PERREAULT Magazine OCT | NOV 2015 - Page 83

Funded by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education, this UCLA working group, led by Jarrahy, a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in pediatric plastic surgery and craniofacial surgery, and Bonnie Taub, a medical anthropologist who teaches anthropology as well as public health, met recently for the first of a series of three symposia hosted by the institute to discuss how Westernized health care can intersect with traditional healing practices and beliefs.

Well-meaning American doctors who fly in from the United States to offer their services to the local population usually have limited appreciation for the culture their patients come from, explained Jarrahy, who has been going to Guatemala, Peru, Brazil and Mexico to do medical relief work for more than a decade.

Intent on learning more, Jarrahy joined Mayan Families three years ago, a nonprofit group that builds and installs concrete and ceramic stoves, paid for by donations, to poor households.

What he learned by working in the community changed his approach to practicing medicine in a foreign land. “Working with this group sometimes felt more rewarding than doing surgery,” said Jarrahy, who not only paid for the $150 stoves, but hauled concrete and helped build and install them.

Continued on page 84

The realization that

caring for indigenous

people in parts of the

world like Latin

America requires more

than just medical

knowledge and skills

has brought physicians

and public health

experts together

with anthropologists

and others from across

the campus to learn

from each other under

the auspices of

the UCLA Latin

American Institute.

Dr. Jarrahy and village children mug for the camera.