By: Aleisha Crowther, student writer
For ten days in March 2018, I had the opportunity to go to Peru for a humanitarian trip providing dental care. We spent the first three days in Cusco, Peru and visited Machu Picchu. Following Machu Picchu, we flew to Yurimagua, Peru to start the service part of our trip. We had a group of 17 people: two locals, and a few dentists from Peru that helped us every day. Everybody did their best to serve. Our group was amazing, always willing to help, and always there to make each other laugh. Throughout the days, we not only grew closer to each member of our group, but we also grew closer to the people of Yurimagua.
We had to take a train to the bottom of Machu Picchu, then a bus all the way to the top. We zig zagged up the side of the mountain arriving at an elevation of 7,972 feet. We spent some time looking around, exploring one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We then hiked up to Wayna Picchu ending at an elevation of 8,924 feet. With the elevation it was difficult and we were all out of breath, but we all made it to the top. It was crazy high and a very exhausting hike, but incredible when we made it to the top.
Cusco gets the majority of their income from tourism. There are many historical sites to see including Saqsaywaman, Machu Picchu, La Cathedral, the Sacred Valley and many more.
The last four days we spent in Yurimagua working in different villages. We would go to a small village, and people would line up to get dental work done. We served around 300-500 people per day working very long, hot hours. The people were very welcoming and grateful. To express gratitude, some of the people came to us after getting work done on their teeth and gave us gifts. This was amazing to me, that being so poor and having so little, they still would go out of their way to thank us. Many of the children would hug the dentist after the work was done and thank them for the service they provided. One day a little girl was watching us work through some holes in the wall. I gave her a bouncy ball and a few minutes later she came back with a candy for me. I think this is something we can all learn from, because even though she had little, she still gave me something back and told me thanks so much.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from this trip was: “It is hard to be grateful, when we focus on what we don’t have.” Comparing this to my thoughts, I realize that I can do better. I find myself comparing how pretty I am, or how much I have achieved, how focused I am, and the list could go on. But looking back to the residents in Peru, they were grateful for the small things; something that many of us would look over and not think twice about. Like someone pulling your tooth, or fixing your cavity, someone that gave you a stuffed animal, or even a small bouncy ball. You’ve got to focus on what you have and not compare to what others have. The people of Peru were happy and grateful. I learned the true meaning of happiness.
Always be grateful for others, especially when they go out of their way to help you. The little things every day that people do for you can have an impact on your life. Don’t look over the small things that people do for you because they actually might be the biggest, and most caring.
We were able to connect and bond with many of the kids and people from this trip. The hardest part for me on this trip was leaving and having to tell everybody goodbye. I didn’t what this experience to end. I am grateful for the friendships and life lessons I learned.
I am grateful for the group that came with me, and the time that I got to go and serve others. I’m grateful that my parents gave me this opportunity. My advice would be, if you get an opportunity to serve, do it willingly. I guarantee there will be someone out there grateful, and you will be filled with happiness.