Healing and Learning

front n.jpgCentro Médico Santa Clara – Sistema de Salud Verbo Encarnado                                                Picture from   https://www.facebook.com/672577399539036/posts/1552870988176335/

 The whole WGC group had an opportunity to visit and learn about the clinic that the Sisters founded about 50 years ago. Those focusing on health professions are spending time with the staff and learning both there at the clinic and in the home-based hospice program. Mari M 20190520_120606.jpgSister Maria Marquez Fuentes (on the right) explained that the clinic serves about 75 people a day and from 1400 to 1500 within a month.  The cost is kept low to help those in need.

Peru has a high rate of mental health needs and not enough professionals in that area.  The UIW Psychology majors, Aly Escobar, Meghan Mueller, and Clarissa Garza, had an opportunity to met a psychologist at the clinic and learn a little of the variety of psychological services there.


Janie, director 20190520_124044.jpgNurses Janie Benavides and Eleanor Garcia and the Director of Nursing at the Clinic.Stef IMG-20190521-WA0001.jpg

Steffyn Nowak, a UIW Psychology student, originally from Guatemala, who plans to go to med school wrote, “Doing their best with what they have—that’s what the amazing team of doctors, nurses and Sisters of the Charity of the Incarnate Word are doing at the Santa Clara clinic in Chimbote. I visited their establishment and the first thing I noticed was how outdated their equipment and tools are in every room.cot WhatsApp Image 2019-05-21 at 7.58.28 PM.jpeg

After spending a day at the clinic it amazed me how they are able to provide excellent care for their patients. Not only are they are working with outdated equipment but they are also responsible for  making some of their supplies. One example I got to see and be part of was creating their own gauzes. They don’t have the luxury of getting individual packages of gauze. They get rolls which they have to cut by hand and then sterilize.

Clinic gauze 20190520_124514.jpgThis experience made me aware of little things we take for granted from having updated medical equipment to not having to cut my own gauze because they come in individually packages. It saddens my heart to know that there’s better technology out there to treat patients, but in disadvantaged areas often people cannot afford new medical advances. It was a pleasure as a pre-medial student to experience how the medical staff from the Santa Clara clinic truly care about their patients and their community.Sink WhatsApp Image 2019-05-21 at 7.35.26 PM.jpeg

Savannah Sandoval, a Biology student at UIW who seeks to go to Optometry School said, “Centro Médico Santa Clara was established in 1965 with one mission, to help the less fortunate. After 50 years of missionary work in Peru, in December of 2015, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word established the Incarnate Word Health System and the Apostle Santiago Hospice! Furthermore, when the opportunity to volunteer at the clinic was given, my friends and I could not pass it up! Volunteering at the clinic allowed us to compare the different strategies and medical equipment used in Latin American countries such as Peru. The care was very efficient and the doctors appeared to genuinely care about their patients. A patient who was suffering from a common cold noted that, although she did have insurance, no other clinic went above and beyond like the nurses and doctors at Santa Clara. It is heartwarming to know that the medical workers in Chimbote Peru care for others as if they were all a big family. Unfortunately, after supporting hundreds of families the residential hospice was closed due to insufficient funds. The homebased hospice goes on. The nurses continue to go out to the community to help those who are terminally ill. By working together as one body we are hope filled to reopen the hospice one day.  Muchas gracias a Sister Maria por la oportunidad. Es un honor poder servir!”

Ashley 20190520_123319.jpgAshley Alvarez, a UIW Accounting Major got to meet the accountants at the clinic.

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Paul Chaiken, a pre-med student who just graduated was shadowing a doctor. Alejandra Saldivar is a Pre-Physical Therapy student who brings rich background with a grandmother who helps over 500 people in her home-based health care agency. Savannah Sandoval who shared in Lima on St. Martin de Porres the healer is certainly following in his footsteps.

Paul described:  The most impactful part of the trip, as of now, was my morning working in hospice. Because the hospice building was closed down due to a dispute with the local government over its structural integrity, a nurse from the Santa Clara Clinic must go off site and provide hospice services. These services generally involve taking care of the patients hygiene. Hospice patients tend to be very sensitive and fragile from their old age and past injuries, so a nurse is needed to gently move and dress the patient.

Every patient is unique in their health issues and in the resources that are allocated to their care. The first patient was schizophrenic and nonverbal; his only means of communication was screaming when he felt pain. Furthermore, he had a crippled leg from an accident and a self inflicted wound on his lip from compulsively biting it. This meant that greater care was needed to move him and that his lip needed to be regularly disinfected. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, caring for him was a slow and agonizing process for the care givers and the patient.

