Chris Howard, one of our counselors at The Health Center at Lincoln was recently in Ecuador teaching English to children. While abroad, Chris sent us a letter detailing some of his experiences…

Chris Howard – “This week was an interesting change of pace as I joined the Tandana health care team consisting of about 8 providers from the states including doctor, dentist, a couple of physicians assistants, a pharmacist and others. We went to 5 rural villages in the surrounding area including the one I live in. We were transported in a small bus in which we loaded bins of supplies each morning at the hotel in Otavalo, where the providers were staying. Of course, this meant that I would get up at 5 am each morning to take the crowed bus down the bumpy dirt road to meet the others. The bus ride is not too bad as long as the music is lively and it does not get so crowded that I am concerned that the young child in front of me is getting crushed.

We set up at the school of whichever small village we have made arrangements with, usually the school is the central gathering place. We were then assigned different areas to set up our particular service. For example, one of the villages was named Minas Chupa, a Kechewa name. To reach this, the most remotest of the villages, we traveled by truck for an hour and a half, higher and higher and deeper and deeper into stunningly beautiful mountain scenery on a two track dirt road until until the track wound down and down to a school in a clearing perched on a pinnacle on top a mountain ridge. The mountainside dropped off forever on either side of the school. We set up our service positions around the school grounds. The children were of course, lively and very curious. Many adults also gathered, some to watch, some for services. All of the women were dressed in the beautiful traditional clothing. They must have walked from houses scattered up and down the mountainsides. I was given the role of vision screener for the whole week. After I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it. I screened folks from 3 to 85. If they needed close up reading glasses, I had a trunk of donated glasses of different strengths to have them try. It was very moving and uplifting to see the huge smile on their faces when they could suddenly see the print clearly on the page:) Those who needed distance glasses were given a referral to an eye clinic in Otavalo,the closest city. I don´t know how many will actually make there…esp. since some of the referrals were given to children with definite need but their parents were not there to talk to. At the end of the day the local people had cooked a meal of potato soup with chicken for all of us. It was a great sharing experience.

On Friday, the last day of the health care week, we all jumped into the bus and headed into the big city of Quito, 2 hours away, to attend a world cup qualifying soccer game being played between Ecuador and Uraguay. Many of us were wearing our bright yellow Ecuadorian soccer jerseys. We parked a few blocks from the stadium and joined the throngs in jamming inside. The game was already started as we took our seats among all the exuberant Ecuadorians. It didn´t take long before the huge group energy became contagious. Soon we were all screaming “ECUADOR! ECUADOR!” and “SI SE PUEDE!” (YES WE CAN!) with the rest of the crowd. When Ecuador scored what turned out to be the only and winning goal, we all went bananas! After the game was over there was another half hour of the team circling the track before the cheering crowd. Then a HUGE nylon flag of Ecuador was passed up the stands we were sitting on to cover that whole part of the stadium…then it was quickly whisked down hand over hand. Out side the stadium the crowd streamed into the streets yelling and honking horns. This is how a country celebrates it´s national pride when they are not looking for wars to fight. After a quick dinner at a local restaurant we headed back to Otavalo.

So now I will return to my normal schedule of teaching English and working at the tree nursery up in the mountainous village of Achupallas for another couple of weeks before I do some traveling around the country prior to heading back to W.W. I hope you all are enjoying the changing of the seasons and a little cooler weather. I love getting your e-mails so don´t be shy…let me know whats going on up there in the U.S. (no media news please).

Hasta luego with mucho Amor,

Senor Cristobal”

A Health Center Counselor Impacts Lives Locally and Abroad