05/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Patty Webster Used To Be A Tour Guide; Now She's A Hero In Peru

In the 1990s, Patty Webster was a tour guide in the Peruvian Amazon. Like many other adventurers, however, she found that some of the most interesting stories existed not in the wildlife of the jungle, but in the people who lived there.

She started out by sharing her own equipment and medical supplies, but as others heard about her generosity and began to line up outside her camp, she realized the job was bigger than just her.

Now, Webster is a CNN Hero, as the president of Amazon Promise, a nonprofit organization that delivers medical care to remote populations in Peru.


Nearly half of the area's population lives in poverty, and one-third of residents lack access to basic medical care, according to Peru's National Institute for Statistics and Information Technology. Some might go their entire lives without seeing a doctor.

That's what Webster is working to change. She organizes several expeditions to these underserved areas every year. Each trip is staffed by adventure-seeking medical volunteers from the West -- often from U.S. medical schools -- and Peruvian health professionals. A traditional shaman, or healer, frequently accompanies them.


Webster is featured as part of CNN's "Heroes" series. A group of CNN Heroes are selected each year to be honored in an annual ceremony in November, with one CNN Hero chosen to receive a large sum of money to continue his or her work.