CATARACT SURGICAL AND MEDICAL MISSION - Calca in the Sacred Valley of Peru 

Our June 2016 Cataract Surgical and Medical Mission to Calca in the Sacred Valley of Peru was a great success!!  Over 400 medical patients and 924 eye clinic patients were examined, close to 1,600 pairs of distance, reading and non prescription sunglasses were dispensed, 51 eye surgeries and over 100 ultrasound procedures were performed.  This was accomplished by our 51 participants which included 11 physicians, 3 optometrists, 4 R.N.’s, 1 certified ultrasound technician, 1 certified surgical technician, medical students from Stony Brook, Columbia and NY Osteopathic medical school, nurse practitioner and physician assistant students from Stony Brook.

Since the inception of our organization in 2011, our portable eye clinic and operating room has examined over 4,000 patients, distributed 6,700 pairs of prescription glasses/sunglasses and performed close to 400 site restoring surgical procedures.  The portable medical clinic has administered health care to approximately 7,850 patients to people and performed approximately 250 portable ultrasound examinations.  We could not have done all of this work without the support of so many individuals, who have donated their time, energy, and funds to our cause.  A Promise to Peru, Inc. thanks each and everyone of you!


On behalf of the Board of Directors of A Promise to Peru, Inc. we wanted to thank each and every one of our participants for your generous donation of time, expertise, personal expense and for your passion of assisting those less fortunate in receiving quality medical and surgical care in Guayaquil, Ecuador. This year, for the first time, we expanded our presence to another country & worked with another nonprofit organization that has years more experience than us.  Blanca’s House enjoys an excellent reputation within our community on Long Island and for good reason, they were a pleasure to work with and we learned so much from this joint venture. Our intentions are always the best…to provide quality medical and eye care to our patients and we believe we were successful, thanks to all of our participants and our many devoted and generous donors!

Mission 2015 Results:

  1. Number of medical patients examined and treated were a staggering….400 patients
  2. 90 ultrasound procedures were performed
  3. Over 1,000 pairs of prescription glasses & 400 sunglasses dispensed
  4. 240 patients were examined by ophthalmologists and 128 cataract surgeries were performed.  The most ever! The majority (75%) of the patients operated on were legally blind (Visual acuity of 20/200 or less) in their operated eye prior to surgery; the potential to truly change a person’s life was indeed very real.


The total sum of services donated equaled $434,100.00, not including the medications & supplies that were purchased by A Promise to Peru or donated to our organization by so many generous supporters of ours. A Promise to Peru’s operating expenses for this mission was approximately $10,000.

Finally, we again thank all 52 of you -physicians, students, nurses, PAs, nurse practitioners, pharmacist, surgical technicians, ultrasound technician, instrument sterilization team, translator, videographer, photographer and your families, businesses and spouses that supported your trip with us!

Patiently waiting to be seen in the medical clinic

Each patient is given the attention they need after waiting many hours on line.

Nurse Assistant, Julia Colmenares preparing to bring our young patient to the operating room

Dr. Sable examining a patient

Dr. Appel, Ophthalmologist

Eye Exam

128 cataract surgeries, free of charge were performed here at the Military Hospital of Guayaquil

Dr. Fred Davis, Emergency Medicine Physician and repeat participant

Medical Clinic

Dr Turrin, Emergency Medicine Resident, this is her second mission with A Promise to Peru, Inc.

Our photographer takes a moment to spend some time with a patient

Guayaquil, Equador

Third year medical student preparing patient for eye surgery

Preoperative Area for patients and staff

Dr. Coritsidis examining a patient prior to her cataract surgery

Caroline Rienzo, RN assisting in an extracapsular cataract extraction

Dr. Sable with his very happy patient and her mom

Monitoring of the patient’s vital signs during surgery

Administering drops prior to surgery

Damaris Raymondi, optometrist

Our sterilization team, waiting for the next round of instruments

Operating Room Team 2015


———————————————————————————————————————-Cataract Surgical and Medical Mission 2014 to Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru

Summary: The board members of A Promise to Peru, Inc. express their gratitude to each and everyone of the 55 mission participants for their involvement with the mission.  The successes listed below could not have been accomplished without the team’s countless hours spent in the preparation leading up to the mission and for their hard work during the long days of the mission.

