Doctor provides medical care in native country during mission
By by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III, Air Force News Agency
/ Published June 25, 2008
AYACUCHO, Peru (AFPN) -- "I see myself in their faces."
These are the words of Maj. (Dr.) Victor Inga, an Air Force doctor participating in New Horizons - Peru 2008, a humanitarian mission providing relief for underprivileged Peruvians.
Doctor Inga uttered these words seconds after he watched yet another young Peruvian boy walk through the door of the makeshift doctor's office inside a local elementary school.
The doctor was nearly moved to tears.
Doctor Inga has dedicated his life to medicine and humanitarian efforts, but this mission really hit home. The uniqueness of this mission for him is that Peru is his native country.
The doctor was born and raised in the city of Lima, but became an American citizen more than 25 years ago and while he considers the United States his home, the people of Peru rest heavy on his heart.
"I am them and they are me," he said. "I'm very happy to come here to help people who practically have nothing. There is no food to eat, their houses are very bad; it makes me very sad, but I'm happy to be here."
The doctor and more than 800 U.S. Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Sailors are here participating in humanitarian efforts that include building schools, medical clinics and water wells, and providing much needed medical care for the poorest regions of Ayacucho, Peru.
During this mission, the doctor is caring for patients with general medical problems ranging from malnutrition, various infections, parasites, anemia and diseases common to the region. He also serves as one of the translators for the Task Force New Horizons medical team.
U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy medical personnel, operating on a rotational schedule, will lead nine, three-day medical operations and are scheduled to treat up to 750 patients per day and up to 20,000 patients during the entire mission.
"The children smile when they see us here," Doctor Inga said, "They can not believe the U.S. military is here to help them."
Doctor Inga is proud to see so many young servicemembers participating in humanitarian missions inside Peru because he feels wearing the uniform and giving back to others is the greatest way to serve your country.
For the Peruvian people seeing him wearing the U.S. Air Force uniform also provides them with hope.
"Please stay here with us," a single mother of four malnourished children said when hearing the doctor was a Peruvian native.
For Doctor Inga it hurts and he knows that he is needed. After he treated the family and watched the woman walk out his tattered doorway, the doctor paused and put his head down and asked himself.
"Who is going to care for these kids?"
New Horizons projects are a physical manifestation of U.S. Southern Command's commitment to enhancing cooperation with the people of Peru and partner nations in Latin America and in the Caribbean. Seven additional New Horizons exercises are scheduled to take place this year in Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Panama.