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Home » Features » The Needs Are So Many...

The Needs Are So Many...
A conversation with Dr. Aníbal Zambrano and Katy Zambrano
by Graciela N.V. Corvalan

It is very difficult to measure the impact of a particular mission, but here are some stories to show what happens. A neurosurgeon from Washington D.C. joined the Iquitos mission quite late. The day she arrived, a young man had a motorcycle accident and broke his skull. He had serious cerebral bleeding, and there was no neurosurgeon in town. She, of course, set to work immediately and saved his life. In Cajamarca there was a lady who had a cleft palate. She couldn't speak and her face was very disfigured. The doctors fixed her problem and, of course, they changed her life. If she had been the only person treated, it would have been worth the effort. And there are many, many other similar cases.

Q. How do you select the cities?

A. The directors of the missions make the selection. They normally go to their own town or city of origin, but there are other considerations as well. We try to go to towns outside Lima, the capital, because they will benefit more from these missions. It's also very important to have good contacts in the area. The cities where these missions normally go are: Abancay, Ayacucho, Cuzco, Arequipa, Cajamarca and, most recently, Iquitos.

Q. How do you divide the workload? I mean, who does certain things and who does other things?

A. Katy, with local volunteers, is in charge of packing all the instruments and medical supplies. When we went to Iquitos, we sent over three tons of medical equipment and supplies, and everything was packed here in the house-this place became like a supply center. Everything had to leave St. Louis two months before we did because it takes a month or more to get to Iquitos! Everything went by land to Miami, by ship to Brazil, and from the port of Belen in Brazil up the Amazon River to Iquitos.

Q. What is your role, Aníbal?

A. Well, when you are the director you have to organize everything-recruit the doctors and other volunteers, raise money, get the equipment and medical supplies, make sure that all the equipment works, and plan the trip. We also have to contact the local hospitals and doctors. Without their collaboration, we can do nothing. And, of course, we have to take care of all the bureaucratic paperwork required when one takes medical equipment and supplies through customs. This is one of the most difficult tasks of the whole project.


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