About the Trip
Little known, little-visited Paraguay is a country of remarkable contrast: it's rustic and sophisticated; it's extremely poor and obscenely wealthy; it boasts exotic natural reserves and massive human-made dams; it is a place where horses and carts pull up alongside Mercedes-Benz vehicles, artisans' workshops abut glitzy shopping centers, and Jesuit ruins in rural villages lie just a few kilometers from sophisticated colonial towns.
Loma Plata is located in the Paraguayan Chaco. The Chaco is one of South America's last vast wildernesses. Although it makes up approximately 60 percent of the national territory, the Chaco is home to barely three percent of Paraguay's population. While Eastern Paraguay was being colonized in the 1500s, the Chaco proved too hostile to European newcomers. The Chaco remained relatively untouched by outsiders until the late 1800's when the region's vast natural resources began to interest both Paraguayans and foreigners. This eventually resulted in the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay waged between 1932 and 1935.
During the 1920's Paraguay tried to populate the region by allowing a series of Mennonite communities to emigrate to the Chaco. The colonists' hard work and perseverance has created some of Paraguay's most prosperous communities. Throughout their history, the Mennonite colonies have been a focal point for progress in the region.
The Chaco is marked by astonishing biodiversity of flora and fauna including over 500 species of birds and 150 species of mammals. The Chaco is home to several of Paraguay's most endangered species including large mammals such as jaguars, pumas, and tapirs.
The Chaco is home to many indigenous communities. Indigenous men flock to the Mennonite colonies and area cattle ranches in search of low wage jobs. Several indigenous communities have been relocated from other areas of Paraguay to the Chaco by the government, often in order to make way for agricultural ventures. During the clinic trip, we will be working with Mennonites to serve populations who lack care in the region. We will most likely be serving many indigenous people during this trip.
Our local partner, Fundación Panambi received its first shipment from Project C.U.R.E. in 2012. Since then there have been 3 more shipments. In fall of 2017, our partner was exploring the possibility of sending a container to El Chaco after our fall C.U.R.E. Clinic. During the 2017 C.U.R.E. Clinic, several Lion's volunteers from Loma Plata contributed translation services and thus became interested in bringing C.U.R.E. Clinics to their community. During our trip, we will be working collaboratively with local staff seeing patients and sharing knowledge. The people of Paraguay are warm and jovial and look forward to welcoming us. We will enjoy the good work we do as well as great company, delicious local food, Paraguayan culture and hospitality as well as visiting some of the local sites.
We can take all medical specialties and backgrounds on this trip! Our partner specifically requested the following:
- OBGYN services including cervical cancer screening and treatment (Project C.U.R.E. has the supplies)
About the Country
Paraguay is a small (157,000 square miles) country landlocked in the very heart of the South American continent. It has a population of approximately 6.3 million people, the vast majority of whom are mestizo (mixed Spanish and indigenous heritage). Paraguay has had a very sad history of war and dictatorship, although both are now in the past. The most recent war was with Bolivia during 1932-1935. The war was costly in terms of life and property, but it resulted in Paraguay annexing a significant portion of the Gran Chaco, adding to the northwestern part of the country. Paraguay entered a time of isolation from the outside world during the dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner who took over the country in 1954. His rule lasted until a coup ousted him in 1989. Since then the country has opened up to the world and there have been democratically elected leaders.
About the Clinics Site
Loma Plata is a remote region of Paraguay first scouted out by a group of Canadian Mennonites as a possible location for a new colony in 1921. Six years later, the colony of Menno was established. Despite the many hardships they faced, the colonists managed to turn Loma Plata into a thriving town. The city functions as the administrative center for Chortitzer Cooperative which distributes the popular Trebol brand of dairy products. Sites are still being chosen within Loma Plata. Expect remote pop up clinics with a possible collaboration with the local hospital or other clinics. Paraguay has been a historically great place for C.U.R.E. Clinics. Very few people travel to Paraguay and therefore the people are very happy to receive us and our services. You will experience hospitality and gratitude in unbelievable amounts.
About the Program Cost
Your tax-deductible donation to participate on a Project C.U.R.E. Clinics Trip to Paraguay is $1,800. This program cost covers all accommodations, meals, clean water, and transportation once in-country, including internal airfare, buses/cars/taxies, fuel costs, drivers, and tips. Program costs also include the coverage of translators, medications, C.U.R.E. Kits, Kits for Kids, travel and evacuation insurance, Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) with the State Department, medical license transfer procedures, departure travel packet with Project C.U.R.E. scrub set, and all associated shipping costs. Additionally, tour guides and small touristic excursions and activities are included. Please note alcohol, internet access, laundry, and personal souvenirs are not covered in the program cost. International travel is not covered in the program cost.
Please note that costs associated with obtaining your visa are not included in the program cost. In 2016 & 2017 we were able to receive a visa fee waiver and the only cost associated with the visa was the cost of expedited shipping to and from the Paraguayan Consulate in Miami.
You will have the opportunity to arrange your own international airfare to and from Paraguay. Should you prefer Project C.U.R.E to arrange your international airfare and trip in full, we will put you in touch with our travel agents which will incur an additional fee of $30-$100. Be sure to notify us if you would prefer this option. Suggested flight itinerary will be posted in the near future!
Sample Trip Itinerary
Day 1: Your excursion begins as you leave the U.S. on Friday and arrive in Paraguay on Saturday.
Day 2: Sunday we will travel to Loma Plata by private transport, a 6-hour journey from Asuncion. That evening we will re-pack our medical supplies and prepare for clinics on Monday.
Day 3: Give back to the local community by providing primary medical care on your first clinic day at one of the rural clinic locations. Work with local staff in putting to use the recent supplies sent by Project C.U.R.E.
Day 4: Day 2 of rural clinics.
Day 5: Day 3 of clinics.
Day 6: Day 4 half day clinics followed by travel back to Asuncion.
Day 7: Tour day! Get to know more of the culture and history of Paraguay!
Day 8: Travel back to your homes on an overnight flight!