Gregoria struggled to get the fire going to cook her family’s breakfast of roasted potatoes. She had been coughing day and night. She lit a bundle of small sticks and created a bed of coals to roast the little potatoes. The daily chore took her over an hour, and she was already exhausted before the sun had come up.
Her husband, Domingo, led the llamas and alpacas out of the stone corral to graze on the mountainside several miles away. In a few years their first-born child would be old enough to help take the animals out before running several miles down the mountain to attend school.
Domingo worried his wife had contracted the dreaded covid-19. Many people in their mountain region were sick with fever, cough, and exhaustion. The community leaders sent word of widespread respiratory illness to Bertha Ramirez, the representative of Heart Walk Foundation.
Bertha quickly recruited a medical team to take the long journey from Cuzco to the isolated Q‘ero mountain villages. The brave young professionals had to bring their own bedding and food to last a week as they examined and treated hundreds of sick people in the field.
The medics used covid rapid tests to assess hundreds of villagers. Gregoria and Domingo tested positive. Almost everyone tested positive. Fortunately, there were no life-threatening cases at the time. To date, we have not heard of any covid-related deaths in the villages we serve.
Providing medical services in the remote villages is an endeavor of love in action that always proves challenging. The medics had to be very careful to protect themselves from infection. The dentist could only give antibiotics because extractions of infected teeth would be too dangerous for him and others.
A heavy snow fell during the third night of the medical expedition. The visiting medics were unable to trek to the last two villages in the region and were compelled to return to Cusco, a full day away.
Weather and geography present constant barriers to providing basic human services in the remote Q’ero region. But — with your support — we will not be deterred. We continue our commitment to bring medical and educational services to Gregoria, Domingo, and all the Q’ero people in the Hapu and Quico regions.