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Medical Mission: Saving Lives and Making an Impact

By Erica DerBoghossian  |  5/16/2019

Erica DerBoghossian is a nurse with the Maternal Child Health team at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie. This past April, she took personal time to embark on a medical mission with Healing the Children Northeast, Inc., to Ica, Peru. To make the journey possible, she received support from colleagues and friends. Erica discusses her experiences abroad and the impact it had.

In April 2019, I participated in a medical mission to Ica, Peru, to provide much-needed cleft lip and palate repair to underprivileged children in the region. Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur when a baby's lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy.

Children in the region have little to no access to healthcare services. As a result, families travel from all over the country to seek treatment. Some travel nearly three days and come from as far as the Amazon to our location in the Peruvian Andes and Highlands.

Our mission team consisted of 38 medical professionals from the Northeast, Texas and California. This operation is made possible by hundreds of volunteers and donations.

During the nine-day mission, we screened and assisted more than 130 patients and performed 78 life-changing surgeries.

Volunteers include the entire medical staff and convents that housed families who traveled from afar. In addition, locals cooked for families at the convents or waiting in the hospital, while others entertained those in the waiting room for hours with puppets, music and games.&

While working, I met natives who were "modern" and educated, while others were very primitive, still living in tribes and speaking an indigenous language called Quechua. All of them were beautiful, loving and so grateful for our services. 

I feel so honored and blessed to have been a part of something this large. Words cannot describe the impact this trip had on me; I have never been more grateful and humbled in my life.

I learned more than I could have ever imagined during my time in Peru and the reward is more than incredible. This is an experience I will never forget.