Last Thursday, community coordinators Lydia and myself (Sarah) spent the night with promotora Valentina so that we could support her in an early morning presentation in Rayan. After a delicious porridge breakfast with dried corn from Valentina’s garden, we headed down the mountainside to the community’s meeting space. She chose to teach her community how to make an oral rehydration solution, a treatment used for dehydration caused by diarrhea. Her presentation went very well and one of the mothers had a baby with diarrhea, so she was able to immediately make use of this new treatment.
Before heading back to Ollantaytambo, Valentina notified us that gringos (local term for white people) were visiting Marcuray, a neighboring community, so we should go with her to see what they were doing. We traversed the mountain to Marcuray and then waited for about an hour for the mystery gringos to arrive.
By the time the first two visitors arrived, the whole community was gathered in anticipation. The visitors came straight up to Lydia and me, and seemed relieved and surprised to find English speakers in such a remote place. One of the women, a doctor from Canada, had fallen off her horse on the trail up to Marcuray and had badly hurt her hand and shoulder. SVH promotoras Ignacia and Valentina immediately took action. Ignacia ran down to her house to get her first aid kit and a pitcher of boiled water. Valentina thoroughly scrubbed her hands with soap and clean water and put on gloves and began cleaning the wound on the woman’s hand.
Slowly more of the Canadian medical mission team began to arrive, exhausted from their climb, and were amazed to find their doctor being treated by local Andean women. Lydia and I were overcome with pride. Ignacia and Valentina not only impressed the entire community of Marcuray, all of whom were gathered around this spectacle, but they had also impressed the visitors. One of the Canadians remarked on Valentina’s thoroughness, especially her use of gloves. The visiting team had a sling in their supply bag, and even though the SVH promotoras had never seen this type of sling before, they were able to secure it comfortably for the doctor in no time.
While visiting medical teams may have a lot to offer during short stays in the Sacred Valley, our promotoras provide basic care in an ongoing, sustainable way. The knowledge that they gain through training will benefit their remote communities for years and years to come. We are grateful for their heartfelt dedication to building their skills and serving their communities!
– Written by Sarah Phillips