It was an experience that will live with me forever. One word encompasses it all :- beautiful.
The communities were simple, often without even basic amenities, the landscape could be stark, but the warmth that came from everyone was outstanding.
The country and its people are awe inspiring, from the hazardous snaking roads trailing up the Apurimac, to the hand woven flashes of costume seen treking towards us from afar.
I won't need photos to remind me of the dozens of smiling children patiently sat each day, all with hats and the girls with pigtail plaits tied together, laughing faces and dusty feet.
If you consider volunteering listen to Jacqui and Clark, they know their stuff. Altitude was no problem for me, but I did need the advised acclimatisation time to feel at full strength. Without it you do risk your health. Clark helped me prepare well in minute detail with a totally personally planned schedule of tours, and a mountain bike ride and a wind down trip afterwards to Machu Picchu.
Thank you Jacqui and Clark. I won't forget your selfless care and generosity to me or to the communities, and thank you for giving me the chance to never forget Peru.
Visiting the Apurimac was a most uplifting experience - the terrain itself, the people and the company. It was a real pleasure helping the villagers - people who have so little, yet always smiling and laughing, and obviously happy. It is a privilege to help, and I look forward to being able to continue for some time. On returning home, one realises how materialistic the Western World has become - always needing bigger and better things. In one way the dwellers in the Apurimac have a lot going for them - wonderful people.
Liz & Graeme Roberts
I was moved by Jacqui Nimmo's story of the people of the Apurimac region of Peru and inspired by her determination to relieve the dental suffering of the remote and needy village folk.Her website www.dentalprojectperu.org added to my resolve to visit Peru and these remarkable people. I was not disappointed. Having recently returned from one of the six trips organised by Jacqui since her article in the British Dental Journal, I can honestly say that it was one of the most rewarding and fascinating experiences of my career to date. Sharing the warmth and joyful nature of communities that have so little and being made welcome by rows of apprehensive yet friendly faces was a truly humbling experience. In one village where none of the mud houses were big enough to accommodate us and our portable dental chairs nor light enough for us to work, we opted to work outdoors with the llamas and awesome views across the Andes. This is a vision I have brought back to my surgery and serves to remind me of the diversity of cultures and the privileges that we sometimes take for granted. How different things could be!The ongoing plan to train local health care professionals in basic pain-relieving dentistry will help to make the project more sustainable. For any reader interested in this work or in donating towards it may I urge you to visit the website or the Project.
If you can cope with a bit of rough living, and want to challenge your clinical skills by working in difficult conditions, then sign up for this!
Spectacular scenery, charming people and wonderful children.This is an opportunity to see the Peru the tourists miss and to do something really worthwhile.Jacqui gives inspirational leadership and her sleeping mat is a thing of wonder (think "Princess and the Pea").This was an amazing and rewarding trip.I wouldn't have missed it for anything!
Trip 5 - 1st-8th September 2005.
I`d like to share a little about the wonderful, inspiring, life-changing experience I had in the Apurimac with Dental Project Peru. It was a chance to put my dental skills to really good use and changed the way I think about my career. It was also a great chance to experience a side of Peruvian culture that very few tourists get to see. The people of the Apurimac were friendly and generous with what little they had. It was humbling to receive eggs or potatoes as a gift when they have so little. Most of them were grateful for the chance to have their pain and suffering relieved as they have no other access to dental care. The children are friendly and playful, most of them made excellent patients, although unfortunately if you got one that was scared of the dentist and started to cry, the other children in the room would cry and it would start a cycle which could make work a lot more difficult! Otherwise, the dentistry went a lot better than I thought. The equipment was very good considering it was all portable and although most people received just extractions, we were also able to do a significant number of fillings, especially in the lovely village of Pfaco. We had a really great team - Jacqui of course, Gillian from Scotland, Yesenia our Peruvian dentist and Leo, our driver and assistant. We worked well together and really got on well, despite the language differences. I was lucky enough to speak some Spanish, but fun nights with a pack of cards and shared jokes made communication much easier. The language barrier made treating the patients more difficult, especially as many patients spoke only Quechua, but obviously we had plenty of practice at our non-verbal communication skills!
