Written by Sofi Porter Castro
After many hours of travel, our multi-specialty mission team finally made it to Bolivia on Saturday evening! Immediately upon arrival we were greeted by the Puente de Solidaridad staff, who assisted us in transporting our team along with many suitcases of medical supplies to our lodging for the week - a beautiful 17th century Franciscan convent situated in the rural town of Tarata, Bolivia. The breathtaking location of the convent invigorated our missioners, making everyone anxious to get to work!
Before heading out to the hospital, Father Bob Oldershaw led a special mass in honor of our donors and supporters in the United States, without whom this mission would not be possible. Carrying these supporters in our hearts, the team headed to Hospital Dr. Manuel Ascencio Villarroel in Punata, the location of our mission. Punata is a small city encircled by the Andes mountains, but thanks to the publicity efforts of the Puente de Solidaridad staff, patients from all over the region are travelling to our location to take advantage of our missioners' expertise. The municipal government has also greatly supported our trip, and declared that during our mission they will cover half the cost that patients are normally required to pay at a public hospital. Since less than 20% of the state budget is allocated for health care (leaving over 77% of the population uninsured and under resourced) this type of support is an incredible opportunity.
Now that we have completed our first full day in the Punata hospital, we’re reminded how much of an opportunity this trip is for our own missioners as well, who have already been enriched by their preliminary interactions with Bolivian patients and physicians. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where we will share more about these interactions, and dive into the stories of the patients we meet this week. Hasta pronto!
Sofi is the Operations Manager at Solidarity Bridge. This multi-specialty trip is her first mission with us. She is serving as a trip assistant and interpreter.