The second patient seen had more resources allocated to her care and lived with a family. She had suffered from a stroke which caused her right limbs to become immobile and set into awkward, curled positions. She could not eat or move and had to be fed through a feeding tube in the nose. She had to be bathed by sponge bath on her bed. In order to change the bedding, the sheets had to be passed beneath her. Despite not being able to talk, I could tell that she was in pain by the soft gurgling noises she made when she was moved. I am both amazed and afraid by how much a person can atrophy before death. Also, I am glad that I could witness something so raw and real.

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Yesenia Caloca looks at the photo of the first Sisters getting ready to go to Peru in 1963 right after there had been prayer for them in Chapel of the Incarnate Word.



Learning from WGC’s Peruvian partners who are trying to protect children from abuse

approaching 20190519_115015.jpgSunday, May 19, 2019

The Peru immersion trip travelers rode for about half an hour out to a rural area called Union del Sur early on Sunday morning to observe how the Pushaq Warmi women conduct their workshops. What struck all of the travelers was the car ride coming into the village of over 1,000 inhabitants. Mounds and mounds of trash lined the entrance of unpaved roads. Even more striking was the condition of the houses that people lived in. Houses made out of straw called esteras.

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WhatsApp Image 2019-05-21 at 11.02.25 PM.jpegOnce we arrived at the church in Union del Sur there were about 30 women and children present to listen to the group of Pushaq Warmi women talk about child sexual abuse awareness.

PW women know how to get people engaged and to appeal to people of all ages.

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The president of PW, Edith, commenced the workshop by providing facts on the sexual abuse issues occurring in the village’s society. An overwhelming 86% of sexual abuse victims are between the ages of 10-12 years old.

Edith continued the workshop by illustrating scenarios of behavior that could be considered sexualized. Warning the women to listen to their children when they do not feel comfortable kissing their relatives on the cheek. Customs that are built within the culture are important to maintain. On the other hand, forcing a child to kiss their uncle or aunt on the cheek even if they do not want to, enforces the idea that children have to perform behaviors even if they do not want to.

Reminding the women to stay mindful of who watches and spends time with their children is imperative. A potential predator starts by building trust by luring the children with treats such as candy and special attention. Then a secret pact is established between the child and their abuser. The child is then troubled and confused by this relationship because they grow to love their abuser due to the trust and bond that is held between them, but are also battling internally because at the core it feels wrong and unnatural.

The PW women creatively acted a version of the story of Little Red Riding Hood to warn children to be aware of danger. RR 20190519_102538.jpg


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The instructors of the workshop taught the audience to be aware of their children’s behavior by looking for signs that might indicate that they are experiencing sexual abuse. Some changes in children that are experiencing sexual abuse are 1)  a child becomes shy, 2) their grades begin to slip, 3) aggressive behavior, 4) depression and anxiety develops, and 5) thoughts of suicide.

As the workshop wrapped up, the women shared ways to help educate children on ways to make them less vulnerable to the dangers of sexual abuse. Mothers can take a doll and show a child what parts they need keep covered on their bodies that need to remain safe and untouched by people. The instructor highlighted the idea that it is important to give children trust and they will reciprocate that trust with their parents.

It’s incredibly necessary to respect children’s decisions when it comes to showing affection to relatives. Remember to be careful with who watches your children. Edith concluded the workshop with an activity where she passed out deflated balloon to blow up after visualizing the saddest memory that we can remember.  She invited all to feel those emotions over again and take those emotions and put them into the balloons as we were blowing them up. After the activity we released the balloons into the air and watched  them flying away.RR 20190519_102258.jpg

RR 20190519_102245 (1).jpgSexual abuse is a serious issue in Peru and the fact that the Pushaq Warmi women are having these workshops with women and their children to educate and empower them is inspiring. We need to continue these situations and remind people that they are not alone and that they do not have to suffer in silence.

By Alejandra Escobar, Event Coordinator, Office of Research & Graduate Studies, Organizational Development and Leadership Graduate Student at the University of the Incarnate Word

Martyrs 20190519_104627.jpgTravelers stand in front of banner remembering the Martyrs of Chimbote. Learn more of them .

