MMI in 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 project team was held the next year. The work expanded quickly and now over 250 MMI 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 people in Peru. www.medicalmissionsperu.org
MMI Project Teams
One and two-week project teams are facilitated throughout Peru in Lima, Ayacucho, Puno, Cusco, Madre de Dios, Ica, Arequipa, and other locations. MMI seeks to serve those with the greatest need.
With the help of medical and non-medical volunteers from the United States, Canada, and Peru, MMI Peru executes medical project teams to provide services in general medicine, dental, physical therapy, surgery, and ophthalmology.
When general surgery is offered, the project provides 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 (the amount depends on the case), instead of the normal in-country price of $400.00 or more. The usual price and travel difficulties makes the service impossible to access for many people in the area we serve.
Many projects also provide a training component for locals working in the medical field. Our doctors and nurses teach 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.
MMI Peru ensures these projects are sustainable by partnering with Municipalities, Ministry of Health, and local churches. Collaborative partners help to ensure the work of project teams has a long-term vision. Through each patient we see in the Primary & Preventive Care Program, we experience and share the love of Christ as we provide care and teach the cause of disease and prevention.
Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city with a population of 826,859 people. Although sitting in a valley, the elevation is still 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 live with a 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.
* Project Description: Our goal is to provide needed Physical Therapy services and equipment in the communities of Arequipa city, Pedregal, Lahoya, and Camana, all of which are districts in the province of Arequipa. We do this over two-week periods with North American and local Peruvian volunteers and in collaboration with the local municipalities and other associates. Previous projects have been done in all of these areas, which will allow the team to follow up on previous projects as well as evaluate new patients.
2328 m (7638 ft.)
Warm and dry.
Days are warm, while nights and early mornings are cold.
Dressing in layers is recommended.
Ayacucho is the capital city of Huamanga Province, Ayacucho Region. It is a relaxed, small town of colonial style with approximately 32,000 citizens, complete 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 the religious celebrations that take place.
The inhabitants of Ayacucho are involved in agriculture and light manufacturing of textiles, pottery, leather goods, and filigree wear. Ayacucho is famous for its 33 churches, each representing one year of Jesus' life. It 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 present a little church on the roof of the house.
* Project Description: Some teams provide medical care, dental care, and physical therapy to patients in the city and some rural communities outside of Ayacucho. The eye projects provide vision care in Optometry and Opthalmology to patients. These projects develop in partnership with the Municipality of Huamanga and Association VIDAS led by Raquel Yupanqui,a nurse and a pastor that has been developing social programs and providing medical care to those living in Ayacucho city and sourranding rural areas. Other projects focus on medicine and physical therapy.
2746 m (9007 ft.)
Warm and dry.
Days are warm, while nights and early morning are cold.
Dressing in layers is recommended.
The Colca Valley is found in the Andean mountains and is one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. In fact, outside of the Himalayas, it is impossible to find more peaks over 20,000 feet in such a concentrated location. “The Valley of the Fire” and “The Kingdom of the Condor” are a couple of the many titles given to the Colca Valley, whose river has carved out a dizzying canyon in a geographic fault that plunges down to 3,400 m in depth (twice as deep as the Grand Canyon) and runs for more than 200 km in total. The valley has been inhabited since pre-Inca times.
One of the major attractions of the area (which led the famous Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa to call it the "valley of wonders”) is the truly amazing terracing that crisscrosses the landscape. The Colca Valley terracing is considered among the most extensive in southern Peru. These works, which allow cultivation and meticulously controlled irrigation of the steep slopes of the canyon, were built by indigenous groups between the 9th and 14th centuries AD. Today, the inhabitants of the Colca Valley continue to use some of the same terraces of their ancestors for the cultivation of corn, potatoes, broad beans, alfalfa, quinoa, barley, and wheat. The traditional clothing is still worn by the majority of women in the Colca Valley.
