It is truly amazing to be submerged in an area with no plumbing or electricity, to not have TVs, hot showers, blenders, skillets, toasters, washing machine, dryer, etc., etc.  Originally, I thought that the people there must be so depressed to have so little, but that is what was so amazing…  For the most part, everyone was content with their living situation.  People still smiled and made the best of what they had.  Luckily food was available.  They at least have access to gardens and game that people are not starving.  There were those who traveled into the city on occasion and knew what life could be like with more modern conveniences, but at the same time they continued to live as they have, living out their cultural beliefs/rituals and they are content.  I was overjoyed that they were willing to trust us and treat themselves with the medications we prescribed/provided.  I was afraid it would be so foreign to them, that they would reject us and we wouldn’t be able to help.  However, just giving an ibuprofen tablet to someone whose knees have ached for years due to the hard work that they constantly do, they were amazed and thought it was a miracle that we could take away some of their pain.

Nina Beach, R.N., Providence Portland Medical Center
Sponsored by: WSU School of Nursing
March 9-20, 2006, Ecuador

EcuadorI found that I have the concern and discipline to work 16 hour days in less than desirable conditions and that my dedication kept me pleasant and on task.  I felt like a part of the village, both in the jungle and in Shell, as the people there were incredibly open and friendly to us.  I expected to come back feeling fulfilled and I did.  However, my fulfillment was found by watching and being part of a culture that was directly sustainable with the earth, and, in addition, by being able to provide them with things that might make their day-to-day living just a little easier. The health care expectations in Ecuador are so different that the US.  There seems to be a more reasonable evaluation of living life and the toll that may take on the body.  I was also impressed by how clean everyone was, especially in Shell, when they came to visit us. They had a great deal of respect for the work we did and showed that in their demeanor.   My key message is that smiling and being kind are a universal language.

Cheryl Waitkevich, ARNP, Providence St. Peter Hospital
Sponsored by: WSU School of Nursing
March 9-21,2006, Ecuador