Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cochabamba 2008 Team is forming:

Project Helping Hands is trying to get a full team of volunteers this year to travel to Cochabamba, Bolivia in July for 14 days. The cost went up to $1,900 this year which is holding back many of us. I really wanted to participate again this year but between the financial disarray we are in here at home... I am unfortunately not going to be able to pull it off.
The cost of the trip is $1,900 however there is still other expenses involved, plus medical supplies. I am horrible at asking people for donations... or money. My world is small, meaning I don't travel in a pack nor do alot of socializing outside of work. Work is pretty much my life.
Hopefully next yr I will be able to go. Oh well :o(

Dr.Chris passed his USA exam!!

Dr.Chris passed his USA doctor's exam so he can now practice in the USA. He is trying very hard to land a residency position here however it is not going so well. He has received quite a few rejections so far which has forced him to start applying in Spain where he would be close to his Uncle who is a surgeon. I pray things work out for him. He is giving it his all!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dr.Chris is in the USA!!

Dr.Christian Abel Amurrio Gonzales is in Washington, DC staying with his Uncle for a few months so he can work on his English while studying for his exam to get his USA doctors license. Chris is volunteering one day a week in Washington. He is also helping his Uncle who owns his own business.
I am trying to make arrangements to bring Chris to central NY where he can mentor with Dr.Halliday, the otolaryngologist/facial plastics surgeon I work for now. It will be a short stay as Chris has responsibilities in Washington, and I am paying for his travel expenses and hotel room which means that it will need to be a fairly short stay.
If we had an extra bedroom, I would gladly have him stay with us at the house but our house is just too small.
We'll see what happens. ** The above picture is of Dr Chris in examination of a Bolivian woman at one of our make-shift clinics. It took place in a traditional one room building where we hung curtains to divide it up in to exam rooms.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Things that come to mind:

Although my Bolivian mission has come and go, many continuing thoughts and ideas come to mind. These are random thoughts mind you.
1) Most people drive around with toilet paper on their dashboard. Strangest thing you've seen!!
Modesty is not an option in Bolivia. Because you won't find public bathrooms, people squat where ever and when ever the need arises. I may have mentioned this in a prior post but as an example..... at a check-point while enroute from LaPaz to Cochabamba via mini-bus, we saw a traditionally dressed woman cross the road and squat right there on the roads edge, situated in a small run down village. The thing that allowed her to do so without embarrassment was her traditional dress. Her hind end wasn't exposed - her dress kept her covered.... unlike us gals who wear jeans. ;-o
And believe me, we Americans had to make pit stops while on that 7 hr journey from LaPaz to Cochabamba!! What a site among all these black haired, dark skinned people of Bolivia.... a group of white hinnies squating behind a pile of rocks.

2) You can not find T-Shirts in a true XL size. Because the Bolivian people are small built, they have no need for such sizes. We went all over to various street vendors and shopping markets. Impossible!! Their smalls fit an American child, their XLg fits a small to medium sized American. Very strange!! So don't expect to bring home souvenir T-Shirts for anyone truly larger than a size medium.

3) No post cards anywhere!! I wanted to send home post cards to my friends, sponsors and relatives however out of all the cities, communities and markets we visited, there was not one post-card to be found. I suppose they don't get a lot of "tourists" there. There is no glamor or luxury to be enjoyed as most vacationers seek.
The country of Bolivia is beautiful and I actually respect the Bolivians for being able to hold on to their traditional culture for so very long. It is like stepping back in to the 1800's yet for some reason, the conditions are even worse.
Now having said that, I am talking rural areas outside the big cities. LaPaz & Cochabamba do have modernization within their homes. They have regular electricity and wood floors, glass windows, etc.

4) We traveled through those two cities, and many rural communities. Not one free standing "store" to be seen. All businesses are made like garages with a garage door that rolls down to close up. Kind of what we have here in the malls. Iron gates or roll down security doors to keep people out after mall hours.

