I have now been in Cusco for two weeks, and during this time I have learned a lot about this community. Cusco used to be an agricultural economy, but has since transitioned into a large tourist economy. When googling pictures of Cusco, you see images of the beautiful city center, full of museums, shops, hotels, and restaurants aimed at tourists. What you do not see is the majority of the city, where the people live. This part of the city looks very different, but is full of life. A structural inequality that I have noticed in Cusco is this difference in urban planning. The majority of people live in apartment buildings with narrow streets in between. A lot of people also rely on public transportation to go about their lives. The COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, had a large impact on this community. Tourism shut down, stunting the economy, and it was difficult for working class people to isolate in order to protect themselves. Now that the pandemic has settled down, tourists are returning to the city and the community is beginning to once again flourish.
For my capstone, I am hoping to investigate access to healthcare in Cusco. I am volunteering at a shelter for young mothers, which is an especially disadvantaged group. Through observation, interviews, and research, I want to look at how this underprivileged group accesses healthcare and what barriers or facilitators they encounter. I hope to learn about their experiences with healthcare and their perceptions of the medical field. I also want to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected this access. This project intersects my interests in public health and global health, and I am very excited to continue working on this.