Posted By: Erin Olsen on July 9, 2012

Labels: Peru , Volunteers

Volunteers in Peru

In just the first week of the New Horizon’s mission in Peru, more than 2000 patients have been seen and treated. Project HOPE volunteers have been critical to the successful medical site in San Clemente. 

Although all of the patients leave an impression on the volunteers, some cases stand out more than others, especially the ones where the effort of the medical staff makes a lasting difference.  

Chufu, a 13-year old boy from a nearby district, was brought to the clinic by a concerned neighbor and local policeman.  He suffers from an autoimmune disease that often causes a butterfly-like rash on the face, around the eyes, and causes photosensitivity.  Chufu had painful lesions and skin damage in a similar formation, and his eyes were badly damaged and milky white.  

His neighbor reported that his family was so afraid that Chufu’s condition was contagious, that he had been sent to live with his grandmother.  She kept him out of school and made him work in the sun all day picking cotton.  At night, he was locked away in his room.  

After he was brought to the medical site in Peru, however, the dermatology staff treated him and the family was educated on his condition.  They immediately began to understand his medical issues better and were more cooperative.  

Many factions of the New Horizons mission came together to take on his case including Project HOPE volunteers, U.S. Air Force medical team, U.S. Marine Corps civil affairs liaisons and the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. His case is being investigated and his long-term medical and social issues are being addressed.  

Volunteers in Peru

The day following Chufu’s treatment, he returned with his mother and sisters, and a new pair of sunglasses issued by the New Horizon’s optical team.He also came with a newfound confidence and spent most of the morning running around the clinic making friends and hanging out with Project HOPE volunteers. 

Melissa Alvarez, a nurse practitioner student from Miami and first-time Project HOPE Volunteer, witnessed Chufu’s overnight transformation,  “It’s amazing to see how education goes such a long way; just explaining his illness to the family turned everything around [for Chufu].”   

Improving people’s health is the main goal of Project HOPE and this story is just one of many successes our volunteers have experienced on this mission.

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