This blog post is written by Pallavi Tatapudy, MS4 at Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University who served as co-leader of the 2017 medical and surgical mission to Sacred Valley, Perú organized by A Promise to Peru.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” -Anne Frank

Today, a few key team members reached the clinic early around 7:15 am to start the registration, intake, and pupil dilation processes. The majority of us left Hotel Zeus by 7:25 am. When we walked in to the clinic, we were delightfully greeted by David Guacho, Wilson Rosales, Sarah Marjane, Lucy Miller-Suchet, Rocio Asitimbay, and Dr. Rodrigo Hinojosa who were laughing together like the loving family that they are. I thought to myself, “How lucky we are to join this hard-working and humble family.”

The area outside the operating rooms was bustling all morning due to the high volume of new patients and returning post-operative patients. The 20 patients from yesterday arrived promptly to be evaluated by Dr. Carlos Gonzalez, the main ophthalmologist at FIBUSPAM, and his son, Cesar Gonzalez, who is an optometrist.

One of the patients who was waiting there with a wide grin was Señor Oswaldo. He waved excitedly to me as I peered my head out to call the family members of a patient who had just finished surgery and was deemed stable enough for discharge. I gestured for Señor Oswaldo to come over and we exchanged good wishes. He told me that last night went very smoothly and that he is eager to have his vision assessed today. Señor Oswaldo made a strong impression in my mind for the way he altruistically assisted several patients in the clinic yesterday who were waiting next to him, offering to pull their socks up higher or explaining the benefits of staying calm before surgery. He provided an even-mindedness and serene atmosphere for himself and others which we all appreciated. I wish Señor Oswaldo good luck with his recovery and am glad I had the chance to affirm him and express that his helpful nature is a great quality that I hope to imbibe as well. ¡Buena suerte, amigo!

Another patient named María had a successful surgery and was yearning to reunite with her husband. I was grateful to be the one that could bring them together after a morning filled with a myriad of instructions AND a surgery. This couple in their late 70s felt so elated at first glance of the other. Their love was palpable. They quickly held hands as if that was their natural position and the only way their hands knew how to be, and comforted each other with an evergreen sweetness. Then, María excitedly shared with me that they have been married for 50 beautiful years. ¡Felicitaciones por su amor precioso!

Surgeries continued amidst ongoing construction on the upper floors of the clinic on the opposite side of the operating rooms. We took breaks in shifts to eat a tasty lunch of soup with pasta, chicken soup, rice, omelets, and seasoned vegetables.

Today, we completed twenty-six surgeries and twenty post-operative follow-up visits. We left the clinic by 7:50 pm and reached the hotel by 8:05 pm. Now, time to eat some dinner and sleep. ¡Gracias a Dios!