Life Can be Hard – Poverty

Yesterday morning in the haze of sleepiness I got up and turned on the pump that we have installed to pump water from the city water system up to our tank. In that way, during the hour in which we get water we can fill the tank and have water available all day. Unfortunately yesterday, I forgot to check the valve that we use to close off our water system from the city water which is located between the pump and our house, and it was closed. That meant our pump was pushing water against a closed valve. As you can imagine, this did not work well, and it busted a pipe. So now water was spraying everywhere on our patio with no way to shut off the city water. Fortunately it only lasted an hour (one advantage of only receiving water an hour each day). I called a plumber who has worked with us before. This was 6 AM. He seemed hesitant, telling me he was sick and had trouble walking, but he agreed to come. I went to pick him up, and he was definitely limping. I had not seen him in a few months. I asked him what was up, and he told me the left side of his body had been paralyzed. It turned out he had been infected with neurocysticercosis which is a tapeworm that you can get from eating undercooked pork. It is the most common parasite of the central nervous system, and also the main cause of acquired epilepsy. Because our pork here is not treated with medicine against parasites you have to be sure it is cooked well. He had developed a tapeworm cyst in his brain which had caused paralysis. They treated him at Diospi Suyana Hospital and he was slowly recovering. He could now walk with crutches, but he still has complete paralysis of his left arm. That is tough news for a plumber. And I was thinking how hard poverty is. He lives week to week because he is not paid much for the work he does. Then he eats contaminated pork because there are no standardization of sanitation in the rural areas of Peru because of poverty. This leads to a paralysis which makes it so he cannot work. There is no disability insurance in Curahuasi, and the social safety net is basically non-existent because of poverty. That is hard, and I imagine it is stressful to live on the edge all the time. So life can be hard for us (the Caire family), but we always have an out. I have international health insurance for major medical problems. I have evacuation insurance in case of the need of urgent medical transport to the US or in case of disaster. I have a savings account and life insurance to take care of my family if something should happen to me. If we need to, we can go home, and I can work as a physician in the US. We have options and we are blessed. People here have very few options, and it is hard to be face to face with it on a daily basis. Please pray for the poverty in Curahuasi.

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