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 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. Their many donations are the primary source of funding for the clinic, and sometimes they also donate medicines or provide courier service for supplies that have been donated in the U.S. The Rotarians of several cities, plus the Rotary International Foundation, raised over $35,000 for the materials for the original clinic, and nearly twice that much to construct the new one, in addition to donating many, many hours of their labor. Multiple other Rotary Clubs have made donations, as have many individual Rotarians. The Jack DeLoss Taylor Foundation has been a very generous source of support for many years, and Optimist Clubs, Lions Clubs, and various church and school groups also have provided support. Finally, on grounds that I don’t want to foster dependence, the patients themselves are asked for a small contribution to their care. (Their payments average roughly $2.00 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 provide printing services 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 informing the Amazon Medical Project, Inc.; Kim Stokes, who handles all our U.S. administrative chores; and many friends who help in 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 a handful of leftover vitamins. There’s no guarantee as to how long it will all hold together; as I age, I am spending more time in Wisconsin. For the last few years, I have been spending half of each year in the U.S., both for my sanity and our 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 our patients.
But I still feel lucky to be doing what I am doing, and am immensely proud of our Peruvian staff and their abilities.
|Photo Credit: Dan Freuchte