Mission 2014 Results:

I. Statistics:
Over 1,650 patients were evaluated in the medical and eye clinics, more than 1,000 pairs of prescription glasses and sunglasses were dispensed, over 50 ultrasound exams were performed and 84 eye surgeries were performed.  Many patients with very poor vision were once again able to see their world and be part of a community once again.   An increase of 68% more surgeries were performed this year compared to last year’s mission.  This significant increase was the result of many people and organizations in the U.S. and in Peru working together to identfy and treat the neediest patients. Special thanks to: Dr Victor Rozas of Peruvian American Medical Society, Dr Francisco Morales of Wiñaypaq Association Pro Human Development, Helena Van Engelen & Foundacion Ninos del Arco Iris, Dr Frilo Silva & Caprese Eye Clinic, Cuzco and Surgical Eye Expeditions of Santa Barbara, California.

II. Commitment to Education of Local Physicians and Patients:
Physicians from A Promise to Peru, Inc were invited to participate in the ” 3rd International Health Symposium in the Sacred Valley, Peru” at the Urubamba Hospital on July 3, 2014. Peruvian physician Dr. Francisco Morales organized the lecture symposium. It was a three-day lecture symposium working with the Peru Health Outreach Project, Cleveland Clinic, Wiñaypaq Association Pro Human Development workers and A Promise to Peru INC. in order to have an exchange of knowledge.  Dr. George Coritsidis of Elmhurst/Mount Sinai Medical Center, NY lectured to a group of Peruvian physicians and health care workers about Diabetes and Renal Complications, Dr. Rita Rossi Foulkes of the University of Chicago, Illinois gave a lecture on Asthma and Dr. Sid Dante of the University of Chicago gave a lecture on eczema, dry skin care and sun protection.  The afternoon lecture series was well attended.

Member of the surgical team, Dr Jack Oats, Dr Mike Sable and Dr Angie Vaccaro
A Promise to Peru
This patient had cataract surgery on the only eye he could barely see with.  The patch that he needed to wear for 24 hours, left him completely blind.  Members of our team not only brought him to his taxi, but rode home with him to make sure he reached his family and home safely
Mike Cipoletti, Director of the non profit organization Friends NE, spending time with some of our patients

Surgical technician Lorena Chinchilla with Bindu Rai, RN

Patients waiting to be seen in the ophthalmology clinic

B. Patient Education: Medical students held workshops for patients on topics such as dental hygiene, back exercises to prevent lower back pain, hand washing.

III. Mentoring Undergraduate and Graduate Students and Physicians in Residency Training:
This experience assists in shaping these students career paths and in formulating empathetic and compassionate health care providers.

This mission’s participants included:

  • 4 Resident physicians in Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine and Pediatric from Residency programs in New York and Chicago.
  • 18 Graduate students from multiple disciplines (12 medical students, 3 optometry students,  2 masters in public health program students and  1 doctorate of pharmacology student).
  • 4 undergraduate students

IV. Our Commitment to Research:
A. “Childhood Malnutrition in the Region of Cusco, Peru: Urban vs. Rural-“ IRB approved research study with University of Connecticut Masters in Public Health Program and Wiñaypaq Association Pro Human Development Institution in Pisac, Peru. Two graduate students from University of Connecticut’s masters in Public Health Program initiated this study this July.

B. “A Retrospective Chart Review to Determine the Effect of Portable Ultrasonography on Diagnostic Capability in the Peruvian Andes” is a Stony Brook School of Medicine IRB approved study.  ‘Portable ultrasonography enhances diagnostic capability in the Peruvian Andes’ was accepted as a poster presentation at the 5th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference in Washington, D.C. May 2014 and the abstract was recently accepted for publication in the Annals of Global Health journal.

Now that you have experienced first hand what our organization accomplishes, please continue to support us in our fund raising efforts. If you are interested in making a donation or you have a fund raising idea, please feel free to contact us. We plan to raise money to purchase ophthalmic and surgical equipment so that we will not have to borrow from other sources and therefore will need many tens of thousands of dollars to reach our goal.

