Four years ago, I returned to Ecuador for the first time in 45 years. I went with a medical brigade of Timmy Global Health.I have now gone on three brigades with Purdue University students. It seems that South Quito is always cold and wet. However, the most recent trip was particularly cold and wet. But the students were, as always, awesome. Below are some of my reflections from that work.
A week defined by rain, cold persistent rain.
Sheets of rain streaming down the window panes,.
Beating on the corrugated metal roof;
Dripping through openings in the roof onto the tile floor below.
Stray dogs trying to get through the door out of the rain.
Students shivering; blue lips and fingers.
Brush away the steam from the window panes and it is so green outside.
Dirty, grey sheep graze on the hillside, chickens scratch in the trash.
People walk down mountain paths, children running ahead, babies tied on backs.
Children playful in spite of the cold rain, getting their teeth swabbed with fluoride.
Wizened old people, hats pulled down over their heads, shawls and ponchos pulled tightly around their shoulders.
Reasons for visit: high blood pressure, diabetes, cough, aching knees, aching back.
Maria Elena, the Ecuadorian nurse, patiently explaining how to take their medications.
Work day finished, we pack up our supplies but no bus awaits us.
Can’t make it down the muddy road.
Load supplies onto the waiting truck and start out on foot.
Up the muddy road in the fine rain.
My wool poncho does a good job of keeping me dry.
I gasp for breaths in the thin air.
Off the road and onto a mountain path up the hill to the paved road where our bus waits.
A week defined by rain.