PASEO Program Adventure—Day 42: Trujillo and Huaraz, Peru

This morning (Friday), we hopped on a 9:30am bus that took us from Trujillo to Huaraz. As we drove eight hours north into the capital of the Ancash region, we came across beautiful sites, and snow-covered mountain tops.  

Today (still Friday) is the start of The Fiestas Patrias, or Peruvian National Holidays, which are celebrations of Peru’s independence from the Spanish Empire. The celebrations continue from Friday until Saturday, so tonight, we stopped by Huaraz’s Plaza de Armas, where a rock concert celebrating rock bands from all across Peru was taking place. It was great being able to celebrate such a joyous occasion with great company, and of course seeing such a strong sense of patriotism among the locals. 

PASEO Program Adventure—Day 24: El Porvenir y Trujillo, Peru

This afternoon (Monday), we had our weekly meeting with a group of local women and family members in El Porvenir that I spoke about in prior posts. Each week, two students from the program are responsible for teaching the group members relaxation and emotional regulation techniques for them to utilize at any given moment and teach others in their community. This week focused on psychoeducation regarding anger and ways that anger can manifest and build up if not properly released.

Due to gender roles and societal expectations, in many cases, women are not “supposed” to experience any other feelings aside from sadness (because of course men can only be angry and women can only be sad). For this reason, it’s so important to discuss and normalize feelings of anger because without doing so, it would likely continue to remain an unspoken topic that women “should not” discuss. Throughout the next week, we’ll place more of a focus on how to release such feelings in a positive and healthy manner, now that these feelings have been normalized and accepted.

After the group, we drove into Trujillo for our Psychology in Peru class. During the class, we each participated in Biodanza, “a system of self-development that uses music, movement and positive feelings to deepen self-awareness. Biodanza seeks to promote the ability to make a holistic link to oneself and one’s emotions and to express them.” Biodanza, originating from the Greek word bio (life) and danza (dance in Spanish), translates to the dance of life. The purpose of Biodanza is to focus on human integration, organic renewal, affective re-education and relearning of the original functions of life. Its methodology is to induce integrative experiences through music, singing, movement, and situations of group encounter.

Biodanza has five main tenants including: 1) Vitality: Increased joy of life, vital momentum (energy available for action), motor integration, neurovegetative balance. 2) Sexuality: Awakening the source of desire, increased pleasure, connection with sexual identity, and decreased sexual repression. 3) Creativity: Ability to express, innovate, and construct. 4) Activity: Ability to make connections with other people through love, friendship, altruism, and empathy. 5) Transcendence: Connection with nature and feeling of belonging to the universe.

Participating in Biodanza was truly an eye-opening and enlightening experience. Seeing as not everyone may be able to verbally express themselves the way they may like, being able to express oneself through natural and fluid movements in a safe and accepting group environment may be a beneficial alternative—especially when “talk” therapy is considered taboo in many cultures.

Barcelona, Spain: Plaça Reial and Flamenco Dancing

After we walked along Las Ramblas, we turned on one of the side streets, which led us to Plaça Reial. Plaça Reial is a historic square, which translates to “Royal Plaza” from Catalan.

Around 1835, religious buildings were confiscated throughout the city, which was the case of a Capuchin convent where Plaça Royal was later built. At the time, the square was meant to praise King Ferdinand VII with a statue of him in the center of the plaza. When this idea didn’t come to fruition, a beautiful fountain of the Three Graces was built instead, representing beauty, charm, and joy. There are two street lamps beside the fountain, both designed by Antoni Gaudí (

Since this was the last of Gaudi of artwork we would see

After walking around Plaça Reial, it was time for us to enter Los Tarantos, a flamenco show in the plaza. This thirty minute show was absolutely incredible, and it gave us a great appreciation for this beautiful dance. After the show, my sister and I ate dinner in the plaza at a restaurant that serves traditional Spanish food. We ordered croquetas de pollo, or chicken croquets, gazpacho (a cold, tomato-based soup), sangria (of course), paella negra (which is really called arròs negre in Catalan). This meal is made with cuttlefish or squid, which is how it gets its black color. The food was delicious, and it was truly the perfect way to conclude our trip to Barcelona. Now it was time for us to head to the airport and arrive at our final destination—Israel.

Snapshot Challenge Saturday

To conclude my story-telling from my trip to Guatemala for a medical mission this past summer, I’ll leave you with this story. A mother sat down at my triage table with her twelve-year-old daughter and two-year old baby. Upon inquiring into her medical needs and what we could do for the three of them, the mother explained that she had been experiencing depression for quite some time now. Her twelve-year-old daughter had severe asthma, and her mother could not afford to purchase the necessary medication for her. Seeing her daughter so sick and constantly suffering from asthma attacks led the mother into a state of depression. Feeling as though there was nothing she could do for her daughter, the mother had been experiencing feelings of hopelessness and despair on behalf of her daughter. She could not bear seeing her daughter in such a terrible state.

I promised the mother that the doctors would take good care of her daughter, and provide her with the medication needed to help better her asthma. She continuously thanked me, as I walked them over to the room where the pediatricians were working. Later in the day, the mother approached me with a bag of medication and thanked me for my help. She explained that she, as well as her newborn and twelve-year-old daughter had each been seen by a doctor, and that her daughter had received asthma medication to last for four months. She was so appreciative, but she asked if we happened to have any more medicine, seeing as our mission would not be returning for a total of six months.

