Letter from a Patient in Chacas English Translation
Hello dear doctors and friends,
I hope you are keeping well, same as your families.
My name is Victor Manuel Cornejo Vergara, I am 34 years old, and I am from Lima, from the coast of Peru. I would like to tell you a little about me.
I am a young man whose parents abandoned when I was a small child. I was brought up by a paternal aunt, but my uncle passed away when I was only 3 years of age, so I was left on my own with my aunt.
She struggled very hard to make a living for us, and when I was 7 years, she got very sick and died the following year, when I was only 8 years old. I was an orphan then again, and at that age, I started working. I stayed with my cousin, studying and working until I was 18 years and then I had to become totally independent.
When I was 27 years old, I started feeling unwell, I started having difficulty walking. So, I decided to go to a hospital in Lima, and the doctors then had to request several investigations to find out what was wrong with me.
Everything was very expensive and I didn’t have enough money to pay for the costs. I then had to quit working because I was getting worse. I then decided to go to the Andes, as I had an aunt there but I had never met her before. She was very poor, but still, she opened the doors of her home to me. Sometime after, she started telling about this group of Italian volunteers, who helped the poor people of the Andes.
I used to cry a lot, I was in deep suffering, because I didn’t know what would happen with my life. My aunt then decided to take me to the Italians who then send me to their hospital in Chacas. When I first arrived there, I didn’t know anyone.
I still had the hope to be able to walk again. Little by little, I started to get to know the Italian doctors working there, they were all very kind. I then met Stefania, who is a volunteer nurse, and then I met Dr Cristiano who is a volunteer doctor. Then, I got to meet one by one the doctors who would come to volunteer to the hospital for brief periods of time. Dr Cristiano started looking carefully at my illness to try to understand what had happened to me and why I couldn’t walk.
He decided to send me to Lima to get a scan on my spine (MRI). So, I went to Lima and got the MRI and when I asked the doctor in Lima if I was going to walk again, he said that I should go back and ask the question to Dr Cristiano , who was the one who had requested this scan. When I returned to the hospital in Chacas, Dr Cristiano started looking at the scan. Days passed by and I kept asking Dr Cristiano if I was going to walk , and he kept saying that we would have to have some time to talk about this without any rush.
After a month, Dr Cristiano spoke to me, and said that he wanted me to try to adapt to this new life I was going to live. He said: “I want you to be strong “…. And that is when I really got scared. He said “Victor, I know this is going to be very difficult for you but you are not going to be able to walk again. We still will continue helping you with physiotherapy “. I got a shock after this news, I went like a “ crazy man” .
They had to start giving me sleeping tablets , because I couldn’t relax or sleep at all. I didn’t want to eat anything. I didn’t have anyone to help me. Little by little, I started recovering from the initial shock. The only thing I did was to accept. The Italians were always cheering me up. I started using the wheelchair. The new volunteer doctors coming to the hospital where always trying to help me.
That’s how I got to meet Dr Jackie and her students whom she brought with her. Every year she comes, she finds me in the hospital, because as I don’t have a place to go, I live in the hospital. I have
been living in the hospital for 7 years now; I am now as another child for Father Hugo, who is the one who started the “Operacion Matto Grosso” (OMG). I will remain in the hospital, until they can build a house for me. Here in the hospital I made a friend, his name is Marino. He shares the room with me. He is in much worse condition than me. He is 52 years old; he is from Carhuaz- Huaraz.
He was in a car accident and he became tetraplegic. He can’t move his body; he can only move his head. He has been in the hospital for 5 years now. When I look at him, I realize that he is a very strong person. I try to look after him. He is like a father to me. He and I, thank the Italian volunteers for helping us. I also thank Dr Jackie, her students and her friends who help us and know how to do charity.
I would like to invite you all to Peru, and to come to Chacas, it is really nice here. I personally will receive you and if I ever get to have my own little house, I will give you accommodation there.
Thanks very much, I hope I am not disturbing you with my story.
I send you warm regards
Victor and Marino
For all of you from Peru……