Information About: Peru
The work in Peru started in 1999 when MMI Director of Field Operations, Brian Piecuch, moved to Arequipa in the south of the country with his family. The first medical mission was held the next year. The work expanded quickly and now over 250 volunteers travel to Peru annually. Tania Catacora has been the MMI Peru National Director since 2010, and has been serving with this ministry since 2001. She continues to develop new projects and disciple local and international leadership.
MMI Peru was incorporated in Peru as a not-for-profit civil association in January 2010. This association provides a legal framework to all their activities. Our standing has allowed us to formally register with several government entities, allowing us to receive containers with donated equipment and material, and to provide staff with their social benefits according to Peruvian norms.
The association MMI Peru has developed a dedicated team of local staff that serves the Lord and the poor people in Peru. www.medicalmissionsperu.org
Short Term Missions with Long Term Impact
After 15 year of presence in Peru, we have develop one and two week short term mission trips to various areas around Peru like Lima, Ayacucho, Puno, Cusco, Madre de Dios, Ica and Arequipa. The need is great and we are trying to serve the neediest.
With the help of medical and non medical volunteers from the United States, Canada and Peru we can execute medical mission trips and our volunteers have had the opportunity to serve in the areas of general medicine, dental, physical therapy, surgery and ophthalmology.
Two areas of focus for our projects are sustainability and Christian witness. We provide sustainable mission projects by partnering with Municipalities, Ministry of Health and local churches. Our collaborative partners help to ensure that the work you start on our mission projects has a long term vision. Through our Integrated Health Program we share the love of Christ with each patient who comes through our clinic as we teach the cause of disease and their prevention.
As a result of our years of service in the country we have been able to develop permanent services. The Peruvian government provides basic health care in rural as well as in urban areas throughout the country. However, it does not provide enough specialized services.
MMI - Peru attempts to fill the gap in this need by hosting specialized services.
In 2010 physical therapy and optical programs were initiated. They have experienced a continuous growth in patients served. Both programs are currently housed in temporary premises in Arequipa.
We keep growing and we currently have added services in dentistry and OB-GYN.
The ministry in Peru would like to further develop their permanent centre by consolidating their office, optometry, physical therapy, dental and OB- GYN programs in a new building.
Milagros Scholarship & Local Training
Thanks to the Milagros Scholarship Fund, a program that helps fund the university studies of disadvanged youth who are committed to working in Christian ministries, we have trained three staff since 2007. New young leaders are being developed.
Yeny Pocori is an ophthalmic technician from Peru who has been trained at Hospital Centro Cristiano de Servicios Medicos – Milagros Ecuador, and continued her studies at the Instituto de Optometria y Ciencias Eurohispano en Lima, graduating from optometry. She now works for the MMI - Peru Vision Care Program and on our short term missions
With the arrival of Jodee Fortner, a physiotherapist from Pennsylvania, annual courses in physical therapy have been offered to local physiotherapists for the past five years. The tuition paid by students covers the travel expenses of the instructors, although their time giving classes is voluntary. Also students from a local University in their final semester do a 6 month internship through our Physical Therapy program.
- Madre de Dios
We are glad that you have chosen to participate on a project in this culturally rich nation. Peru is the third largest country in South America with over 5000 years of history, one of the most diverse nations on the planet. It is made up of a variety of landscapes, from mountains and beaches to deserts and rain forests. Peru is known as a tourist destination, it is famous for its diverse gastronomy and historic cultural sites. There is a Peru for everyone and we invite you to find out.
Projects will be able to meet primary care needs for those in communities we serve. Local physicians visit this community once every month or less.
When general surgery is offered, the surgical component of the project will provide the patients with an opportunity to have access to a surgery in their own community. Patients will be asked to contribute up to $60.00 depending on the case, instead of the normal in-country price of $400.00 or more; the country price and difficulties with travel makes the service impossible to access for most of the people in the area.
Many projects also provide a training opportunity for the locals serving in the medical field. Our doctors and nurses will be lecturing on different topics related to the identified needs of the communities. In the past, these training opportunities have been well received by the medical personnel in the area.
Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city with a population of 826, 859 persons. Although sitting in a valley, the elevation is quite high. Three snow-capped volcanoes, Misti, Chanchani and Pichu Pichu, dominate the city’s panorama. Of the three, only Misti remains active. Inhabitants of this city are involved in industrial and commercial production, including camelid wool products. The historic center of Arequipa spans an area of 332 hectares and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Arequipa is called the "White City" because many of its buildings are made of white volcanic rock called sillar.
The city has a large number of public and private health centers, however urban slum conditions mean that many still suffer from lack of access to basic services. “Pueblos Jovenes” (permanent squatter communities) completely ring the city. In these communities health care is not universally available and is often substandard. Many Peruvians living in “pueblos jovenes” are forced to resort to traditional remedies rather than seeking medical treatment.
2328 m (7638 ft.)
Warm and dry
Days are warm, while nights and early morning are cold.
Dressing in layers is recommended.
Average High: 19°C (67°F)
Average Low: 8°C (46°F)
Ayacucho is the capital city of Huamanga Province, Ayacucho Region. It is a small town of colonial style with approximately 32,000 citizens, calm and quiet, with old streets full of charm. Ayacucho is 558 km from Lima (the capital city of Peru). Ayacucho was the capital of the last pre-Inca Empire and is located in the middle of the driest area of Peru. It was founded in 1539 by Francisco Pizarro. Now it is famous because of her religious celebrations.
The inhabitants of Ayacucho are involved in agriculture and light manufacturing: textiles, pottery, leather goods, and filigree wear. Ayacucho is famous for its 33 churches, which represent one for each year of Jesus' life, and was a key site for a major battle for Peruvian independence from the Spanish. There is a tradition in the city that all houses must have a little church on the roof of the house.
2746 m (9007 ft.)
Warm and dry
Days are warm, while nights and early morning are cold.
Dressing in layers is recommended.
Average High: 24°C (75°F)
Average Low: 11°C (51°F)
Cusco the capital city of the Cusco Province in south-eastern Peru and has a population of 435,114 persons. A large proportion of the population is indigenous. Cusco is known as the heart of the Inca Empire and is the archaeological capital of the Americas. The famous Inca Citadel Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas are located nearby and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. Tourism represents a very important source of revenue to the area. However, most inhabitants of this area are involved in agriculture and brewery. The economic benefits from tourism have failed to reach the majority of the population and so many of Cusco’s residents live in poverty.
3400 m (11,200 ft.)
Dry and temperate.
Dry season: April - October. Sunny and cold
Average temperature: 10°C (50°F)
Wet season: November - March. Wet and cold
Average temperature: 13°C (56°F)
The city of Ica is the capital of the Ica Region in southern Peru. While the area was long inhabited by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. As of 2005, it had an estimated population of over 219,856. The city suffered extensive damage and loss of life during the 2007 Peru earthquake.
The city is located on the Ica River about 300 km to the south of Lima, along the desert coast of southern Peru. Further south along the Pan-American Highway lies the city of Nazca. Ica can be reached from Lima by the Pan-American Highway. The distance is almost exactly 200 miles or 300 km. The trip takes about 4.5 hours by bus and 4 hours on motorcycle.
Ica's location in the desert provides unique opportunities for tourism, such as the nearby Huacachina oasis, located in the midst of sand dunes. Some young visitors try sandboarding; others travel the dunes in sand buggies.
406 m (1,332 ft)
Dry and hot/warm desert
Average High: 30°C
Average Low: 8°C
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area. With a population of almost 10 million, Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Peru, and the third largest city in the Americas (as defined by "city proper"). Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de los Reyes. It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today, around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area.
Lima is also home to extreme poverty, especially in the densely populated settlements on its outskirts. These areas, known as “pueblos jovenes,” have grown rapidly in recent years, as people migrated from the rural sierra of Peru to Lima in search of economic opportunity and an escape from the instability and violence of the 1980s. People also continue to migrate to Lima from rural areas of Peru in search of better access to basic services -- such as health care, education, and work opportunities -- that are often limited or completely absent in their home communities. While some of the older settlements have in time become incorporated into the rest of Lima, the rapid and continued population growth in these areas has left many communities plagued by low wages, high unemployment, and a lack of attention from the state.
