- How much does it cost?
- How long are the trips?
- What will the weather be like?
- Where will we stay?
- What about water?
- What will we eat?
- What are the bathrooms like?
- What is a typical day like?
- What kind of work do we do?
- I'm not a dentist. What will I do?
- I am a dentist. What should I expect?
- How do you integrate ministry with your work?
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We work in rural communities south of Cusco, Peru. These communities are located at high elevations (10-14,000 feet) in the Andes Mountains. It takes anywhere from 5-8 hours by car on rough roads to get to these Quechua villages.
The airfare to Cusco, Peru costs about $1200 - $1400 from the US. You should also expect $200 in country expenses to cover food, transportation, and lodging. A rough estimate of cost for the entire trip would be $1400-$1600 depending on airfare costs. This cost is tax-deductible.
The trips are 1-2 weeks. We work in the communities for 4 week days and spend the weekend in Cusco.
The seasons in Peru are the opposite of those in the U.S. Trips occurring during the U.S. springtime (April/May) coincide with the end of the Peruvian rainy season and the beginning of the winter season. Daytime temperatures are usually in the upper 60s (F) with nights being much cooler. Rain is always possible. In the communities at high elevation, temperatures can drop to 30s (F) at night. Layers for clothing are best for staying warm at night and cool during the day. Trips occurring during the U.S. autumn season (October/November) coincide with the beginning of the Peruvian rainy season. Temperatures are generally a little warmer.
In Cusco, we stay either with missionary hosts or in a hotel. While in the communities we stay either in churches or schools. Sleeping bags, thin mats, and blankets are provided as we usually end up sleeping on the floor (often times dirt). Most of these communities do not have electricity or easy access to water.
The communities have wells to get water. We will provide a water purification system for drinking and cooking. Bathing in the outlying communities is generally limited to the washing of hands and faces due to water limitations.
When staying in Cusco with missionary hosts, food is provided. In the communities, the locals typically provide 1-2 meals a day, which usually includes some sort of a soup with meat, potatoes, and cheese. We will bring enough of our own food to supplement the meals provided by the local communities. We recommend you bring granola bars for snacks.
Usually the communities dig us an outhouse. If not, we will create one. Typically it is a hole in the ground with a tarp around it.
We usually begin working around 8am and work as late as we can. There is more need for dental care than we can ever provide so it is difficult to end our work day. We take time for lunch and highly value spending time enjoying and playing with the kids as our goal is to share the love of Christ. We also spend time giving oral hygiene instruction.
Currently we are providing extractions, oral hygiene instruction, and some cleanings.
You will be able to assist the dental work by cleaning instruments, holding flashlights, playing and educating kids, and helping with day to day activities. We cannot provide dental care without many other willing volunteers! We do recommend you bring some scrubs to wear while working.
Dentistry is very different in these communities. There are no radiographs, autoclaves, or dental chairs. Everything we use is very portable. We work out of lawn chairs using flashlights and/or headlamps. We use cold sterile solutions for the sterilization of the instruments. Relieving pain is our first priority. We usually try and extract only teeth that are causing people pain. Often, there are many more teeth needing extractions. All the instruments and supplies are provided by IDM. We recommend you bring scrubs to wear.
We work directly with ATEK, a local organization based out of Cusco whose sole purpose is to spread the gospel to outlying Quechua communities. They do this through counseling, gospel presentation, and Bible distribution (more information can be found about ATEK at our website www.idmserve.org). We travel to the communities with a group from ATEK who minister to and strengthen the local church while we provide dental care to the communities.
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