JetBlue has generously provided the air transportation for 45 out of the 55 participants from Boston, New York and Chicago to Lima, Peru. As a result of JetBlue’s commitment to this project, the transport of the medical and surgical equipment, instruments, medications and supplies has also been included. “This mission is another great example of our longstanding partnership with Airlink, a non-profit organization that connects NGOs (non-profit organizations) with airlines,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue Airways, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility. “This effort will help a medical team provide much-needed care in a previously underserved area. We felt it was important to contribute to these efforts.

Read more here.

3rd International Health Symposium

Physicians from A Promise to Peru, Inc were invited to participate in the ” 3rd International Health Symposium in the Sacred Valley, Peru” at the Urubamba Hospital on July 3, 2014. The Lecture symposium was organized by Peruvian physician Dr Francisco Morales. It was a  three day lecture symposium working with the Peru Health Outreach Project, Cleveland Clinic and Wiñaypaq Association Pro Human Development.   Dr George Coritsidis of Elmhurst/Mount Sinai Medical Center, NY lectured to a group of Peruvian physicians and health care workers about Diabetes and Renal Complications, Dr Rita Rossi Foulkes of University of Chicago gave a lecture on Asthma and Dr Sid Dante of University of Chicago gave a lecture on Eczema, Dry skin care and sun protection.The lecture series was well attended.

Many thanks to our mission photographer, Karyn Sable





2013 Team

Cataract Surgical and Medical Mission June 30-July 12, 2013 Summary

A Promise to Peru’s first week consisted of the cataract surgical mission and a sub specialty medical clinic. Our organization was invited to operate at the new municipal hospital in Urubamba, by the Peruvian Minister of Health. Our group transported a full service eye clinic and 2 portable OR’s (via 50 suitcases). We provided over 600 eye exams, 50 surgical procedures and by the end of the 2 weeks 1,700 pairs of glasses were distributed. During the same week we had 3 days of specialty clinics (Infectious disease, nephrology, dermatology) and introduced portable ultrasonography to our program for the first year. Our physicians also gave lectures to the local physicians on requested topics. Finally that week, we opened dialogue with the CEO of the largest hospital in Cuzco to possibly have an exchange of students/residents in the future. The second week was composed of a traveling medical and eye clinic. Approximately 125 patients were evaluated per day either in remote towns or in clinics. Welcomed new additions this year were the women’s health clinic, ultrasonography and 2 optometry students that were able to refract the patients for complicated distance corrections. All of the students did a great job assuming their daily responsibilities and provided the perfect example of the ability to have a program where students from various institutions and programs can work harmoniously and effectively together. There are numerous missions, but few that can boast about this fact. Finally, this year we introduced the idea of taking these experiences and examining them as research projects. We were able to coordinate a joint research study with several of our med students along with several MPH students and Tia Palermo, PhD from SB MPH program. IRB approval was obtained from both Stony Brook and the Peruvian Minister of Health to examine the impact of cataract surgery on the health related quality of life of this patient population. We believe that our experiences here may generate up to 4 abstracts this year at various conferences and will include our students. The results of these endeavors remain to be seen.

