were walking in the blood of a man, who was having his arm sutured, following an occupational injury. Health care in Peru is differs drastically to health care in England. For example, oxygen tanks being left around the hospital, whereas in England, they would be stored in a secure location and isolation rooms left open.
My time in Peru was unlike any other of my previous experiences, and I feel so lucky.
Written by Celine Simmons