There is an ancient African proverb that states “it takes a village to raise a child”, I would like to rephrase the proverb and say that “it takes a village to run a clinic.”
Last week I was placed in my toughest position thus far during my time at La Maternidad. My job for the day was to call patients in to see the Doctors… sounds pretty simple, right? No. I encountered two very large problems with this task: 1. all of the records at the clinic are handwritten and some of the handwriting was very difficult to read; 2. Peruvians have very long and very hard to pronounce names. With a smile on my face I proudly entered the waiting room to announce the name of the next patient, each person in the waiting room did not hesitate to correct me and to provide me with the proper pronunciation of the name. My struggles with the names made me realize how very patient and understanding all of the staff have been with me since the moment I arrived in Chimbote.
La Maternidad is blessed with a staff comprised of some of the most kindhearted and dedicated individuals that I have ever met. Their love and pride for their work is seen in all that they do and felt the moment you walk through the door to the center.
Agusto is always wearing a hat and thus has been nicknamed Berreta, and is the first person to greet you at the security desk when you enter the clinic. He is also the (very proud) owner of the white taxi used to take items too large to cary in our hands on home visits. His white taxi is falling apart at the seams but he is so very proud to chauffeur us around and to strike up a conversation with me when ever I walk past him. Earlier this week I was telling him how upset I was to be leaving Chimbote and how a piece of my heart will forever remain here after I’m gone. He responded by saying that my heart has influenced him and many here in Chimbote and that I will remain in his heart forever; his words meant more to me than you will ever know.
I spend the majority of my time working in the clinic or with the orphans. Each morning I am blessed to work with the sweet staff in la posta (the clinic).
When you first enter you are greeted by Anabel. She records the patients information and then sends them back out into the waiting area until the Doctor is ready to see them. We have an amazing staff of Doctors at the clinic that work on rotating basis. They all have very different personalities and I have learned so much through listening to their consultations and watching them examine their patients.
If you are in need of a change of dressing, a minor procedure or wound care you are treated by Juana. Juana’s door is always open for me to watch her treat the patients and on one not so lucky occasion I was her patient for the morning (not to worry, I was well taken care of and learned a valuable lesson on the importance of appropriate footwear while walking in Peru).
I accompany Zoraida and Elizabeth on home visits. These two women selflessly give of themselves each and every day to provide care and concern for those who are not able to come to the clinic and the lengths in which they travel to provide this care is exemplary. The love the people of Chimbote have for Zoraida and Ellie is evident on each and every home visit.
Another worker in La Posta is Madre Jinsy. Madre is a Franciscan Sister from India who has been in Peru for almost a year. Jinsy is a registered nurse who gives of herself whole-heartedly to each and every patient that she tends to. She is an example to live by, and I am in awe of her selflessness and desire to serve. She lives in Nuevo Chimbote with two other Sisters from her Order. All three Sisters are so incredibly sweet and I have very much enjoyed the time that I have been able to spend with Jinsy in the posta and at her house.
Each day I visit Pedrito, my now one month old little orphan boy, in the Neonatal unit. I have become very close to the girls who work in the unit, especially Nerrida the woman pictured on the right in green, and those who flock to the window to say hello while I am visiting with him. It has been so amazing to monitor his progress and growth over the past month. Earlier this week I went bouncing into the unit to visit and was shocked to find his bed empty. The nurses told me that he was no longer with them. At first I was confused and wondered what this could have meant, but I soon learned that he had been moved to the orphanage since he had progressed so wonderfully and no longer needed to be in the neonatal unit. I am forever grateful to to the workers for their patience, their loving concern for the precious lives that they tend to each and every day and for their willingness to allow me to assist with feedings and of course for sharing their precious Pedrito with me.
The girls at the orphanage also hold a special place in my heart. It takes a very special person to work with sixteen children 13 of which are under the age of two. Efigenia, Gladys, Yeny, Juana, Doris, Deyza, Pilar, Beatriz, Maria Isabela and Magaly are such sweethearts. ( I am still working on getting a picture of all of us together, the task has proven to be very difficult!!)
Last, but certainly not least, are Sisters Margaret Mary and Lillian. When I first reached out to the Sisters regarding their work, Sister Lillian responded with information that would help me determine “if you would like to become a part of our Chimbote family.” Little did I know back in November when I first received that email all that this family in Chimbote would entail. The Sisters have become a part of my family and I am forever grateful for their patience, love, laughter (and there certainly has been a lot), and for welcoming me into all aspects of their family. They exemplify the message of the Gospel in their day to day work, and their faith in God has served as a daily inspiration for me. I cannot thank them enough for their hospitality and for providing me with this incredible experience.
As you can see, it takes a lot of people to run this clinic (there are 120 on the payroll), but it takes a family to provide attention and love that each patient receives when they enter the doors of the Maternidad. I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to experience this love. Centro de Obras Sociales is truly an oasis of hope and love and I am reminded of these values each and every day as I serve alongside these wonderful people who have become “mi familia”.
Love from Peru,