(This is the report of the two dentists Isabell Bartz and Sarah Kaemper, who did their clinical practice in the project)
Up and away after graduation? That’s been our dream all through college. In the eighth semester, we took the project “Auslandsfamulatur” into our own hands: our first contact point – the ZAD. On the website we informed ourselves about the different offers all over the world, but one in particular caught our eye: the Centro Yanachaga in the Peruvian mountain jungle in Huancabamba.
With joyful thoughts on the clinical traineeship we survived some dark moments during the exam period. Freshly approved, we started the preparations full of verve. The flight with Air France was quickly booked and in addition to the four weeks of the clinical traineeship we planned three more weeks of travel. Most of the preparation time was spent collecting donations in kind. For this we wrote to numerous companies, from which we received a large number of donations.
On “Rosenmontag”, the 24.02.2020 the time had come! We left our beloved Mainz, which was in the middle of the celebrations of the “Fifth Season”, and set out on our great adventure.
After 16 hours of travel, each packed with a backpack, a rucksack and a donation case, we were very happy to arrive in Lima. We didn’t have much time there, because after a short night we continued our journey to Oxapampa. When we arrived here we were warmly welcomed by Edgardo and when we woke up the next day, well recovered, we could explore the camp in peace for the first time.
We set up our practice and off we went! In our first two weeks of clinical practice we mainly took care of the treatment of the surrounding village population and the staff, as the boys were still on their summer holidays. The first two days were rather sluggish, but after a notice was hung up in the village, the queue in front of our practice grew, so that sometimes we had to send some patients home despite an eleven-hour treatment day. Officially, we opened the practice from 8am to 6pm with a lunch break from around 12pm to 1pm, although the breaks were often shorter and the days longer. Per treatment patients who did not belong to the Centro or their relatives paid a small lump sum of once 5 Peruvian Sol (~1,33€). So we were able to support the project with our work a little financially. The range of treatments that the dental unit made possible for us ranged from cleaning and prophylaxis, fillings, simple extractions, removal of denture pressure points, reintegration of dentures to simple root canal treatments.
Regarding oral hygiene, we were positively surprised, because the majority of the boys as well as the girls from the associated girls’ project in Quillazú had very good oral hygiene. However, we also got to see some desolate residual and unfortunately also milk teeth. Fortunately, we were able to save more teeth through fillings than by extracting them.
We spent our free time on the weekend exploring the surroundings of the Yanachaga National Park, which offers many great hiking routes through the Andes. We discovered the nearby Oxapampa both on our own and with the carpenter Pablo. He showed us his house and his favourite place, from which you have a wonderful total view of Oxapampa. We also used the trips there for a culinary change and a cool weekend beer. Another excursion destination is Pozuzo, which is approximately two hours away. In this sleepy little town one can still clearly recognize the German-Austrian atmosphere from the colonial times. After a trip to the “Agua Saladas” you can have a good “Schnitzel” with fries and enjoy a nightcap at the Dörcher brewery.
When the clinical traineeship was almost over and the bus ticket to Lima was already booked, we were surprised by the forced quarantine by SARS-CoV-2. Due to the strict quarantine measures we could not leave the Centro from 16.03. on. Only shopping in Huancabamba was still allowed. Also the practice had to be closed a little earlier, but at least we could still finish treating the remaining staff and students. Fortunately we were allowed to spend this time in the Centro, where we were still well taken care of. Only after three and a half weeks of quarantine we were able to take a taxi to Lima with the help of special permits. There we were luckily able to organize a flight to Paris ourselves.
Unfortunately, our planned trip through Peru was not feasible, but we are glad that we could take as much as we could from this beautiful country and finally came home safely. Nevertheless, it was an unforgettable experience for us!