0-1,550 m (0-5,090 ft)
Warm and humid, with little rainfall.
Average High: 29°C (84°F)
Average Low: 14°C (57°C)
About Madre de Dios
Madre de Dios is located in southeastern Peru, bordering Brazil, Bolivia and the Peruvian regions of Puno, Cusco and Ucayali in the Amazon Basin. Its capital is the city of Puerto Maldonado. It has a very small population with an extremely low density. A large proportion of the population is Indigenous, and human activity is confined to river banks. The inhabitants of this area rely on natural products, and are involved in agriculture, specifically: cotton, coffee, sugarcane, cacao beans, Brazil nuts, palm oil, and gold mining. Due to the vast size of the area and its low population density, rivers provide the best way of getting from one town to another. Human activity is invariably confined to riverbanks. A new road that opened in early 2011 through the area will connect Brazil and Peru for trade. It is part of the newly built Interoceanic Road between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Flights between Cusco and Puerto Maldonado remain the most common and quicker method of transport between the two.
Deforestation is a significant problem in this area. Gold mining is the only other large industry of the region, confined mainly to alluvium adjacent to the Inambari and Madre de Dios rivers. In addition, techniques for gold mining have been described as resulting in both a major environmental and public health problem. Ecotourism is a major emerging industry in Madre de Dios. A number of lodges in Manu and Tambopata are becoming part of what is described as the Vilcabamba-Amboró Corridor. New legislation encourages private investors to create concessions for conservation or ecotourism. This is to extend the reaches of the public protected areas. This integration includes native communities, which are increasingly involved in ecotourism.
183 m (600 ft.)
Warm and humid tropical rainforest
Average temperature: 26°C (79°F)
Puno is a city in southeastern Peru and is the capital city of the Puno Province, Puno Region, and has a population of 149,064 persons. A large proportion of the population is Indigenous, and the city is a hub for their migration through the Andes. The inhabitants of the region are involved in agriculture, specifically livestock: llamas and alpacas. Musical instruments such as the siku and charango are also made, as well as textiles and ceramics. Puno is located on the shore of Lake Titicaca, which is the highest navigable lake in the world.
Puno has been named the “Capital folklorica del Peru” (folklore capital of Peru) from its wealth of artistic and cultural expressions, particulary dance.
3830 m (12,556 ft.)
Cool and dry
Average temperature: 15°C (59°F)
Bring sunscreen as sun is very strong at high elevation.
Peru is a multi-ethnic country characterized by large disparities in health and development between high and low income individuals. Healthcare in Peru has made great strides within the past twenty years, however the richest 20% of the population use 4.5 times more health services than the poorest 20%. Many of the poorest 20% are rural populations, and a struggle exists for policy makers to ensure that services and resources are available to those outside urban centres. Peru spends half as much on healthcare compared to the rest of Latin America.
Peru has one of the highest maternal death rates in South America. Infant mortality is high, but relatively on par with the rest of Latin America. Major causes of death are infectious disease, specifically: waterborne bacterial disease resulting in diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid, dengue fever, malaria, and pneumonia. A lack of infrastructure contributes to these issues, as water systems and insufficient sanitation are common especially in the mountainous and Amazonian regions.
Education in Peru through primary and secondary school is theoretically free for children from ages seven to sixteen. However, only 43% of young rural women have finished secondary school, compared to 58% of young men. Many women do not finish school due to geographic barriers, as well as high pregnancy rates in adolescence. The majority of rural women work in farming, or take care of household chores. On average, they earn 46 percent less than male workers.
