Monday, June 30, 2008
Jess and I brought Sani's promedor de salud (Blanca) medical supplies which we got donated by Wound Technology Networks (based in Hollywood, FL, USA) and backpacks for easy portablity (remember! Sani is in the Amazon and a lot of healthcare is done via backpack medicine - traveling quite large distances through the jungle or via canoe to the patient). We were pleased to discover that the promedor already knew how to use most of the supplies (all wound care, mostly first aid, supplies), but saddened to discover that her volunteer work was strained by lack of additional manpower, money, supplies, and knowledge. She explained that although Sandi Yura gave some courses, they were not enough for what the community needed, and pregnancy/maternal care and good sexual education/puberty education for children were greatly needed. We decided to talk to Sandi Yura directly about why they did not offer these courses and what we could potentially do to help, but when we had the chance to speak to the Spanish president, we found contradicting information. We were told that classes on maternal care, pregnancy, youth education on washing hands, sexual education, and teaching children on puberty were already in practice and that Blanca had already taken the courses and should be teaching them. She became very defensive and said that Sandi Yura was doing all they could and we needed to work with them. We asked what we could do and how we could help, but instead of giving us an answer, she replied that whatever programs we wanted to do, we needed to run by them first. We thought that working with an already established organization would be a good plan, so we agreed to contact one of the people she suggested (she did not want to talk to us about it herself). As soon as we ended our conversation with her and walked out of the building, however, a large group of the Sani community and leaders of other nearby Quichua communities (they had just had a meeting), approached us and had our guide translate the following. They explained that Sandi Yura did NOT in fact provide those courses and had a very very large fund which they received to help the Quichua but that they did not, in reality, see. Asking us for our help, and telling us they needed the projects we had spoken to them about directly, they expressed their concern about Sandi Yura and how they did not see any of the money.
Now from the above description, it seems pretty obvious that Sandi Yura was a corrupt organization. However, it is not that simple. Sandi Yura is a nonprofit group that provides all their services for free. A lot of their work is dependent on the promedores doing their jobs as well. As they train select individuals from the communities who are then responsible for teaching the rest of the community, a hiccup can occur anywhere along the way. In addition, a lot of the teaching the promedores do occur at town meetings, which Sandi Yura's president explained were often cut short due to impatience and not wanting to listen. As a result, it is possible that Sandi Yura is doing their job, but there is a problem in their delivery. In this situation when 2+2 does not equal 4, what are we to do? Our next step is to ask Sandi Yura for their budget, annual report, and exact programs they offer. Hopefully they will also have statistics on the number of promedores they train on each topic as well so that we can deduce where the failure of the program is occurring.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Before I go further, I want to mention that I am not presenting the full picture. There is a lot I do not know about the economic status of Quito and Ecuador as a whole. I only know the little I have studied and the even less that I have seen. There is also the large issue of things are not as they appear. In addition, I have been exploring the tourist traps (such as El Museo Casa de Sucre in the photo to the right - Antonio Jose of Sucre's house turned museum - a Venezuelan general that was key in Ecuador's independence) which of course will be more developed, safer, and cleaner than other areas (it is highly recommended that I not go out after nightfall and avoid many places due to the increase in danger - though both Jess and I have felt fairly safe).
Going back to development, it was really the children on the streets alone or in groups selling candy or polishing shoes instead of being in school or being at home with their families that got to me. Jess and I were walking through a park and heard a chorus singing. We followed our ears to a Christian young adult chorus wearing bright orange shirts, singing songs of worship in Spanish. Their bright shirts attracted our attention and we were listening to the music when we noticed a group of small Ecuadorian children sitting politely on the curb looking up at the primarily caucasian students singing praises of worship. As the choir looked out at the audience in front of them and towards the heavens, they did not seem to notice these children looking up towards them. As I took photographs of the children, their attention turned towards me and they headed over with their small toolboxes of shoe polishing materials. First, they asked for $1 for me taking a photograph of them. Then they tried to polish my sneakers. I gave them each a quarter for letting me take pictures of them and chatted with them a bit about the chorus. They told me the chorus was from America and they were singing about God. They loved the songs and were listening to them. The next day (today), I went to Old Quito and ran into many more children polishing shoes and selling candy. One little girl that I was not able to get a picture of to my regret (I am still getting reacclimated to feeling comfortable taking pictures of strangers in disadvantaged states and asking them questions about their lives - it is necessary for journalism and great for insight and development, but some associate it rude probing and that is a whole different topic altogether), tried to sell me candy. She said it was $1 (though I realized later that she must have only known how to say $1 in English), and the candy was well packaged, so I decided to give it a try. I gave her a $1 coin (the $1 gold coins are extremely popular), and she started giving me handfuls of the candy. I was surprised at how much I was getting and told her I did not need as much. She continued to give it to me, so I just asked what her favorite was and asked for that and then gave her some of it in return. Families must often send out their kids because they know how hard it is for people, especially foreigners that are not used to seeing children work on the streets, to turn down children. However, by buying things from these kids, am I only encouraging for them to continue working versus going to school? Or if I were not to contribute, would they starve? When you don't know, how can you make the best decision?
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
10:00pmFlight 931, American Airlines, Seat 11A
Travel Companion, Jess Lee, Seat 11B
Time of departure from
Missed connecting flight to
Standby flight delayed
Missed connecting flight to
Given free voucher to stay at Dadeland Courtyard Hotel 30 minutes south of MIA + $10 dinner, $10 lunch, $5 breakfast vouchers
Flying has never scared me because I started when I was so little. It was always very natural and I didn’t think anything of it. Choosing a seat is an interesting process. Noone usually wants to sit in the middle because you have nothing to rest your head against as you do on the window seat nor do you have extra leg room or ease of not having to bother other people to go to the bathroom as you do in the aisle seat. The window seat has another benefit of a great view, but then you have to bother two people to do your business. Growing up, I always wanted the window seat. I slept pretty much the whole flight, even when it was a long one to
On this trip, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting at the window seat from NYC to
Whenever I try to photograph the moon, it comes out extremely small, like a dot in the sky. I wonder about the moon. It lights up because of the reflection of the sunlight not because the moon itself shines… but if the sun is hitting the moon, wouldn’t the entire sky light up? For example, if you took a flashlight and shined it on a ball in a dark room, not only would the ball light up, but so too would the path of the light itself… I probably learned about this at one point… but I completely forget.
Behind us in line getting on the plane, Jess and I saw a few people wearing collared shirts that said something about global health. I asked what they were, and apparently they are part of a mission trip with about 25 doctors, dentists, and pharmacists to