After experiencing a whirlwind of emotions on my 5.5 hour flight to Quito, Ecuador, I was greeted by two lively Timmy girls and a jar of olives. Despite my nervousness and overwhelming feelings of traveling internationally for my first time, I felt welcomed and quickly amused by the different city (i.e. the crazy taxi rides when the driver honks 3 times before flying through any intersection). Even though I had the feelings similar to those of a little school girl awaiting her first day of school, I was somehow able to fall asleep. In the morning, I decided to use a map the size of a business card to meet one of the Timmy girls at a well known cafe in the neighborhood of “La Mariscal.” The area was a new site for me, and I was drawn to the various fruits and juices being sold on the streets. The signs for “almuerzos” (lunch) for a mere $2.00 were also very appealing to me. The colorful and busy area seemed to distract me a bit, as I realized I had gotten lost along the way to the cafe. This was a great opportunity to speak to the people and see the various buildings and vendors. After sight seeing and speaking to the people, it turns out I was only a block away!
The next adventure was to ride the crowded “Trolebus” to South Quito in order to visit Hospital Tierra Nueva. The hospital was started by a priest, Padre Carollo, and finished by multiple friends and supporters. It is one of the largest hospitals in Quito, and is still opening new units one by one. We traveled to the hospital to meet two patients, who had traveled five hours to receive proper medical care at the hospital. We found the patients sleeping in the car because they had to make the trek at 3 a.m. After greeting them, we had lunch together in the hospital kitchen. During my first Ecuadorian lunch (soup, rice, salad, meat, and jello), I learned of the patients’ health conditions, family members, and occupations. I was genuinely pleased with how open and patient the people were when speaking to me about their lives. It was also satisfying to hear that the patients were committed to traveling often in order to be healthy.
I witnessed a great relationship between the Timmy coordinators and the patients. The Timmy workers provided transportation and lunch, and scheduled important referrals/appointments for the patients. I’ve quickly learned that healthcare here is not about the many details, but it is about creating true, lasting relationships with the people. By doing so, the patients are more willing to follow up with appointments and the workers are more than happy to help. I look forward to building new relationships with patients on the upcoming brigades!