VINH, Vietnam (July 18, 2012) - Peruvian Navy Lieutenant Giannilu Sotomayor is aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) supporting Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12) as one of two Peruvians onboard during the mission.

Sotomayor, a doctor, is working with PP12’s medical department and is performing medical services on and off the ship during PP12’s mission ports of Vietnam and Cambodia.

“It is my role to participate in medical activities and to help the people here who really need us,” said Sotomayor.

“We have an important role to show the people of Vietnam that we are here to help them.”

Sotomayor said that she is very excited to be on this mission.

“This is the first time I have ever been on a ship that wasn’t from my country,” she said. “For me to be on this mission is like winning a prize.

“I am very happy to be here and to be able to participate in this Pacific Partnership.”

Sotomayor said that the biggest challenge for her during the mission has been the language barrier.

“It was hard at first when I got here, because I speak very little English,” she said. “So when I was working with Americans, Australians and New Zealanders they found new ways of communicating with me.

“We use pictures that we have drawn and phrases we have picked up from each other’s languages and it has made it very easy to understand what everyone is saying.”

Sotomayor said she recognized the advantages for her country to participate in Pacific Partnership missions.

“One of the ways we benefit from this mission is through the friendships and relationships we have created with the service members and medical personnel from other countries,” she said.

“PP12 also helps because it allows me to learn about illnesses that are different to those we see in Peru.

“This is a huge benefit because if a disaster should happen somewhere we need to know about all of the diseases that they have and how to treat them.

“I will be bringing back the knowledge I have learned here to my fellow doctors in Peru and will help to teach them to treat these illnesses that are affecting so many people.”

Sotomayor finished by emphasizing the importance for her country to continue to participate in future Pacific Partnership missions.

“I think my country can learn much from continuing to participate in the Pacific Partnership missions,” she said.

“It is a great experience to meet new people and to learn new things about medicines and treatments.

“But the true benefit from this mission is being able to help the people of Vietnam and the other countries we are visiting that truly need the care we can provide.”

PP12 medical services are free of charge and help change the lives of hundreds of people in both small and large ways through a multi-national, multi Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) team of doctors and nurses and other personnel who are exchanging cultural awareness, professional techniques, and learning to work together as a team.

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.