Peru is divided into three distinct areas: coastal desert, Andean mountains, and Amazonian jungle. Most of the population lives in the coastal desert, which also hosts 70% of the countries wealth. The varied terrain, cultures, and rich natural resources present both opportunities and challenges for Peru’s development. Peru was the centre of the Incan Empire, and today the remnants of their civilization serve as a principle source of tourism for the country. Colonization by the Spanish until 1821 has left a significant mark on the architecture and culture of the country. Approximately 81% of the population is Catholic, while 12% of the population is Protestant. Indigenous beliefs have often mixed with Spanish influence, and can result in a unique belief system. The Mestizos, which originally referred to the mixture of Spaniards and indigenous cultures, represent 44% of the Peruvian population, while the indigenous communities represents 31% of the population.
Peru is a presidential representative democratic republic, and is in a state of ongoing democratization. The government has three branches: the executive, congress, and the judiciary. Congress is increasing its oversight and investigative powers along with the executive branch. Since the 1980's, many grassroots organizations have emerged and had influence on increasing social justice and reducing poverty at a structural level.
Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador
10 00 S, 76 00 W
Bolivia 1,075 km
Brazil 2,995 km
Chile 171 km
Colombia 1,800 km
Ecuador 1,420 km
200 nautical miles
Western coastal plain (costa), high and rugged Andes in center (sierra), eastern lowland jungle of Amazon Basin (selva)
Varies from tropical in east to dry desert in west; temperate to frigid in Andes
In the Southern Hemisphere, the temperatures are “reversed”. The typical seasons are:
Summer: December 22 –March 21
Autumn/Fall: March 22 –June 21
Winter: June 22 – September 22
Spring: September 23 – December 21
Pacific Ocean 0 m
Nevado Huascaran 6,768 m
Country Entry Requirements
To enter and depart Peru, you are required to have a valid passport for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure. Travel visa is not required and all travellers are given an Andean immigration card upon arrival.
Canadians: Please check the following website for the most current entry/exit requirements: http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/peru
Americans: Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. For more information see the US State Department website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/peru.html
Please send a copy of the following to the MMI Canada office:
- Current license
- Current diploma
- CV for MD, DDS, DMD, RN/LN, RPN/LPN, NP, PA, and surgeons
- Surgeons - Surgical privileges list and board of speciality
Once you have been accepted on the project, we will provide our designated travel agent information so that you can arrange your travel in order to coordinate logistics of the team.
Canadian Applicants: Donations for travel are in addition to the Participant Project Donation.
US Applicants: Travel costs are arranged individually and are in addition to the Participant Project Donation.
Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM), Lima
Many project locations require a domestic charter flight.
Lodging and Accommodations
Teams will stay at a local guest house or basic hotel while on the projects in Peru.
Bed Linens/Sleeping Bag: bring your own
Bath Towels: bring your own
Mosquito Netting: bring your own
Laundry Service: available for additional fee
Hot Water: possibly
AC: not available
Phone Service: check with your cell phone provider
Wifi: not available at the hotel, but there are internet cafes
Voltage: 220V (transformers and adaptors required)
Meals: Meals are provided by MMI Peru staff. Be sure to bring your own re-usable water bottle with a wide mouth for refilling. Purified water is supplied.
Language: Spanish Quecha and Aymara
- Catholic: 81.3%
- Protestant: 12.5%
- Other: 6.2%
Government: Democratic Republic
Peruvians are very polite, so, it’s customary to be the same. You will notice that mean and women kiss each other on the cheek when saying hello, and the same goes for women to women. This is only a sign of friendliness. There’s no six inches of personal space in Peru: two people talk, walk, and sit closely general, so don’t be alarmed.
Peruvians, like many South American countries are also on “Latin Time” meaning, arriving an hour late for a social engagement is considered customary.
Currency is the Peruvian nuevo sol. US Dollars are widely accepted, but local currency is best for small purchases.
Bring US/Canadian dollars that are in excellent condition to exchange. Peruvians will not accept torn or worn bills for whatever reason. When exchanging money try to get Peruvian bills of smaller denominations such as 20 soles or less since larger bills of 50 or 100 soles are sometimes not accepted because of inability to make change. There are ATMs in most project sites.