Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

So I realized after talking to my good friend Julia and re-reading some of my postings that I may not be giving an accurate description of my experiences in Ecuador because I tend to write mostly when I have something to vent about. Well, my New Year's resolution is to start writing more frequently, and more positively! I'm starting today, by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!! People here have been celebrating all month, and the fiestas are really quite something. People dance here for hours without getting tired, and its intoxicating. I'm probably heading to a dance tomorrow night, but will be turning in early to make sure I'm ready for my trip to Guayaquil to pick up Andrew Friday morning! Will write more to update about our trip. We'll be in Guayaquil at first, then heading to my site, and then spending New Years on the beach. Yay! Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stuff´s Been Goin Down

Dryin out the phone after a night swim...woops

Mi Casa! Still in the building stage, but got approval to live there yesterday. So excited!

Grupo de Jovenes after a Campout on the ¨Silla¨

AguaFria - one of the communities I work in with Corazon Feliz

December 9, 2009

Remember that saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is;” or how about, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Well I was reminded of those sayings the hard way today. After putting my time, effort, and credibility into a project for the community, turns out the one man with the key to it all decided to walk away.

Supposedly, this man had tons of chickies to give away – 100 for each family that wanted them. The families only needed to pay for the transportation, $7.50. I talked to the President of my community right away to gauge her interest, and we proceeded to develop a proposal and present it to the community. I’ve been talking about this project with my family for a month. I presented the project last week to the entire community, and about 15 families wanted to participate. We are supposed to have a meeting tomorrow again, with a doctor who is coming to give a charla on how to care for the chicks. How embarrassing to have to tell everyone that as it turns out, there really are no free chickens. I put my credibility on the line, and I never should have taken the risk. From day 1 I knew something didn’t feel right. There were too many details missing, pieces of the story didn’t quite fit together, and the more questions I had about the whole thing, the fewer answers there were. But I thought, hey, I’m in Ecuador. An Ecuadorian wants to be helpful to his fellow Ecuadorians and I can take advantage of this to help out my community. No one else questioned his motives or whether or not he would come through, so I figured I could take it at face value. Well, WRONG.

My friend, Ingrid, and I went to this guy’s house tonight looking to talk with him about the whole thing as he hasn’t answered her calls for the past 2 weeks. For the first time in my life, I felt what its like to be locked out, to be standing on the outside of a gate with no means to enter. I felt what its like to be stuck on the street when a limo drives by with black tinted windows as opposed to the one in the limo. (ok, maybe thats a little much, but thats seriously how I felt!) This guy has a huge house surrounded by a locked gate. We had someone that works at the house ask inside for him, but the response we got was that he was sleeping. Sleeping!! At 7pm!!! What a liar!!!!!! He didn’t even have the balls to come out and talk with us, to tell us that something happened with the incubators or make up any other story. All he had to do was make up a story about why it wouldn’t work out, but he doesn’t even have the decency to talk to us. And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

My family wanted to invest in this project. They’ve been talking about the chicken coop they’re going to build, and were going to start to build it on Monday. Who knows what other families have already started to do. And this is a big deal. Its not like families have money lying around to throw here and there as the wind blows. Getting people interested in this project and ready to commit to the gallpones, food, everything was a big deal. Now its for naught.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Broken Health Care System? Try NO Health Care System

No appointments for the poor, only waiting in line at 6 in the morning when the doctors don’t arrive til 9, hoping you’ll pull a number that gets you seen before the doctors leave for lunch, if you could afford to pay for the transportation to get you to the health center in the first place. And that’s not just to see a primary care doctor – you have to go through the same thing when that doctor refers you to a specialist, again when you need tests done, to get the results of your tests, and for all follow-ups. These services are only offered in Portoviejo, which means more time to travel and more money. My neighbor has a tumor on her ovary, and she is going to have her entire uterus removed rather than getting a biopsy to see if its cancerous because she doesn’t want to have to deal with all the waiting. She’s already been dealing with the “system” for over a month, and still no biopsy or surgery. She finally got a date for surgery either the 15th or 17th, but had to go back to the doctor yesterday to confirm which day. She also needs to buy 2 bags of blood in case anything should go wrong during surgery.

The government “gives” supplies – birth control pills and condoms; nutrients for pregnant women, women breastfeeding, and kids under 5 years old; supplies for pap smears - to the health centers in the campo “when there are.” When there aren’t, those women on birth control pills having sex with men that refuse to wear condoms just have to pray they don’t get pregnant; babies eat rice and drink soda; and women never get pap smears. But for Christmas, the government has money to buy toys for kids, computers, mattresses, and other things for nurseries and schools. Does anyone else see a problem with this picture?

All kinds of laws exist that are great on paper, for example giving all pregnant women and their children under 5 years old free care and supplies, but aren’t put into practice because the country lacks resources. Well, the country itself doesn’t lack resources. As someone famous said, Ecuadorians are poor in a rich land. There are plenty of resources here. The government just has its hands in too much rather than letting privatization happen.

So there is no health care system here in my opinion – to me, the rules of care only prevent and discourage people from being seen by doctors. This, and tradition drive people to see the “shaman,” basically witch doctors in the campo that practice curing bad energy, therefore healing you of your ailment. Sometimes they are right, and do cure people; other times, in the case of my neighbor, they tell you that a baby is growing outside of your uterus.

When I think of health care in these terms, I get so overwhelmed and don’t know how I’ll ever make a difference here. What good is the education, if the system puts up barriers for people to be seen or if families don’t have the resources to buy the medicine they need? What I’m doing here is really all about behavior change – getting people to change their day-to-day lives to be healthier. Because when it comes down to it, the day-to-day activities are sometimes the only ones that we can control. I need to focus on what individuals can change in their daily routine to lead healthier lives, and leave everything else, because I can’t tackle the system. For me, this is so hard to do. In the states I worked to change the system, now I have to forget the system and change the people. I’m not sure which is harder.

P.S. I have new life in regards to the chicken project. It comes down to looking for other sources of funding, which exist and I will find. You can kick me down, but you can’t keep me down!