5) Money talks! They don't need to worry about tests and licensing. All they need is bolivianos to pay the clerk to bypass the testing. No traffic tickets if you have bolivianos to pay the officer. (Not that they utilize traffic laws) ;-o
The whole country seems to be in disarray due to lack of enforced laws, mismanagement of money such as not collecting fines from law breakers, instead the officers pocket the funds which does not help the community any. Those fines could be used for bettering the roads or other things.

6) So many people there have not have the benefit of schooling yet are very smart when it comes to being observant, common sense, and knowing what to say. Very strange.

7) We Americans can't seem to realize that just because we have laws that require us to go to school, and due to that, we can read & write..... we as Project Helping Hands volunteers, kept assuming each Bolivian we encountered, could read. As an example, we tested over 1,000 people for reading glasses by asking them to read words on a religous brochure.... without the glasses, then with them on. As they stumbled, unable to read the words, we assumed it was poor vision... until we then got smart and started asking them "IF" they can read.
Some times we are a tad slow ourselves!!
We don't realize just how fortunate we Americans are when it comes to education, civilization, even our government as screwed up as it is with self serving politicians.... we have it so much better than Bolivia and other foreign governments. Honestly!!

Well, I guess I have thought enough for today!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Supplies sent off to Cochabamba, Bolivia

Yesterday I finally shipped out a box of supplies to Dr.Elizabeth Rivero who is a beautiful person. She is a pediatrician in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She runs a clinic that her dad started many years ago. He to is a pediatrician/ surgeon. They provide care to many patients who have no money to pay for services. They do have patients who are able to pay which helps them stay afloat. I want to try to ship her supplies and donations as often as I can because she will utilize them the best she can. She provides free meds and supplies to some German ladies who travel out to the country (poverish undeveloped areas) where they provide basic first aid & care for free. So she will most likely use some of my donations to help support the efforts of the German ladies with much needed supplies.
It feels really good to be able to do this. I wish that I were wealthy instead of living from week to week so I could help them more. As it is, I try to set aside a little money each payday so I can send stuff to them. I wish more people knew just how bad things are over there. My heart cries out to them. The sad thing is, Bolivia is the poorest, most under developed country in South America but there are many other countries that are equally as poor and undeveloped.
With today's technology and wages... there is no reason on earth for ANY country to be living in such unhealthy, undeveloped conditions. Why should there be anybody living without running water or electricity? They have no refrigeration for there foods. Their meat consists of butchered chickens that are not refrigerated which is one reason these folks are infested with internal parasites.
I'm sorry but I am so very passionate about getting these folks help.... I can't think of much else.

Bolivian doctor : Dr.Christian Amurrio Gonzales

I am so very excited to announce that a wonderful young doctor that worked with us in Bolivia will be coming to North America next Saturday to continue his education and test for his USA doctor license!!! Yeah!!
Dr.Christian Amurrio Gonzales will be traveling to Washington DC where his uncles live. He'll be studying around that area I am guessing. He has full support of his family which drastically helps.

He also wants to practice his English language however I can honestly say, Chris speaks clearer English than many of our foreign doctors that immigrated here. He's very intelligent but a little shy and quiet. Christian is a handsome young man that will have all the American girls falling to his feet.

He came here to the USA before but was unable to finish. He took the medical exam here and passed. He just missed the exam on interpersonal relations between patient and doctor due to something he didn't agree with. Methods of
breaking the bad news or something.

We told him to just give them the answer "they" want whether or not he believes it is wrong.

Here is a picture of Chris examining a patient in Bolivia.

Please keep him in your prayers and wish him the best of wishes so he can complete his required measures to get his USA doctors license.
He has a lot of doctoring to do!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


We went to see the performance of Jach'a Mallku at a theater in Cochabamba. These links are to video clips taken of the group by others. They're not of the performance we saw as I have yet to figure out how to upload them.