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From Mountain Tops to River Bottoms: Mission Trip 2010

A team of 23 Huguley employees and friends travelled to villages along the Amazon River in Peru to provide medical and dental care and teach proper hygiene to local tribes.  Here, they take a break and visit the ruins of Machu Picchu. 

Imagine drifting down the mighty Amazon River in a wooden, flat bottom boat. The waters are swift and deep, at some points reaching a depth of 90 feet. A boy is stationed at the front of the boat, guiding the pilot around timbers downed by recent flooding. One of the timbers escapes his detection and rams the boat, causing the boat to take on water. The pilot moves quickly to repair the damage using…paper towels. He plugs the hole with the towels, nails a loose board over the top of the damaged bottom and instructs all 26 passengers to move to the other side of the boat.

No, this is not a scene from one of the action-packed Indiana Jones movies but an actual event that took place on a recent mission trip to Indiana, Peru by a team of Huguley physicians and employees.

Not to worry; the paper towel plug held, and everyone made it to shore without incident.

Despite the mishap, Senior Vice President Tammy Collier – who served as team leader – said the trip was fantastic, and she would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get involved.

Each day the team would travel downstream and visit one or two villages along the Amazon. Through their guide – a local Peruvian named Ronata – the team attained permission from the tribal leader to provide medical and dental care for the villagers, and teach proper hygiene as well.

Dr. Dennis Haslam provided medical care during the team’s stay in Peru. He recalls treating several of the villagers, including one man with a large abscess. “You could tell it was tender and caused him a lot of pain, but all the man was concerned about was being able to work and keep functioning so he could support his family.”

He was impressed with the villagers’ gratitude, mentioning one family he had treated for parasites, a common ailment due to the lack of a fresh water supply. “The next day the man came back and gave me two hand-carved dolphins made out of redwood to give to my daughters. I tried to pay him for them but he wouldn’t let me. He just wanted to show how grateful he was.”

Tammy applauds those who helped make the trip possible.  Successful fundraisers greatly reduced out-of-pocket expenses. “If the people of Huguley Hospital didn’t support us with their donations and prayers, we wouldn’t be able to further the healing ministry of Christ in this way. We are so grateful.”