Finishing in Arequipa

Our group is smaller tonight, as seven of our company left Arequipa on a 9 PM flight to Lima. The St. Kate’s contingent (Kate, Krystal, Molly, Sara and Tessa) have an early flight back to the United States Saturday morning. Kevin and Carolyn are flying from Lima to Cusco in the morning to visit Macchu Picchu and other sites before returning to Canada Monday night. Emily, Laura and Mary Jo will fly back to Lima and on home tomorrow afternoon, leaving several more of us who are staying here for a few more days of rest and meetings before we return home later in the week. Today we worked primarily with folks from Ilo, a fishing community close to the Chilean border that we visited last year. One lone girl who traveled from Puno won our hearts when we heard the story of her journey to Arequipa to our clinic. Norma (age 17) has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and can not walk because of pain and weakness. She was supposed to be part of our wheelchair clinic with others from Puno on Tuesday, but she never arrived. Little did we know that her mother had carried her for three hours to catch the bus that would bring them to Arequipa, only to miss it! They were so disappointed and were certain they had lost Norma’s chance to have a wheelchair. But they tried again today – another three hour walk for Paulina, carrying 17 year old Norma – and this time they caught the bus and arrived safely in Arequipa. They were worried that missing the Tuesday appointment would mean we would send them away, but our team went to great lengths to assure them that there was a chair for Norma. What strength and determination – it was an honor to meet them.

Norma and her mother, ready to head home.

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