/ 8. October 2010 10:58
Each Peruvian volunteer spends a month living with a family. Mine consists of a mom, dad, two sisters, one brother, a niece, and a dog. A few months later I was able to add a grandma to my family. I met Rosita several months ago. Then, we were simply members of the same parish, but now she calls me her granddaughter and I call her my Peruvian grandma.
Part of our work at the parish health office is visiting patients in their homes. This includes patients with varying medical conditions, typically the impoverished elderly. Rosita is in her eighty’s with a sound mind, long grey hair, and not a single tooth. She lives on the few centimos she charges merchants in the market to use her bathroom (a hole in the ground) and by the good of her neighbors. I visit her every day in her home which is made of a stick roof, dirt floor, chickens and ducks roaming about. Rosita had 12 children, 6 survived, so I couldn’t understand how someone at her age, who can barely walk should be living alone. Her abusive husband passed away 3 years ago, and most of her children moved away. The ones who live close by visit from time to time and her grandchildren who live in the same town say they’re too busy to visit. On one visit I noticed a large wound on her leg from a fall which became infected and caused her foot to swell. With her other medical conditions I wanted to take her to the hospital however the Peruvian national insurance was on strike and patients were not being admitted. So I gathered supplies for wound care and took care of it myself. Every day I would wash and bandage her leg. On one particular day Rosita who is normally all jokes began to sob. She cried because none of her children or grandchildren who she spent most of her life raising and caring for will take care of her now in her old age. It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen her cry for this reason.
With the help from one of her neighbors Rosita was able to see a doctor from the states during a medical campaign. Once her prescription runs out I make sure to get her another months supply from the parish who donates medicine to patients who do not have the funds to purchase them. I enjoy watching Rosita take her pills. She holds them in her hand, closes her eyes, and raises the pills above her head, then sings a song to God to heal her. Her blood pressure is under control now and she no longer has dizzy spells or headaches.
My favorite place in Chulucanas is sitting next to Rosita in “my chair” on her porch where there’s a nice breeze and shade. She sings songs and we clap or play air guitar together. She has a witty sometimes improper comment about every shopper in the market. Passer bys think she’s an odd old woman but I’ve been blessed to get to know and care for Rosita. Her life has been full of challenges, she’s suffered much, and yet she is one of the most faithful, lively and humble persons I’ve met during my service in Peru.
Chulucanas, Peru 2010