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Published: September 19th 2012
I started typing this post and was almsot finished with it when I looked up and it was GONE! It was deleted and I couldn't recover it 😞 I was pretty proud of it too. I'm going to try to recreate it but I know it won't be the same!
We started today with clinic again. We saw about 40 patients. After lunch we got ready to begin a four hour training with the health promoters. The health promoters are people in the community that have taken an interest in the health of those around them and want to do something to improve the general health of the population. They do not require any specific training and just learn what they can. They end up performing roles of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, therapists, case workers, and more. Anything they can learn in regards to the well-being of their community is helpful.They came from many communities surrouding Quito, some traveling hours on a public bus to train with us. We had stations for hypertension, taking manual blood pressure, diabetes, wound care and basic first aid, preventing falls and decubitous ulcers, and kitchen sanitation. Many of these topics have an obvious relationship
with the health of a community but kitchen sanitation may not be as clear. The lack of knowledge in these communities about the spread of disease and hopw to prevent illness is astounding and much of it begins in the kitchen. It starts with the basics: wash your hands with water and soap not just when cooking but when using the bathroom and when they are dirty etc. They other issue is that the water that comes out of their taps, wells, and the river, is NOT safe to drink. They must boil or purify the water before drinking or cooking it and many people do not understand the importance of this. We also talked about the importance of washing dishes and keeping towels and sponges clean. They often do not have refrigerators so storing food safely can be a problem. Trashcans are also not common in all home so we stressed the importance of keeping waste in a different place than where you keep food. Things that seem like common sense are not common knowledge everywhere. Again, it felt so good to be leaving knowledge with someone who has the ability to share it and help people with it;
so rewarding. I wish we had more time to spend with the health promoters. They were so eager to learn and it felt like we sqeezed a whole quarter of nursing school into 4 hours. I can only imagine what we could teach them with more time. As much as I wanted to be in the clinic at the time seeing patients, I now see how much more of an impact this training will have than clinics. The health promoters left training with knowledge to have their own clinics and spread the knowledge that we left. Awesome. They will be able to help so many more people than we could have imagined in our short time there. After training, we had a certificate ceremony where all the health promoters got a certificate of thier completion of training with us. They were so proud and it was awesome to see them so excited.
We headed back to the hostel for dinner. On the way home, Allie was talking about how much she missed Skyline; I swear she eats it almost every day. Ironically, we had some sort of Ecuadorean chili spaghetti for dinner! Seriously?! It was the closest you can
get to homemade Skyline.
After dinner, we did a tour of the historical distric of Quito with a company called Quito Eterno which Paco, one of our translators, works for. We started at a monestary that has been there since the early 1800s. It was beautiful inside and out. Our tour guide played the character of a young woman living in Quito in the 1800s and she was awesome. After the monestary, which by the way, is still used, we toured the streets of downtwon historical Quito and got to see some amazing churches and buildings. The architecture is so different and cool.
After our tour, Val and August surprised us by taking us to one of the highest mountains in downtown Quito. It was a breathtaking view and was a cool time to reflect how amazing our experience was.
Experiencing the culture of Ecuador truly helped us better care for patients in the little time we had with them. Cultural awareness and sensitivity is important for any healthcare professional to be truly successful. It is hard to connect with people without really understanding them. That is why I am so glad we got to experience so
much of the culture while we were there; I think it helped us better connect with the patients and health promoters to leave a more lasting impact.
While we are talking about connecting.. I'd like to point out how hard it is to connect with someone who speaks a different language. Translators are amazing but they become you in a way so it is sometimes hard to make that connection. This is definately a skill that I developed immensly during our stay.
Off to the jungle tomorrow!
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