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Warm New Friends

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May 19, 2019

This evening we had the pleasure of having dinner with the sister’s from el Verbo Encarnado congregation  in Chimbote. The dinner took place at a Chifa Ugos (Peruvian Chinese) in Chimbote. The food was delicious but the company was most delightful. We arrived an hour early before the restaurant opened, however, the owner of the restaurant was kind to let us in and wait inside. During our waiting time for the restaurant to open we took went ahead and used the space to introduce our UIW group to the sisters. Each sister and student/traveler introduced and shared a little about themselves.

Afterwards we sang together “Alabaré a mi Señor”, part of today’s gospel reading was read by Savannah Sandoval, we split into small groups to reflect on the scripture reading and shared what was our takeaway that was most heartfelt to us. Sr. Martha Ann ended our introductory session with a joyful hymn and we then departed to be seated for dinner. I sat next to Sr. Pilar and she shared many stories and experiences of life in Nuevo Chimbote in AH VILLA

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ATAHUALPA (sandy community where some of the disadvantaged take refuge). Sr. Pilar although a  professor teaching Masters courses for Leadership at the University of Lima also spends her time in AH VILLA ATAHUALPA in Nuevo Chimbote assisting Father Fernando (from Spain) with mass services and all that entails helping the families and children with the bare necessities.

True dedication was seen and heard during our visit with these wonderful group of sisters that give with their full hearts love and compassion.   The dinner was a filled evening of great conversation and shared laughter.

By Yesenia Garza Alcalá, PhD Student, International Education & Entrepreneurship, University of the Incarnate Word.


Children’s Workshop Mujeres Emprendedoras de Cambio Puente

May 24, 2019

Visit to Jose Carlos Mariategui school in Cambio Puente

Reading to Fifth Grade Classes

The water filtration workshops were led today. They consisted of a total of two workshops one in Cambio Puente in the morning & the second workshop at Union Del Sur (location in Nuevo Chimbote) in the evening. Being that I wasn’t presenting for this workshop I took part by reading to fifth grade children along with Ann Catherine and Gisel. The classroom had a total of 42 children, which was compromised of two fifth grade classes. The books we read were brought by a fellow traveler Evelyn Garcia, the book titles are; “A Nuestro Alrededor”, by Xelana Gonzalez & Illustrated by Adriana Garcia (Evelyn Garcia’s daughter), “Fiesta”, by Carolina Flores, “El Ratoncito, La Fresa Roja y Madura Y EL GRAN OSO HAMBRIENTO”, by Don y Audrey Wood (the majority of the books read are by San Antonio, TX authors),  we also sang a song about cleaning our hands (melody was similar to La cucaracha) as per below lyrics;

Lava tus manos – Moja tus manos – Siempre usa el jabon

Frota tus manos  Por Adelante – Por atras y los dedos

Y los pulgares – Bajo las unas – Enjuagate las manos

Cuando terminas – Cierra el agua – Has lavado tus manos

By ONU HABITAT, Por un mejor futuro urbano.

children also were wanting to be taught English; we counted together to from one to twenty, recited the alphabet in English, and we diligently went over the first phrase of the song washing their hands in English as well. We went over the first phrase of the lyrics to the song three times in English, the children were ecstatic. There was also an additional language that the children of Jose Carlos Mariategui school in Cambio Puente were taught today, French! Yes, the children recognized that Ann Catherine has as an eloquent accent as she was reading. One of the children recognized this and he asked if she was French. Ann Catherine taught them to count in French 1 thru 10, along with some basic greeting bonjour (hello), merci (thank you), and au revoir (goodbye). The children in this classroom are intuitive and paid extra attention to every detail in the readings and more so when it pertained to learning to speak in English & French. My experience in this classroom was gratifying in the sense that the children were willing to learn and graciously appreciative of “gringos” (term used for foreigners from the United States) visiting their school.


By: Yesenia Garza Alcala

University of the Incarnate Word

Dreeben School of Education

International Education & Entrepreneurship

A Dream of Serving Which Began As a Child

Mural 20190518_133215Evelyn Garcia met Ana at Centro Cultural where she explained a mural of local artists from Chimbote.  (Evelyn’s daughter Adriana Garcia is an outstanding muralist in San Antonio, Texas)

I am super excited that I am traveling to Peru with the Women’s Global Connection, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word like the University of the Incarnate Word.  Since our first meeting in February, I knew it was a chance of my lifetime. My name is Evelyn. I graduated from Incarnate Word College in 1970 with my BSN. The nursing seed was planted by my 2nd grade teacher at St John Berchman’s Grade School. She was a nun with the sisters of St Augustine and given the name Sister Mary MARTHA. She was also a nurse who traveled to developing countries during the summer months and delivered care to under served populations. She would tell us stories about her missionary work during class and applied it to content we were learning. My best friend and I set our goal in 2nd grade to become Registered Nurses like Sister Mary MARTHA.

