Continued from the previous page.
The support that enables the clinic to continue functioning has come from a broad range of contributors. Explorama, as mentioned, not only feeds me and lets me live on their property, ride in their boats, and use their p.o. box and now even e-mail, but also provides the social support that keeps me in some kind of touch with my former world. Explorama’s tourists have been another huge source of support ... the main source, actually. Their many donations of money and medicines, their courier service (many people bring items donated in the States, which otherwise would have no route of transport), and the occasional contribution from their ranks of someone like Paul Gakle, all help. The Rotarians of several cities raised over $35,000 for the materials for the original clinic, and nearly twice that much to construct the new one. Other Rotary groups have given generous grants, notably the Madison, Wisconsin Rotary Club; a club in Pennsylvania paid for the digging of a deeper well; and another group of Rotarians from Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, purchased the generator we use to run our dental drill, provided funding to expand and improve our solar system in the new clinic, and sent me to Lima one August for a course on ultrasound in tropical medicine.
In addition, various Rotarians have made individual contributions, and one couple brought Juvencio and his wife to the U.S. to visit in 1995 and again in 2000. An Optimist Club in Colorado provided the funds to purchase the original vaccine refrigerator. Then there is the above-mentioned Paul Gakle, a retired engineer who visited Explorama before the original clinic was even built, and who became so interested that he took a course in writing grant proposals, using the clinic as his subject; as a result of which we received a series of grants from The International Foundation. Finally, on grounds that I don’t want to foster dependence, the patients themselves are asked for a small contribution to their own care. (Their payments average roughly $1.50 per person, a fraction of what it costs to treat them and maintain the clinic; and please note, treatment is never denied to those who can’t pay.)
I haven't even counted my family, who send me moral support and fruitcake even though I have wandered dismayingly far from their fold; Dan and Judy Peterson, who have invested countless hours not only in managing my leftover Wisconsin affairs but also in forming the Amazon Medical Project; Kim Stokes, who manages all our U.S. administrative chores; and many friends who help in a myriad ways, from providing me with watercolor paints for my spare time to sending me Christmas cards to simply being friends.
That's about it. I continue to be amazed at what has grown out of my little bag of instruments and handful of leftover vitamins. There's no guarantee as to how long it will all hold together.
For the last few years, I have been spending half of each year in the U.S., both for my own sanity and in order for my local staff to learn to be more independent of me; which means I now do about as much supervising of our Peruvian staff as I do working personally with patients. But I still feel lucky to be doing what I am doing, and am immensely proud of our Peruvian staff and their abilities.