I felt we never had to work too hard or too long, generally finishing 4 or 5 at the latest, but we always felt we had made a difference. The living conditions were grand, only needed our sleeping bags one night and even managed 2 cold showers over the week! The toilets were always a shared joke, some of them even flushed! All part of the experience! Jacqui did a great job catering for the trip, though she wasn`t counting on me being there - it was the first time she`s come anywhere close to running out of food! There was a lot of driving but you never got bored as the scenery was just spectacular! I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone interested, it is a huge adventure, experience of a life time, and we all have unforgettable memories of it. I have tried other volunteer agencies in Peru but DPP has been the best by far, plus you know all the money donated is going to a fantastic cause and really making a difference to the lives of the Peruvian people. My advice to anyone interested would be to try to learn at least a bit of Spanish and remember to pack your sense of humour!
My time spent with Dental Project Peru enabled me to experience how harsh the conditions can be for people living below the poverty line in the Peruvian Andes. Using my dentistry skills to give them relief from dental pain and infection allowed me to feel that I have helped to alleviate some of their suffering, albeit in a small way.
The gratefulness of the patients was strongly felt and all the thanks I needed. The warmth from the children in the orphanage was enlightening, especially when they sang a song to say Thank You.
I really valued my experience with DPP and hope to return again in the future.
I have worked in tourism for 18 years now. Even though I have traveled in Peru and have reached remote areas many times, I have to say that the one trip I did with you as a volunteer was the hardest but also the most life changing experience for me. During the DPP trip, I learned from the courage of my Peruvian peers and I learned from your drive and commitment to help people living in harsh conditions in forgotten areas of Peru. I especially keep in my heart the image of this beautiful and loving dentist (Jacqui) and her crew working non-stop long hours trying to help as many people as they could in one day. Also, I will never forget the moment when this deprived, old and shoeless lady came back to us and handed to me a 2 liter coca-cola bottle filled with cow’s milk! It was her way to express her gratitude because you treated her and I gave her a couple of toothbrushes for her little grandchildren.My heart cherishes the lesson of “reciprocity” no matter how poor they are.The people from the Andean mountains they have to give you something back for any help you give them…. I am sure many blessings come your way Jacqui, you are doing so much for many people, you soul is one of those “great souls”!!
I heard of Jacqui and Dental Project Peru from a fellow Bridge2 Aid volunteer, Liz, as we travelled down a bumpy track in the Serengeti, Tanzania. Little did I know that less than 2 years later I would be in a truck with Jacqui and Clark, on an equally bumpy journey and getting a taste of their incredible mission in the Apurimac region of Peru.
I had never been to South America (or North America ), so I was a little apprehensive on arriving in Cusco but not for long. Jacqui & Clark met me at the airport, took me to the hotel, shared a brief breakfast and "left me to it". I had a ball, found a tourist office and in a short week devoured Cusco and the Inca Trail, met such characters, acclimatized to the altitude and learnt my first words of Spanish!
The dental trip was, of course, what I had gone for, and by the day of our deparure I was so excited. I joined Jacqui's friend and colleague Yessamia, a Peruvian dentist and Daniel, a friend and ex priest: two of the most fantastic people, kind, generous and truly "christian" in the broadest sense.
My memories of Peru are of music and laughter, smiles in the face of adversity and of a people totally content with their meagre lot. One could not avoid feeling humbled. The work that Jacqui is doing is awesome, truly worthwhile and effective because of her hard work and organization beforehand. NB The food is great! The highlight has to be my 54th Birthday. It began with the presentation of an enormous homemade card, the day was spent hard at work in Tambulla and my lasting memory (before we went to sleep on the clinic floor) is of being led round the village by Daniel, headlamps to guide us, in search of beer! We never did find any.
Thank you Jacqui, from the bottom of my heart, and the best of luck for your future wherever it might take you. I hope to join you again some time.
Jane & Lizzy Blackstock
As you know Lizzy and I both had an amazing experience with you on our trip. We found it hard work - we were quite exhausted afterwards! But, however it was well worth while. It did us both good to work with people from a different culture and background and gave Lizzy the chance to see the country where her Dad was born. Lizzy says it was one of the most memorable experiences of her life so far. In many ways it was life-changing for her in that following her experiences in Peru she went on to Dental School and has now completed her 2nd year at Leeds. We both hope to return in the future to help on the project again, this time Lizzy doing the dentistry and Jane doing the sterilizing!
Dental Project Peru is a Recognised Charity in the UK and the USA.
If you are a UK taxpayer, we will automatically recieve an additional 28p from the government for every pound donated to us online through the gift aid scheme.
If you are an American taxpayer, any donation made to the charity is Deductible (under section 501(c)(3))