The Climb to Marcuray

For some it was the hardest thing they had ever done in their lives. For others it was just another day on the job. And for one little girl it was a daily commute to and from school. Our hike to Marcuray for a health campaign at the local elementary school took almost two hours, involved a net elevation change of almost 500 meters, and featured about an hour of punishing switchbacks up a mountainside.

The trek to Marcuray highlights the challenges that SVH staff and our university partners face in reaching the most remote communities of the Sacred Valley of the Inca. Marcuray’s isolation limits the resources available to residents, since most NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and district-level government officials are unwilling to venture to communities that can only be reached on foot. Low interest from the government and NGOs means that families in Marcuray have little access to health care – a sick person must walk or be carried by a mule for at least a couple of hours before reaching the road and seeking a ride to the closest government health clinic.

Taking a breather on the ascent.
Nurses from St. John Fisher University taking a breather on the ascent.
The community of Marcuray.
The community of Marcuray.
The view from Marcuray.
The view from Marcuray.

The visiting nurses from St. John Fisher University and SVH staff members valiantly trekked up the mountain carrying plenty of supplies, including toothbrushes and paste, for this underserved community. The Marcuray school was the smallest that the SJF nurses visited during their time in Peru, but the visit was especially impactful because of the community’s isolation. The nurses performed head to toe physicals and taught students about nutrition, tooth brushing, and hand washing. It may have been the first time that some of the children had received a physical exam from a medical professional. The SJF nurses also distributed toothbrushes, toothpaste, fluoride treatments, and multivitamins. The Marcuray teachers will make sure the students take the vitamins and brush their teeth at school. These resources are aimed at curbing the high rates of tooth decay, cavities, and malnutrition in this community.

Promotora Ignacia teaches students how to wash their hands.
Promotora (community health worker) Ignacia teaches students how to wash their hands.
SJF nurse Stephanie illustrates proper tooth brushing technique.
SJF nurse Stephanie illustrates proper tooth brushing technique, and a student tries it out.

Thanks to their willingness to tackle the tough hike, the SJF nurses got to see a rarely-visited area and provide check-ups and health education to children who live far, far off the tourist track. Several of the nurses remarked that they were motivated on the climb by the thought of how the people living in Marcuray do the same trek on a regular basis in order to get resources essential for day-to-day life. A Marcuray child who wants to continue his or her studies beyond primary school has to do the 4 hour roundtrip hike every single day just to attend classes.  A big thank you to the SJF nurses for taking on this challenging assignment and providing invaluable onsite health services!

Broad smiles all around.
Broad smiles all around at the Marcuray school.

 – Written by Daniel Alvarez

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s