Sr. Evelyn’s Bolivia Medical Mission Trip


I’ve been asked to briefly share with you about the Medical mission of Sucre, Bolivia that I was blessed to be invited to be a part of. And thanks to a generous person of the medical team it became a reality.

The Diocese of Joliet in Illinois does a mission outreach to several countries each year. Besides Sucre, they go to the Philippines, Kenya, and the Navajo. I became involved when they were looking for a recovery room nurse to assist them in Bolivia.

We were gone for 2 weeks and there were a total of 21 of us on this mission which is composed of several parts. I was a part of the surgical team. Sixteen years ago, after several years of fund raising, the Diocese of Joliet built a hospital in Sucre primarily to help serve the poor. This is where we operated out of. We had one surgeon with us, 3 nurse anesthetists, a scrub tech, and a circulating nurse. Two other surgeons from Bolivia occasionally helped us also. We did a total of 30 surgeries on people who were indigent –a lot of hernias & gallbladders. We also removed a neck mass and a large fatty tumor. And on a young child we removed several rotten teeth.

Another part was the construction team. They helped construct a banos (bathroom) in 2 houses. The bano is approximately 2 meters by 2 meters. One was in a challenging location. To get there you had to climb up a short, but steep slope. All the materials had to be carried a short distance to the home since it is inaccessible to delivery trucks. Next a retaining wall had to be built to support one side of the bano. Two other footings had to be installed. Other tasks to accomplish were the digging of trenches for the water to the bano and the sewer. The bano has a stool, sink, and shower. The home will, for the first time, have running water.

Then there was the outreach clinic which served the distant Barrios. We had 2 physicians and a few nurses with us and then one or two doctors from the hospital along with their nurses joined our team each day. That group some days would travel up to 2 to 3 hrs each way. As soon as the team arrived people came out and got in line. Over the course of 2 weeks they saw well over 1000 clients.

Another piece was the Water with Blessings program. Because of their contaminated water it is frequently the cause of some of their diseases. This project was to provide and teach some of the women how to use a water filter to purify their water. Enough money was raised prior to going to Bolivia to purchase 90 filters. Once we arrived 90, 5-gallon buckets were purchased and then a hole had to be drilled in each one to insert the filter. Then there were group sessions held to teach the women how to use and care for their filter.

As you can see the time was well spent using everyone’s talents, time and energy to accomplish many tasks. I think we all came home richer for the experience and having made many new friends.

Sr. Evelyn Zimbauer, SDS

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