Dr. Amy Lennon is off to Bolivia to work with Centro Medico and won’t be back until August 5th. We’ll all miss her but are excited for her involvement with this great organization!
From their website:
Centro Medico Humberto Parra strives to improve the health and well-being of poor rural Bolivian communities.
Centro Medico provides free primary healthcare, medication, health education and other health services to people who would otherwise not be able to afford them. The clinic works in partnership with the surrounding communities to enable them to lead healthy lives. Centro Medico is primarily staffed by volunteer American and Bolivian physicians and is entirely funded by private donations from Bolivia and the United States.
Below is a brief entry by Amy along with a few photos.
This summer my son & I lived in Bolivia for almost a month and I hope we will return again & again. The trip was bitter sweet because Gus got very sick, which scared us back home a bit early. Overall, we loved Bolivia, but next time we’ll get out of the big city of Santa Cruz more quickly!
We were there to see my16 year old son off, to attend a month long intensive soccer training camp called Tahuichi. Additionally, we were to go into the jungle and help out at a medical clinic, Centro Medico, which serves the indigenous people in the region. Bolivia is a very poor country and healthcare is difficult to deliver.
We flew into Santa Cruz & while there I lived with 2 different families. Luckily, my 7 year old is Spanish speaking, so he could interpret while I practiced my Spanish. Most conversations eventually were directed at Gus, within a few minutes, since my Spanish is limited! Santa Cruz is a huge city in the tropical lowlands. Our host family warmly welcomed us but within a day the weather turned very cold. In Bolivia, the people said they had not had temperatures that low in over 100 years…lucky us. We literally could not get warm; it was like camping in the cold, wet mountains, even when we were indoors because no one is prepared for this kind of cold so there are no heaters. And of course, I packed lightly – for the tropics.
The soccer experience was amazing for my older son, Hogan and the players managed to stay warm during the cold front by training over 6 hours a day. They work out on all of Bolivia’s’ varied terrain- in the river, up the sand dunes, in the high mountains, at the stadiums & villages nearby and on the Tahuichi campus. Each athlete stays with a family for the month; mostly, they just eat & sleep with the family, because their focus is 100% soccer.
The Clinic was really life changing for me. The work that the volunteers do & the services they provide truly inspiring to see. I had a very limited time there and was only able to help a handful of patients, but on a normal day the docs might work from sun up till sun down if needed. And the volunteers will make every patient as comfortable as possible as they coordinate a nearly impossible mission for them (finding a city doc to provide a free surgery, for example, after coordinating appropriate pre-op appointments, blood work & meds).
Overall, we all left the country with a deeper appreciation for the good fortune we have, and a little bit of shame in how much we waste & take for granted. The level of pride people carry themselves with is inspiring. The lack of “stuff” cluttering there life seemed to enrich their day-to-day experience appreciation for what they have. And man are these folks resourceful- not much need for recycling because they find a new use for just about everything until it’s completely used up. The lifestyle was beautiful and simple, unless of course, you needed to get something important done quickly!
There are animals everywhere; it’s not uncommon to see monkeys, tree sloths, tree frogs and dozens of different bird species, just in the clinic back woods. My son got to see a lemur scamper away from him while strolling in the woods and a tree sloth floating up high, swinging for handfuls of leaves. I would recommend a volunteer travel experience to anyone healthy and capable.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of photos.
Below: In & Around the clinic.