Can you imagine traveling through rugged countryside, over bumpy road and spending two nights on a rickety bus just to receive medical care? It’s something many of us in the western world will never understand, for when we need medical attention, we simply drive our car to the nearest hospital, which usually is no further than 20 minutes away. Here in northern Peru, the reality is different. Families do have to travel for days to access medical facilities and medical care for themselves and for their children. Despite the effort it takes to do this, families are more than willing to travel this distance to better the lives of their children.
The FACES team sees patients who are locals from Lambayeque, but they also see patients who have traveled from regions deep in the Amazonas in far northern Peru near the border of Ecuador. During the course of the day’s surgeries, we spoke with some of the families whose child will receive surgery from the FACES team to get their perspective on the FACES Foundation experience.
The Cajo Family
Juan Bautista Cajo Sanchez sits under a slice of shade as the Peruvian sun beats down around him. His skin is tan and weathered, for he spends his days outside farming sugarcane on his land. Juan shifts a soccer ball back and forth between his hands, a solemn look of concern on his face. Sitting across from him is his wife, Gandi Gisella Cajo Bernilla, who sports a tight magenta t-shirt and long, flowing black hair. The Cajo is from Salas, Peru, which is a two-hour journey from Lambayeque.
At this very moment, as Juan and Gandi sit together under a sunny blue sky, their only child, a 2-year-old boy named Alejandro Joel Cajo Cajo, is in the FACES operating room, receiving a surgery to correct his cleft palate deformity. This is Alejandro’s second surgery from the FACES team: he received the first in 2010 to correct his cleft lip deformity.
“Of course, I’m nervous because I wonder if my baby is going to bleed from his mouth after surgery,” said Gandi.
“We know that this surgery is going to improve his speech,” explained Juan, as he looked down at the soccer ball in his hands. “We are sure that this surgery will give him a better life.”