As is our custom, it has been a good while since we last updated you on the current state of affairs in Curahuasi.
The corona virus is still very much at the center of attention in Peru. According to the official statistics Peru ranks number 7 on the list of countries with the most confirmed cases of the corona virus. There are now 407.492 confirmed cases and over 19.000 deaths are ascribed to the corona virus. From March 16th until the end of June, the whole country was in a strict lockdown. A lockdown in Peru is not a suggestion, it is enforced with police and the military in the streets. At the end of June, the strict lockdown only continued in certain regions of Peru but Apurímac was opened up again. Children under 14 and anyone over 65, however, are still not allowed to go out of their house. The only thing we are allowed to do with our children is to get out of the house for up to 1 hour a day, no further than 500 meters from our house. For the hospital it was also a difficult time because in the months of March, April and May, our patient numbers dropped dramatically as people could not travel. Although income from patients is definately not the main income of the hospital, it is a part and having it drop to almost 0 posed a serious difficulty to the hospital.
During March, April, May and June the mountains of Peru really have been spared. There were relatively very few cases in Apurímac. In fact, Apurímac is still the region with the least cases. Still, there have been cases. And due to the apparent complete lack of preparation on the part of the regional authorities the government hospitals in Abancay and Andahuaylas are now said to have collapsed or to collapse very soon and the same is happening in Cusco. There are simply no more IC beds available. Meanwhile, the number of cases in Apurímac recently did start rising quite rapidly. During the last couple of days we have received several patients with the corona virus at our hospital. A couple have left the hospital after treatment, several are currently being treated and 2 have died. If the patients keep coming at this rate, we will very soon be a Covid-19 hospital, mainly or exclusively treating patients with this virus.
As we have written before, the relation between Diospi Suyana and the regional government of Apurímac has not been at its best lately. Despite signing an official agreement, the regional government never fulfilled any of their promises to Diospi Suyana. But they were using the agreement with us as a defense whenever people were asking questions about the lack of preparations in Apurímac. Now that the agreement is no longer in effect and the numbers are rising rapidly, it becomes painfully clear that not much has been done. We are now entering a new lockdown in Apurímac for at least 1 month as it is said ”we need more time to prepare”. Well, what has been done in the months of March, April, May and June? Sadly not much. There are not enough beds, not enough ventilators, not enough oxygen and not enough personnel.
The lack of personnel is something that we are also concerned about. It is hard to keep trained personnel or to find new colleagues. Some are so afraid of the corona virus that they quit. Others quit because the government has launched a campaign to hire new nurses and other staff and they offer a salary 3 to 4 times what we can pay. Something we can offer that many government hospitals cannot is adequate and sufficient personal protection gear for all our staff that work with the infected patients. We hear many stories of personnel in government hospitals being forced to work without the necessary protective gear as it is simply not available. According to the official numbers, so far 51 doctors have died of the corona virus in Peru.
We as a family are doing fine thanks to God. The schools are still closed so we have to do the schooling with our girls. Thankfully the teachers of the Diospi Suyana school do a great job in preparing materials for the home schooling. For a couple of months Vikki did not work at the hospital due to the fact that there were so few patients due to the lockdown and also because I had so much to do at the hospital. Thankfully Vikki could go back to work in June due to increasing numbers of patients. We will have to see what the new lockdown brings us.
Vikki and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary in July. Leah recently turned 6 and although we could not have a real party with lots of children due to the government measures, she had a really great day and was delighted to get birthday messages from friends and family from all over the world. She felt really special which she should because she is a delightful girl. Olivia and Simeon are also doing fine. We are blessed to have three children that, in general, play quite well together. This is something that is really valuable in a lockdown situation.
In November our 3-year term at Diospi Suyana will end and we hope to then travel to Europe. We recently heard that commercial international flights will probably not be allowed into Peru until the beginning of 2021 so it will probably be a flight arranged by the Dutch embassy. We are currently trying to figure out what the future after November 2020 holds for us and what God wants us to do. Please pray for us to make a wise decision. Please also pray for Diospi Suyana as it appears that the epidemic has now finally reached Apurímac. Pray for strength, wisdom and energy for our medical staff to treat the patients the best they can and save many lives.