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Medical mission in Peru

Dr. Mark Coker of Pike County recently took his medical talents all the way to the Andes Mountains of Peru. With his son Wesley, 10, and a multi-denominational group, he joined TeamExpansion to minister to the remote Quechua people. ’The Quechua, who are descendants of the ancient Incas, remain a primitive people whose needs are great,’ said Dr. Coker. ‘Lack of clean water and non-existent sanitation are the beginnings of the health issues for this group. E coli and parasites, easily treated here, go unchecked in this inaccessible area. The diet of potatoes and little protein cause malnourishment resulting in small stature and bone deformities. The dry, high Andes air combined with the harsh equatorial sun results in leather-like skin for even the youngest. Cataracts and blindness due to the sun’s UV rays could be averted with proper eye care and sunglasses.’ Dr. Coker treated more than 100 patients each day, some of whom had walked for four hours to get medical care. ’I’d like to see people here and in Peru step up and help the Quechua, not with handouts but with education, business advice and connections and church partnering. After providing clean water sources, the people need to learn basic hygiene. Training locals in several villages to administer donated medicine and vaccinations would raise the health standards drastically,’ Dr. Coker said. ‘People with knowledge and expertise in agronomy and animal husbandry could advise the Quechua to expand their diet to include a wider variety of plants and animals that could be produced as a food source year round. Extensive breeding programs of a high protein meat source could help the economy and the health of the people. Cloth woven in traditional intricate patterns of the Quechua could find a market here and abroad. These are a few of the possibilities we brainstormed to raise the general health and welfare of the Quechua. It takes people with a vision and a passion to make things happen.’ According to TeamExpansion, the most important need of the Quechua people is spiritual. Because of the remoteness of the villages there is inadequate Christian representation. ’As I medically treated people, the other volunteers prayed with the patients standing in line and more than 200 people were introduced to the gospel of Christ and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior,’ said Dr. Coker. ‘Every night during the week we were there, 70 native pastors met, creating ties between large native churches and the remote villages where we were ministering. It was exciting to see Catholics and Protestants work together to share Christ’s love to a needy people.’ Bibles in the Quechua language are available but are in limited supply in the area. To donate or volunteer to help go to TeamExpansion.org.

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