* Project Description: The teams serve in several different districts of Colca Valley working in partnership with local communities. The teams set up mobile clinics with a triage area, consultation rooms, dental area, eye examination area, physical therapy area, pharmacy, and health education area. The conditions of the facilities where we set up clinic are very simple and basic. Many of the patients we see do not receive regular medical and dental care, so all kinds of health problems will be encountered. Common complaints include gastritis, arthritis pain, lower back pain, skin problems, respiratory problems, diarrhea, and dehydration. Spanish is a second language for some of the older patients. Interpreters will be available on this project, however it is helpful to know a few Spanish phrases. A great website to brush up on medical Spanish is www.practicingspanish.com
Warm and dry. A similar climate to Arequipa is experienced.
Days are warm, while nights and early morning are cold.
Dressing in layers is recommended.
Cusco, the capital city of the Cusco Province in south-eastern Peru, has a population of 435,114 people. 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.
* Project Description: We provide medical, dental, optometry, and physical therapy services. The facilities for clinics will be very basic, usually churches or community center buildings. These sites are mostly located outside of Cusco city. Through this medical mission, we will be serving native Quechua speaking people who are mostly farmers. This mission will be done in partnership with local evangelical churches and missionary friends serving in Cusco.
3400 m (11,200 ft.)
Dry and temperate.
Dry season: April - October. Sunny and cold.
Wet season: November - March. Wet and cold.
The city of Ica is the capital of the Ica Region in southern Peru. 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.
* Project Description: The team provides medical, dental, and optometry services to patients in the City of Ica. The team will be serving at a center called “Asociacion Sindrome de Down Provincia de Ica (ASDPI).” C.D. Neleida Aguilar is the president of this association which works with children who have Down Syndrome. For a couple of days, we will also be working with a local church.
406 m (1,332 ft)
Dry and hot/warm desert.
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.
* Project Description: Our goal is to provide needed Physical Therapy services and equipment in the communities of Pamplona Alta, Carabayllo, and Ancon over two-week periods using North American and local Peruvian volunteers in collaboration with the Anglican Church and Peru Children’s Charity. New parterships are also being explored.
0-1,550 m (0-5,090 ft)
Warm and humid, with little rainfall.
Madre De Rios
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. 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, so human activity is confined to river banks. 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.
* Project Description: MMI serves in several different small towns around Iñapari and Puerto Maldonado, working in partnership with local churches to provide healthcare to patients living in poverty. Each day we will set up a mobile clinic with a triage area, consultation rooms, dental area, eye examination area, physical therapy area, pharmacy, and health education area. The conditions of the facilities where we set up clinic will be very simple and basic. Many of the patients we see do not receive regular medical and dental care, so all kinds of health problems will be encountered. Common complaints include gastritis, arthritis pain, lower back pain, skin problems, respiratory problems, diarrhea and dehydration.
183 m (600 ft.)
Warm and humid tropical rainforest.
Puno is a city in southeastern Peru and is the capital city of the Puno Province, and has a population of 149,064 people. 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, mostly llamas and alpacas. Musical instruments such as the siku and charango, as well as textiles and ceramics are also many people's livelihoods. 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.
* Project Description: The teams provide medical, dental, and physical therapy care to patients living in poverty in Puno city and sourranding areas such as Juliaca and Lampa. The projects are done in partnership with Iglesia Evangelica Maranata of Puno, The Anglican Church of Juliaca, and the Red Cross of Lampa.
3830 m (12,556 ft.)
Cool and dry.
Bring sunscreen as sun is very strong at high elevation.
Travelling on a Project
Entry & Exit 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.
• Americans: Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. For more information see the US State Department website:
• Canadians: Please check the following website for the most current entry/exit requirements:
• International: Please contact MMI office or Raptim Humanitarian Travel for visa requirement if needed.
Please email ALL CREDENTIALS upon application.
• For everyone, we need:
- Colour Scan / Photocopy of Passport (photo page)
- Colour photo for your name badge (any good photo, we can adjust size)
- Travel Itinerary
- Supply Lists
• Medical Professionals, we also need your:
- Current License (through time of project)
- Diploma (Techs, Nursing, Dental, MD and Board Certifications)
- Curriculum Vitae or Resume (this also will help the Project Director know your skills & experience to assign you a task on the project, especially for 1st time participants)
• Health Care Students: Letter of Good Standing from your school (including year of study and graduation date).