The teamwork started 10 months prior, initially with the core team of physicians Shanley, Di Gioia, Coritsidis, Sable, Rozas and myself. We worked with the director of the NGO, Friends NE, Mike Cipoletti and Travis Kumph to coordinate the surgical and medical weeks with the Peruvian Drs Silva and Morales and with Helena Van Engelen from Foundacion Ninos del Arco Iris and Edwin Gonzales from La Quinta Hotel. Together with our motivated and energetic medical students countless hours of preparation went into planning the 2 week mission. Despite obtaining the vast majority of the medications, surgical supplies and intraocular implants as donations the mission still spent close to $10,000 on operating expenses. One of our goals this year will be to fundraise not only to cover operating expenses but also to purchase diagnostic ophthalmic equipment. We have many plans for our non profit organization and whether you physically join us on our next mission or not, it is my hope that you will spread the word about A Promise to Peru, Inc. and help us grow.
We were fortunate to have each and every one of our participants volunteer their time to spend with us in Peru. I believe that many of you have created new friendships that will last a lifetime (I know that my family and I have) and the feeling of offering your knowledge and your time to people that have so much less that we do, is really indescribable. Again,on behalf of the board members… John Shanley, Natalie Di Gioia, George Coritsidis, Mike Sable and I, we sincerely thank you for all of your hard work and participation in A Promise to Peru, Inc.’s Cataract Surgical and Medical Mission 2013.
All the Best,
Debra Messina, M.D.
2014 Mission Accomplishments
The Minister of Health invited A Promise to Peru to evaluate patients and perform cataract surgery at the Urubamba Hospital
Physicians and Stony Brook medical students unpacking the 50 suitcases of equipment and surgical supplies
SUNY Optometry Students unpacking their equipment and 2,000 pairs of glasses
Dr. Patel diagnoses a cataract that is significantly impairing this patents vision. He was scheduled for surgery later that same day.
Dr. Bill Epstein from Oregon with one patient from a remote village in the Andes Mountains. Dr. Bill Epstein has participated in multiple surgical missions, including missions to Nepal and Vietnam.
Mr. Ken Roberts obtaining a visual acuity from a patient. Mr Roberts is the president of a Long Island Hospital in New York.
A Promise To Peru
In addition to the eye clinic, Medical clinics were held for various sub specialties. Dr. Shanley held an Infectious Disease Clinic. Pictured here with a patient and medical students.
A Promise To Peru
A portable ultrasound was loaned to A Promise to Peru by SonoSite. This is Dr. Coritsidis with medical students discussing with a patient the results the ultrasound test.
A Promise To Peru
Patients traveled for hours often by foot to reach our clinic. The line to be evaluated went out the door of the hospital.
Two cataract surgeries were able to be performed at the same time.
A Promise To Peru
Dr. Ng, who monitored the patients before, during and after the surgery shown here with Dr. Sable, an ophthalmologist from New York.
Cataract Surgical Mission Team 2013: A Promise to Peru and Foundacion Ninos del Arco Iris members

Journal by Eric Rios-Doria

Having parents of Peruvian descent gave me a special connection to the mission trip. As a child, I would travel frequently to Lima, the capital, where I have many relatives. Here I was exposed to the poverty and poor health conditions of the people, which fostered my interest in global health. The mission took us to the Sacred Valley region, an area of Peru I had never visited. Working with my father, an ob-gyn, was special. Having completed his medical degree in Peru, he was excited to travel back and be involved in international medicine. I was excited to travel back and work with him to help to the people of Peru in a meaningful way.

Cataract Surgical patient expresses his gratitude to Dr Sable and the surgical team, Urubamba Hospital, July 2013
Dr Sable operated on his first eye last year and he had his second one done this past summer. Take a look!

A Promise to Peru – Patient Account – Continued from A Promise to Peru on Vimeo.

A Promise to Peru – Patient Acount from A Promise to Peru on Vimeo.


Eric Rios-Doria’s Peru Mission Video


2013 mission moments – Julia caring for her patient
This picture was taken of Julia Colmenares, Certified Nurse Assistant and a patient who was brought to the clinic by her daughter, an ophthalmologist in Peru. This was a heartwarming bond that was captured, showing Julia hugging the patient. Julia caring for her patient

Cataract Surgical and Medical Mission 2012 Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru

A Promise to Peru was founded by John Shanley, MD, Debra Messina, MD (StonyBrook School of Medicine ‘88) and Natalie DiGioia, MD (StonyBrook School of Medicine ‘01) in October 2011.  The organization works with local New York physicians and Stony Brook University’s medical students who are interested in providing medical care to remote areas of the Sacred Valley in Peru.  There are two successful missions that A Promise to Peru offers: The medical mission (June 25- July 20, 2012) and a newly founded cataract surgical mission (July 2-6, 2012) by Dr. Messina. The three physicians who established A Promise to Peru worked diligently towards a common goal of offering needed medical and surgical cataract eye care during the past year. Through several fund raising efforts, money was raised to support purchasing medications and supplies to fund last year’s mission thanks to our generous donors.