I walked into the makeshift pharmacy, and the pharmacist said there were only three boxes of asthma medications remaining, but they were not the same kind as the young girl received from the doctor. The mother asked if there was anything I could do, because she didn’t want her daughter to experience such awful asthma attacks again once the medication ran out four months later. I took the new box of asthma medicine and asked the pediatrician if it would be okay to give to the young girl, and he mentioned it was fine; it was just a different brand of medicine. I gave the mother the last three boxes of asthma medication for her daughter, and she actually jumped for joy.

I am not able to understand what it is like to be a parent who has to see his or her child suffer from such severe asthma attacks, but I was able witness firsthand how excited this mother was to receive just enough medicine to last a few extra months for her little girl. Something so simple such as asthma medication is not something I would typically think too much of. But unfortunately, this happens to be a given of life: we often take things for granted without realizing that somewhere in the world, someone would be beyond appreciate of such a possession—especially this particular medication. Seeing the joy in this mother’s eyes was most definitely a beautiful sight to see, and there is no other story I would have wanted to use to conclude the sharing of my experiences on a medical mission to Guatemala this past June.


A Memorable Experience of Disfuncionado

I recently came back from a medical mission trip to Guatemala, and let me say, it definitely didn’t disappoint! This was my fourth time going back since 2009, and it was a blast! Medical missionary trips provide some of life’s best experiences, and I am fortunate enough to have been able to attend this past mission, which will forever leave an imprint in my mind. We worked in a poverty and disease stricken city called Sumpango, and turned a church into a makeshift clinic, providing medical care to people who either haven’t received medical care in years, or haven’t received medical care at all throughout their lives. I was assigned to work in Triage, which was the first place the people came upon signing in outside and waiting in line. The rest of the triage team and I took people’s blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and wrote down their basic information as well as what was wrong with them. We then assigned them to a doctor and escorted them to that part of the clinic. If there is one thing that I have realized from spending time in Guatemala these past few years, it is that Guatemalans, especially from Sumpango, are some of the most humble, kindest people you will ever meet. So as the day progressed, I met incredible people who constantly thanked me, even though I was merely taking down their information. “Muchas gracias doctor” was a common phrase I got used to even though I wasn’t a doctor; but hey, I wasn’t going to correct them. This was the one time I could let me ego boost up a little bit, so I gladly accepted being called doctor.

After having taken down the information of quite a few people, the next man in line came in our tented area and sat down next to me. I began conversing with him, wrote down his name and age, and asked him what brought him in; what was wrong with him. “Tengo disfuncionado,” he said, meaning “I have dysfunction.” Since people had been waiting in line outside for hours to see us, I had set up my own table to see extra people so we could hurry things along, before this man walked in. By no means am I fluent in Spanish, but I was doing pretty well working alone and whenever I needed something translated, I would just ask fellow volunteers around me. I thought maybe dysfunction was a type of disease or illness specific to this town, so I called over someone from my trip to find out what was wrong with this man. “Qué paso,” she asked. “Como estás?” “Tengo disfuncionado,” he replied again, in a low voice. She took a few seconds to think about it and responded with “Tienes una esposa? He answered this question of whether he has a wife with “Si.” She then asked, “Quieres tener divertido con tu esposa?” meaning, do you want to have fun with your wife? The man’s face lit up as if it were Christmas morning and he let out a happy “SI!” It turns out that this whole time he was talking about erectile disfunction, and seeing the look on his face upon giving him the medication he requested was beyond priceless, showing us not to take things in life for granted. Of course this was one of the most minor cases we saw, but it was definitely a memorable one.

A while later, in walked an 82-year-old lady who had been having troubles with her eyesight. She mentioned that is was beyond difficult for her to see, as things had been blurry to her for quite some time. We handed her a pair of prescribed glasses that had been in one of the duffel bags next to us, and when she put them on, she shed a tear. Being able to see clearly was such an amazing feeling for this woman, and seeing the joy that we were able to bring to her was one of the most rewarding feelings one could have.

By the end of the trip, we saw over one thousand patients, with various illnesses, and truly made a difference in the city of Sumpango. More stories from this trip are yet to come, but for now, I’d like everyone to take away one thing from this post. Don’t take what you have in life for granted. Not everyone is as fortunate as we are, so truly cherish what you have and those around you. Some of life’s simplest items such as glasses and sight are overlooked each and every day, but if we learn to appreciate all that we have, you’ll notice that the quality of your life will improve immensely.

The elderly lady in the middle is the one who received prescription glasses, thus improving her vision for plenty of time to come.

Love Your Enemy (Repost)

Reblogged from anilraheja

love your enemy.
your biggest lesson.
your biggest learning.
your enemy.
your best teacher.
everything that’s to overcome.
love your enemy.
like you love God.
and then let it all go.
be reborn.
a new person.
then you can be.
at peace.
with each other.
with nature.
with God.
with your SELF.
at complete peace.
with no enemy.

The Hug Award

The HUG Award

Hope Unites Globally

I have been nominated by Jen from Step On A Crack…or Break Your Mother’s Back for the HUG Award.

Jen is one of the many people who brings joy and wisdom into the blogging community through her insightful comments and great pots. I would highly recommend checking out Jen’s blog because not only is it an awesome read, but if you haven’t already met Jen, then you’re missing out! Thanks again for this amazing award!

For more information on this award, please visit:

I would like to give the following blogs a very big HUG for their insight, encouragement, and wisdom. Each of these bloggers make the writing process beyond enjoyable, and they all provide us with the gift of their blog, and for that, I could not be more thankful.

Thank you for all that you do.

Best, Dan