• All MINORS travelling with only one parent, or without their parents, will need a letter from BOTH parents stating that it is OK for the child to travel with one parent or an appointed guardian. The letter should be signed and notarized. MMI needs a copy of this letter, and the parent or guardian should carry the orignial letter while travelling.
Once you have been accepted on the project, you can contact our designated travel agency to arrange your travel and coordinate your arrival with the team.
Raptim Humanitarian Travel: www.raptim.org
• US Applicants: Travel costs are arranged directly with the travel agent and are in addition to the Participant Project Donation.
Contact our “Serve Team 2”: ServeTeam2.firstname.lastname@example.org
Direct Toll Free: 1-844-882-3233 and ask for the agents by name or extension.
Lead Agents – Claudia (ext. 13302), or Michael (ext. 15004).
• Canadian Applicants: Donations to MMI for travel are in addition to the Participant Project Donation.
Contact our “We Partner” team: email@example.com
905-465-4300 or Toll Free: 1-844-442-6978 & ask for the agents by name.
Lead Agents - Anca (ext. 32327), or Connie (ext. 31771).
• International Applicants: Travel arrangement can be procured locally or following the Canadian instructions above.
• Airport: Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM), Lima. Many project locations require a domestic charter flight.
We strongly recommend that you consult a travel clinic, as they are aware of outbreaks and can suggest preventative immunizations. All routine immunizations should be up-to-date. Please check the following website for the most current information.
• Americans: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/peru
• Canadians: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/countries-pays/country-pays-eng.php?id=357
Accommodations and Meals
MMI will arrange local accommodations for the team.
• Laundry Service: usually available for additional fee
• AC/Heating: no
• Phone Service: check with your cell phone provider, roaming is very expensive
• Wifi/Internet: dependent on locations
• Voltage: 220V (transformers and adaptors required)
• Meals: MMI will provide meals for the team. Dietary restrictions can be indicated on your application and we will do our best to accommodate your needs. Be sure to bring your own re-usable water bottle with a wide mouth for refilling. Purified water is supplied. If you would like to bring snacks to have throughout the day, please bring items such as peanut butter, granola bars, trail mix or pretzels and crackers in sealable containers (like Ziploc bags).
• Language: Spanish Quecha and Aymara
- Catholic: 81.3%
- Protestant: 12.5%
- Other: 6.2%
• Government: Democratic Republic
Currency is the Peruvian nuevo sol. US Dollars are widely accepted, but local currency is best for small purchases.
Bring US 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.
MMI Peru Health Center
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 fills this by hosting specialized services.
In 2010, physical therapy and optical programs were initiated. Both programs are currently housed in temporary premises in Arequipa, along with services in dentistry and OB-GYN.
We keep growing and we currently have added services in dentistry and OB-GYN.
MMI Peru is planning for a new health centre to consolidate the office, optometry, physical therapy, dental and OB- GYN programs in one building.
Milagros Scholarship & Local Training
Thanks to the Milagros Scholarship Fund, a program that helps fund the university studies of disadvantaged youth who are committed to working in Christian ministries, MMI Peru has trained three staffs since 2007. New young leaders are being developed.
Yeny Pocori is a Peruvian ophthalmic technician who 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 Center with the project teams.
Jodee Fortner, a physiotherapist from Pennsylvania, led annual courses in physical therapy for Peruvian physiotherapists. Local university students participate in a 6-month internship with MMI Peru during their final year of studies.
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.
Ancient Peru was the seat of several prominent Andean civilizations, most notably that of the Incas whose empire was captured by Spanish conquistadors in 1533. Peru declared its independence in 1821, and remaining Spanish forces were defeated in 1824. After a dozen years of military rule, Peru returned to democratic leadership in 1980, but experienced economic problems and the growth of a violent insurgency. President Alberto FUJIMORI's election in 1990 ushered in a decade that saw a dramatic turnaround in the economy and significant progress in curtailing guerrilla activity. Nevertheless, the president's increasing reliance on authoritarian measures and an economic slump in the late 1990s generated mounting dissatisfaction with his regime, which led to his resignation in 2000. A caretaker government oversaw a new election in the spring of 2001, which installed Alejandro TOLEDO Manrique as the new head of government - Peru's first democratically elected president of indigenous ethnicity.
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