The mission in 2012 had an unprecedented response from volunteer faculty.  Some of the physicians that joined the mission this year were Stony Brook alumni, faculty and staff at Stony Brook Hospital and physicians from the metropolitan area.  The medical mission that traveled for four weeks to remote towns in the Sacred Valley included attending physicians, nurses, medical students, other health professionals and family members. The participants were John Shanley, MD, Robert Bobrow, MD and his wife,  Evelyn Marienberg, MD (’88) with her daughter, Traci Downs, MD( ’94), Miriam Maher, MD (’94), Tiffany Moadel, MD (’11), Glenn Sterling, MD (’88) with his son,  Paul Galstian, OD and his son, Joyce Quick, PA, Dorcas Casuala, RN, Candice Miller, RN, 18 medical students: Amanda Chu, Brendan Carr,  Neva Castro, James Connolly, Danielle Duhame, Justin Dredge, Jonathan Kristan, Saira Mehmood, Kaveh Moghbeli, Galaxy Mudda, Ruksana Rangwala, Amy Rumack, Elliot Schottland, Brianne Sullivan, Mari Yasunaga, Elizabeth Young, Jonathan Young, Ava Satnick, a Stony Brook Masters in Public Health student, Michael Yen and a college student Sean Kim from Emory University. They saw over 300 patients each week evaluating rashes, dyspepsia, musculoskeletal complaints, and other primary care related problems. Children received vitamins, worm treatment and had arts and crafts while waiting. As part of the medical mission for the 4 weeks, a traveling eye clinic examined hundreds of patients in remote Andes mountain towns with the aid of an optometrist from Long Island. The medical students were trained in basic refraction techniques and the clinic was able to dispense hundreds of pairs of donated eyeglasses.

The recent addition to A Promise to Peru is the cataract surgical mission.  What prompted Debra Messina, MD to initiate a cataract surgical mission was because of the prior medical mission to the Sacred Valley in Peru in June 2011.  The portable medical clinic had traveled to many remote towns and villages, sometimes a two hour bus ride each way. It was then that she realized a large percentage of patients had advanced cataracts that no pair of glasses could help to rehabilitate their poor vision.  Upon her return she was able to establish contacts with the former president of the Pan American Ophthalmological Society, Dr Francesco Morales who is Peruvian and Dr Shanley contacted the past president of the Peruvian America Medical Society, Dr Victor Rozas.  Through them she was able to obtain the letter of invitation from the Peruvian Minster of Health and the necessary temporary medical licenses for the physicians, technicians, nurses and medical students.  Dr Messina discovered a nonprofit organization, Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) from Santa Barbara, California and worked with them to lend the necessary surgical equipment and donate enough medical and surgical supplies for 50 cataract surgeries.  Close to $100,000 worth of donations were raised in the form of medications, intraocular implants, disposable surgical instruments and other necessary supplies to create an efficient operating room that was able to deliver quality eye surgery.  Some of the patients traveled up to eleven hours from the Amazon Jungle, traveling four of those hours on foot to come to the newly formed surgical center. Some of the patients who could hardly make out hand motion a foot in front of them had post-op vision so improved that they could pass their drivers license test here in the United States.  During the week of July 2, 2012 the surgical clinic evaluated close to 500 patients for ophthalmic complaints and 36 surgical procedures were performed. The surgical team consisted of five physicians (Debra Messina, MD (‘88) with her two children and husband George Coritsidis, MD, Michael Sable, MD (‘92) with his son, Farshad Lalehzarian, MD(‘88) with his son, and Amanda Lehman, MD), seven Stony Brook medical students, one operating room technician, Lorena Chinchilla, one college student and three high school students and from Peru we had an ophthalmologist, an internist, two nurses and four translators.  The two ophthalmologists Dr Sable and Dr Lehman examined the patients with the assistance of the medical students and performed the eye surgeries.  Dr Messina continued her role of administrator and supervisor to ensure that the highest quality of care was administered to the patients.  An eye clinic and an operating room were created in the midst of a school, Fundacion Ninos Del Arco Iris in the small town of Urubamba. The founder and director of the Arco Iris Helena Van Engelen provided the surgical team with the necessary support staff, such as translators, provided advertisement on the radio and housed patients overnight if it was necessary. Their assistance was really invaluable to our success. The following week our optometrist Dr. Paul Galstian worked with the medical students examining the 1 week post op patients.  Proper long term follow up for these surgical patients was provided by a Peruvian ophthalmologist Frilo Silva MD in Cuzco.  Having the opportunity to initiate, organize and work with such a talented and dedicated group of medical professionals and students to offer quality eye care to a group of individuals who otherwise would not have had this opportunity was extremely rewarding for all of the members of the mission.