During my senior year in college, I had a professor in Public Health who told us about a traveling group of health care workers who visited developing countries and delivered health care. It was called the Project Ship Hope. (Note from Sr. Martha Ann:  Sister Charles Marie Frank, CCVI, worked on Ship Hope. When she saw the challenges and needs in Peru, she urged the Incarnate Word Sisters to begin ministry there in the early 1960’s.)

I thought “that’s what want to do!” Soon after graduation, I worked at the Lutheran General Hospital and bought a car…a red Camaro. By 1972, i was working at a Mental Health Field Program. I was always drawn to places that served the marginalized in our city. By 1973, I was married and had a child then in in 1977 we had another child, a mortgage, another car and bills. Gone was my dream to travel with the Project Ship Hope. My path took me instead to Bexar County Hospital, back to LGH, and then to St. Phiilps College SPCas an instructor in Vocational Nursing. Teaching was never in my dreams but then again Sr. Mary MARTHA was a teacher and a nurse. At SPC, I began a 32-year career with the Alamo College District. By 1989, I had attained a Masters in Nursing from UTHSC and received a transfer to San Antonio College to teach in the Associate Degree RN program. I served many 1st generation college students at the colleges. I am a 1st generation to go to college myself. With my students, we served many under served patients in hospitals in our city of SA. I also served our patients in a 2nd summer part time job for 15 years as a Home Health PRN RN delivering care to our patients in their homes. I retired as a Professor from the Alamo Colleges in 2006.

Fast forward to February 2019 and I find myself at an information session at UIW about a WGC Peru Immersion trip. I was hooked. I talked to my husband and he has always been supported in my 46 years of marriage and he said, “You go but i cannot accompany you because of my mobility issues”.

And now I find myself in Peru 50 years after graduation and at 71 years of age achieving a dream. It is not the Project Ship Hope. Instead it is a WGC Peru Immersion Trip. And guess what? Sister MARTHA Ann Kirk is the name of one of our leaders. This trip was meant to be.

As Sister Dorothy Ettling CCVI (1940 -2014) eloquently said, “At it’s core, the mission is about transforming us from viewers of a disconnected and conflicted international reality, to participants in creating a more interconnected and responsive global community.”

By Evelyn Garcia

5000 Years in a 12 hour Day

From 10 am to getting on the 10 pm overnight bus from Lima to Chimbote, the Peru travelers had the intensive “5000 Years of Peruvian History” class intermingled with “Foundations of Incarnate Word Spirituality and History” class.  They all passed both classes with flying colors so they “passed” to the seven-hour bus trip up the Pacific coast and soon they will plunge into “Service in Chimbote” class.

20190517_121344Cardinals “Tweet” at the Museo Larco Entrance

The travelers’ parents will want to check out the Larco Museum pictures and introductory film so that they can have good conversations http://www.museolarco.org/en/  about the brilliant and talented early peoples of Peru who created such fascinating art and architecture.  The museum focuses on 5000 years of Peruvian history and “the intimate bond that existed between pre-Columbian societies and the natural world.” We who are polluting so much of the natural world today can learn from them.

Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador came to Peru in 1535.  Within fourteen years, the Dominican friars came seeking to spread the gospel. They started Santo Domingo Monastery in 1549   http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/southamerica/santo-domingo-church-lima.shtml


University Students of 1551

Well, actually these are the super students of UIW, doctoral, masters, undergrads, and the life-long learners standing in the Santo Domingo  Monastery Chapter room.  Elizabeth, our guide told us that this room with beautiful mahogany carving was the center of the oldest university in the Americas.  Dominicans have been known for promoting education. They began teaching here in 1551 and their fine educational institutions continue to form people all over the Americas.

We saw a sculpture of St. Catherine of Siena, that determined woman who helped the poor and the sick in Italy and she followed the Dominican charism. Sister Martha Ann had prayed with her in Italy last summer  http://www.globalsistersreport.org/column/spirituality/puppet-and-saint-seeking-truth-55441 We reflected on how St. Rose of Lima followed in the footsteps of St. Catherine of Sienna.


Savannah Sandoval Shared on the Life St. Martin De Porres

The Incarnate Word Sisters’ Constitution emphasizes bringing the love of God “through the promotion of human dignity.” In the Spanish empire both native peoples and African slaves were oppressed. Women were often raped.  Martin De Porres, the son a slave woman, was not respected, but he deeply loved God.  He learned of herbal medicines and healed, he helped the needy, he forgave, and taught forgiveness.  His goodness led to him being held up as a saint, the first black saint of the Americas.


