2006 PFIG Recipient Anna Mapes

Career Administrator

Anna Mapes
School of Nursing
Nursing Major
2007 Graduation Year

Internship: ProPeru

Notes on the first week

My internship is in Urubamba, Peru, a small village 2900 meters in the Andean mountains an hour outside of Cuzco (the home of Machu Piccu). I am volunteering here with ProPeru, a service corps who has projects in Urubamba and its surrounding communities in healthcare, ecotourism and agriculture, women´s studies and others. I will be here for 2 months.

I am working in healthcare in two capacities. Monday through Wednesday I work at a maternity clinic in Calca, a town about a 30 minute bus ride away. There I work with an obstetrician taking blood pressures, height and weight, and general assessments of expecting mothers as well as helping with paperwork. I also spent a day taking temperatures and weights of babies coming into the hospital who were sick. The hospital was built by ProPeru for people in the mountain and other outside communities who do not have health insurance so that they may receive health care attention. Many of the women that come in speak Quechua, the language of their Incan ancestors. The others speak Spanish. Although I am getting along well with the Spanish that I already know, I am glad that part of our internship is attending daily Spanish lessons from native speakers. The hospital is unbelievably busy and she sees patients sometimes giving an injection for one patient while she is talking with another patient in the room. The doctors and staff work very hard and I have been told that they do not receive sufficient funding. Many materials like gloves and masks are limited or even not available. Also, they are not paid well for the hours that they work.

The second part of my internship is to lead a project with a group of four on teaching people about parasites, nutrition and anemia. We will meet on Thursdays and Fridays and travel to surrounding communities to do healthcare education. Many children obtain worms and other parasites through water, uncooked meat, and other means. As a result, if they do not know how to treat it, many suffer consequently from malnutrition (and as a result, anemia), diarrhea and resulting dehydration, all of which can cause extreme illness and potentially, death. The anemia rate as a result often of the parasites was shown to be as high as 85 to 90% in certain villages. We have created visual pictures, as literacy is a big factor, and plays, songs etc. to teach children and families about the necessity of boiling water, receiving sufficient nutrients and washing their hands.

Along with resources being of question, money is a very limiting factor for the health of people in many of these communities. Many do not eat any meat, maybe once or twice a week, because they have to sell it in the market. We are trying to think of ways to facilitate nutrition and prevention within their means.

As a group of volunteers, there are 20 of us, we are also doing mini-projects for the communities. This weekend we will split up and work to built 5 bathrooms. Others are working on building stoves.

I am learning so much about the culture and practices of this community and find it to be a beautiful place full of tradition and history. I hope to contribute to their community in a positive way. Thus far, I have felt very welcomed and our services have been appreciated very much.


I have now been in Peru for a month, and it has gone so quickly. My experience at my internship gets better and better each week, as I am learning more Spanish and medical terminology.

At the maternity clinic, I am assisting obstetricians here in giving injections, taking blood pressure, pulse, and weight and filling out paperwork that all of the women must have to receive the free healthcare the clinic offers. I have been at three births and was handed the baby directly afterwards to take care of (I was thankful for my nursing experience, as that was not quite as intimidating as it could have been.) It is amazing how completely different things run here as they would at a hospital like U.Va.´s. Medical technology does not really exist in many to most of these clinics. Last week they did receive their first incubator at the maternity clinic in Calca where I work.

In the communities, I continue to work with a few other volunteers on parasite, nutrition and anemia investigation and education. We take blood samples from the kids and send them to the lab to be analyzed along with the other samples for parasites. I have been able to do some of the sample analyzing and have sadly found that nearly every child has a parasite of some form. The encouraging thing is that in our teaching we are expressing how easy it can be to prevent a parasitic infection. We have researched materials and found alternatives to boiling water, as boiling water is expensive for many. Cloro can be put in the water and is fairly inexpensive. Also, putting water in clear bags out in the heat of the sun for a couple of hours can kill off some of the bacteria and parasites.

I have been assigned, also, to a new project. Four of us will go into schools to talk to 15 to 18 year olds about being an adolescent and all that that entails. Communication. Self-esteem, values and goals. STIs and sexual education. The reality here is that most girls have babies at a very young age because education about parenthood may be limited. We are outlining many interesting activities to run in the school, and I am looking forward to beginning this project.

When I am not working on my projects or am not at my internship, I am still taking Spanish courses and am learning a lot from my home stay family. A couple of strikes about trade and agriculture have kept me from being able to go to work, but have been very eye opening to the opinions of the people I am living with in Urubamba.

I have also been able to fit in a trip or two to Maccu Picchu and Lake Titicaca and to see many amazing ruins. There is so much history here that the people very much still identify with.

I am looking forward to my new project and the next month.