In summary, this year’s A Promise to Peru medical and cataract surgical missions was successful on many levels. On behalf of the co coordinators we would like to express our appreciation to the 12 medical doctors, the one physician’s assistant, the two registered nurses, the one optometrist, the one surgical technician, the 18 Stony Brook medical students, 1 Masters in Public Health student, 1 college student and the 8 family members.   Our goal is to continue to improve the sustainability of this mission with each year, as evidenced by the addition f the cataract mission. We are looking forward to planning next year’s missions already!

A special thanks to the designer of the A Promise to Peru website, Paula DiGioia who volunteers her time and skills to create and up keep the website. This website reflects our mission goals, creates awareness and helps us collect needed donations


A Note from Our Friends Fundacion Niños Del Arco Iris

To the Promise to Peru Team,

To give back Light in eyes and life is a beautiful precious gift  that you gave in Perú to so many.

The vision of our Foundation is creating a better future for all the deprived children youngsters and their families.

When a beautiful team like yours, highly professional and with a beautiful open and loving heart, knocks on our door, we are more than happy and grateful to assist you in any way possible. So we like to thank YOU for the great and very important loving work you did for all the Peruvian people who needed you.

For me it was a gift of life to get to know you all and it was equally felt by all of my people.

I wish you, your husband, Michael, Amanda, Farshad, your children and all other members of your team every happiness and fulfillment in life. Please, also know that in the future you are more than welcome, it will be such an honor for us to share with you this beautiful experience and your so important work again in the future.


Lots of love and blessings


Clinic photos from outside of Pisac Peru

A Promise To Peru

A Promise To Peru

A Promise To Peru

Post Op

A Promise To Peru

Evan Sable with the kids

A Promise To Peru

Dr Leeman assessing a patient 1 day after his cataract surgery

A Promise To Peru

Waiting in the train station while heading to Machu Picchu

A Promise To Peru

Machu picchu from above

A Promise To Peru

Arrived in Peru 2 days ago, Take a look!

Urubamba from a high

Advert for eye clinic

Kids on line for shoes at a clinic close to 12000 ft near Pisac, Peru

Urubamba sign

A promise to peru

By Paul Galstian

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A promise to peru

by Evy Miceli

By Evy Miceli

by Evy Miceli

by Evy Miceli

Photo Journal #6 by Mari Yasunaga and Brendan Carr
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Images by  Brendan Carr

By Brendan Carr

Images by Brendan Carr

By Brendan Carr

Our first photo journal from Tiffany Moadel. See what’s happening right now!

Driving to Urabamba, the town where we are staying

Driving to Urubamba, the town where we are staying.

Clinica de salud in Chinchero, where we volunteered

Clinica de salud in Chinchero, where we volunteered.

Children who came to our clinic in Chinchero for a doctors visit

Children who came to our clinic in Chinchero for a doctors visit.

Members fo Team 2012 walking to clinic in the town of Chinchero

Members of Team 2012 walking to clinic in the town of Chinchero.

Peruvian woman weaving alpaca wool

Peruvian woman weaving alpaca wool.

Alpaca wool and the natural sources used to color it

Alpaca wool and the natural sources used to color it.

Children from Cataraqui Clinic

Children from Cataraqui Clinic

People being triaged in our clinic in Ccototaqui

People being triaged in our clinic in Ccototaqui.

Children from Cataraqui Clinic

Children from Cataraqui Clinic

Patient intake line at out clinic in Urubamba

Patient intake line at out clinic in urubamba

Trying on Toms shoes

Trying on Toms shoes

Trying on Toms shoes

Receiving Toms shoes

Receiving Toms shoes

Landscape of Urubamba

Landscape of Urubamba