Travelers who are nurses and who are studying health care professions stand in St. Martin’s room

In two hours, we walked where the first university students of the Americas walked, where the first saint of the Americas was buried, and where the first black saint of the Americas loved and healed!  Then we also explored downtown Lima near the Cathedral.


Sister Katty at the “Eye That Cries” Memorial

For many of us the most moving part of the day was with Incarnate Word Sister Katty who is the Director of the I.W. Sisters Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office. Her Quichua-speaking family had fled the central part of Peru during the time of terrorism when about 70,000 people had been killed. She took us to the “Eye That Cries” Memorial with stones that have names remembering the victims from a three-year old to one who was one hundred and three.


Sister Katty holds a marker that says Sister Irene

With most of the population of Peru trapped in poverty, some called for reform.  Unfortunately, both those calling for reform and the central government turned to violence rather than listening to the other from about 1980 to 2000.  Read “Danger Did Not Drive Us Out of Peru” to learn a little of those years of violence and the Incarnate Word Sisters’ decision to stay among the people of Peru.     http://www.globalsistersreport.org/column/ministry/danger-did-not-drive-us-out-peru-37021   Sister Katty spoke of a North American Sister of another congregation, Sister Irene McCormack who stayed in Peru and was killed.


We prayerfully walked and prayed among the stones. Truth and reconciliation are needed. May we be ministers of compassion, love, truth, and reconciliation in a world needing healing.

What a joy to be with these travelers full of compassion and generosity.

By Sister Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI

Wonderful Welcome Dinner with Pushaq Warmi

20190518_213102In case your Quechua is not good, Pushaq Warmi means “Guiding Women” and these women of Chimbote certainly guided us to a good time! We enjoyed the lovely home of Maribel and her family.   Family 20190518_193005.jpgThis women’s association  has been encouraging and empowering women for over seven years ever since they began with education in the face of domestic violence. Not only have they helped women’s small business projects, they use radio and television to educate others. Women’s Global Connection and Pushaq Warmi are good partners uniting in mission.  One of their members noted, “When you help a woman, you are helping a whole family.” Not only are these women competent professionals, wives, and mothers, they are also dancers and poets.20190518_19151620190518_192541We were entertained with Peruvian folk music and an original performance poem, compassionate writing about a sick child.20190518_193938All enjoyed a lovely dinner with toasts and laughter.Dinner 20190518_193802.jpgThen things got wild and wonderful as more entered the dance! Ashley 20190518_212344.jpg


20190518_212540We wouldn’t leave without getting some of their beautiful handicrafts. Loan a woman a little money for some cloth and thread and amazing things can be created.  20190518_205601

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Visiting Incarnate Word Sisters in Lima

Sister Mirella and Sister Katty had a delicious dinner for the travelers at their convent in Lima. During the day they enjoyed some of the sites of Lima. 20190516_232727

Dinner prepared by the Sisters at their house in Lima. We enjoyed eating Pollo a la Brasa (a type of roasted chicken), choclo (corn), and lots of fries.

A view of the Cathedral of Lima in downtown.

Walking the streets of downtown Lima. Shops, entertainment and sites fill the streets.

Glimpses of Sister Martha Ann’s past trips

How wonderful to be going to Peru again!  I was a novice when we blessed the first group of Sisters going there in the early 1960’s.  How blessed I am to be taking fine  people to carry forward building relationships with the people of Peru and serving with our Peruvian Incarnate Word Sisters. In this picture you see our WGC 2017 visit with the Shepibo women from the Amazon who are famous for beautiful designs.  You can see their designs at the Smithsonian. We hope to visit them again. Shipebo 20170517_182353

Do you like a bedtime story? You are invited to read “Harper, come with me to Peru” which I wrote for my grandniece when she was one.  We will see many of the same places on this trip. Click here Harper, come to Peru 

2019 WGC Perú Immersion Trip

Today in San Antonio, WGC held a commissioning ceremony to bless and pray for the large group of travelers on our 2019 Perú Immersion Trip. We are so grateful that these volunteers are lending their time, talent and skills to improve the lives of women and families in Lima and Chimbote. Please stay tuned to this Travelblogue for updates on their journey!

Greeting card handmade by Pushaq Warmi, the women’s collaborative in Chimbote that WGC partners with.