AUGUST 17, 1962
CAMPOBELLO, NEW BRUNSWICK—I have just read a most interesting report on the recent activities in Peru of Project Hope, a voluntary American program to promote better health and international goodwill.
I believe too little is known in the U. S. about what is being done by this program, which is not a government project but the brainchild of Dr. William B. Walsh of Washington, D.C. Through his energy and interest, a hospital ship was obtained from the government and renamed "Hope." A government loan then enabled Dr. Walsh to assemble a staff and get started on what is a people's program that must be supported by the people of the U. S. One aspect of great interest is whether a private activity of this kind has a greater effect on the people of the country where the work is done than if it were carried out by the government alone.
A very satisfactory answer to this question is given by Dr. David Gurewitsch and Dr. Lester Mount, the two experts who wrote the report. Project Hope is primarily educational. It carries out a teaching program for all personnel necessary for the running of a hospital. This includes teaching not only of doctors, medical students and nurses, but also of dieticians, nurses' aides, technicians, ward boys and cooks. The project, says Dr. Mount, is already a great success in Trujillo, where the doctors and patients are all grateful for the help given.
Project doctors and dentists volunteer their time and talents. The nurses and technicians receive only a nominal sum. All financial support comes from the people of the U.S. Equipment, according to Dr. Mount, is often in short supply. Nevertheless he was able to accomplish much in his special field of neurosurgery.
S.S. Hope, of course, only goes where it is invited. The invitation to Peru was made by Dr. Fernando Cabieses Molina, a neurosurgeon, in the name of the North American Peruvian Medical Association, of which he is president, and the University of Trujillo. S.S. Hope, which acts both as a hospital and a teaching center, is anchored off the port of Falanberry, which is the seaport for the city of Trujillo. But the rotating doctors and staff that come there work also in Lima and in the neighboring cities to Trujillo.
"The reception by the community at large, Dr. Gurewitsch says in his report, "is not just polite hospitality and welcome of such unexpected and free services. The underdeveloped countries have learned to accept and to respect U.S. generosity with equanimity. The reception is enthusiastic and full of a nearly frightening degree of expectation, gratitude, and warmth. All parts of the population have come for help and the type of help given those goes to the depth of human emotional response. During my term of duty on the ship there occurred the breaking off of diplomatic relations by the U.S. following the taking over of political power by the Army. We could observe the variety of reactions of the Peruvian people to these events. At no time, however, could I register any animosity against the activities of the Hope ship.
"The activity of the Hope team continued undisturbed and without being cut. I participated in one way or another in most of the program as it was being carried out—the daily milk distribution, vaccination programs, the clinics in the different poor districts, the clinics at the Belen Hospital in Trujillo, and the occasional surgery, the out-patients department, and the hospital on the boat itself."
Dr. Gurewitsch says that because of a great deal of neglected polio there is much need for physical rehabilitation and for training in the field of physical medicine for doctors, who are unaware, as yet, of what can and should be done. He lists what he was able to accomplish, and he returned with great enthusiasm to try to make sure there is continuous rotation of four-week volunteers, a furnishing of much equipment, and a better understanding among the people of the U.S. of what Project Hope is doing for international goodwill and for improvement of health in Peru.