Of nearly 70 applicants this year, 31 medical students were selected to attend this year’s mission trip.
Starting in January of this year, students began meeting twice monthly. Important topics discussed included social issues, clinical issues, research projects and involvement, fundraising events, medical Spanish classes, and many others.
In addition to these meetings, roughly ten students in leadership roles met with Dr. Willyerd and Joseph Gorz on a weekly basis over Skype. Those meetings were conducted in order to allow the students to voice their concerns, and update the trip coordinators. These meetings also ensured that the trip remained a student-led trip. While Dr. Willyerd and Dr. Gorz serve as leaders, this is truly a mission trip organized and run by students. Research coordinators also met with Shane Sargent on a weekly basis.
Some of our fundraising events included bake sales, bowl-a-thons at local bowling alleys, date-a-doc faculty fundraiser, and a fun euchre tournament.
In July students will gather at the MSUCOM DMC campus to participate in research briefing and training, and to pack supplies. This event is colloquially referred to as our “med packing party” and it remains one of the best opportunities for students to continue to meet and get to know each other before embarking on the trip of a lifetime to Peru. During this “party” students will divide and pack over $200,000 worth of medications and supplies into suitcases. Each student will carry roughly 40 extra pounds of these supplies with them, and must find creative ways to fit their clothes and gear around them. Be on the lookout for pictures from this event in the near future!
Continue reading below for specific details about the trip itself.
The Trip: 2015
The trip this year will be very similar to previous years. Our mission will have two main projects serving as the focus: the Iquitos Medical Campaign and the Amazon River Campaign.
In early August, trip participants will arrive in Lima, where they will spend the next three and a half days becoming acquainted with the new environment and culture. Two of those days will be spent touring a medical school and then a teaching hospital in Lima. A presentation will be given at each facility, including a very focused and interactive OMT demonstration and clinic.
Iquitos Medical Campaign
Next on the itinerary will be a flight to Iquitos, where students will spend the majority of the next four days providing basic medical care and education to locals from the surrounding areas. Iquitos is situated beautifully on the base of the Amazon in the shadows of the great Andes mountains. It is here that students will meet and treat their first patients out of a standing structure that will be supplied with the materials they brought in their suit cases. We have patients traveling from all across the region to meet us in Iquitos. Some even come from over 14 hours away (on foot!) over the Andes to reach us. News of our arrival reaches members of the surrounding communities by word of mouth and our clinic is anticipated by many over this vast region. For some, these four days of clinic have become an annual sojourn that provides relief and healing.
Amazon River Medical Campaign
Once these powerful days in Iquitos come to an end the group next travels, via boat on the Amazon, to a lodge they will spend the remaining days of the mission.
The Amazon River originates in Peru and exists as a world of mystery and grandeur. Its towering forest and rushing waters harbor such an incomparable diversity of life that scientists are still working to classify it all: 2,000 species of fish, more than those in the Atlantic Ocean; 4,000 species of birds, including 120 hummingbirds; 60 species of reptiles such as the caiman and anaconda, the world’s largest non-poisonous snake; and mammals such as the marmoset, anteater, tapir, capybara, and pink dolphin. At its widest point in Brazil, the mighty Amazon River is 40 miles across. Oceangoing vessels can sail the 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean upriver to Iquitos, Peru’s major port on the Upper Amazon.
For three days our providers will venture down the Amazon on a medically-stocked river boat, called The Amazon Queen. Each day they will travel to a new village along the bank, providing care to the residents of that village. Along the way they will have opportunities to explore canopies, meet and play with primates and parrots, and enjoy their own fresh-caught piranhas for dinner.
From there, participants will either return to their homes in the United States, or embark upon exciting adventures to destinations such as Machu Picchu or other South American countries.