What immediately struck me about life in Duran is that while most people are living in poverty, there is an overwhelming sense of happiness and community. To me, that seems to be a large difference between here and home; it´s rare to find any American family that isn´t wanting more than they have. Here, it seems most families are grateful for what they have and, importantly, for each other. The children may not have a huge number of toys or the newest gadgets, but they do have a playground right across the street that they are happy to use at all hours of the day. Likewise, the adults may not have everything they desire, but they have laughter and singing and a homemade hammock to pass the time. There are various ways that they try to make some extra money, but they never seem unhappy or resentful about having to stop what they are doing to sell a soda or beer. It´s a quality that is lacking in the United States, where even the newest technology isn´t enough and people would rather spend time on the computer than talking about their day. When I discussed this feeling with a friend of mine, he said something along the lines of, ¨Ignorance is bliss.¨ But how ignorant can those in Duran be, with the mansions of Guayaquil just a short bus ride away? They also know of all the vacation spots we are talking about visiting, like Montañitas and Baños. In the case of Duran, I´d say it´s more ¨Appreciation is bliss,¨ and the fact that some things are missing doesn´t detract from what they do have.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Another observation I have made is that shirts with logos and things written in English are very popular here. A few times I have asked my patients if they knew what their shirt sayings meant and they had no idea. Many times they don´t make sense, but I would translate for them as best I could. It amazes me that people would wear something on their shirts, advertising on their own body, and not even understand what it means. If it´s in English though, it´s considered cool.
I grew up in a family that always supported me in whatever I wanted to do. When I was little I was told that if I worked hard enough, I could do whatever I wanted to do. I understand now though, that some of what I always thought was hard work, was actually a bit of privilege. I am privileged because I live in the United States, I am white, I am an only child, and I have a very supportive family. I´m starting to wonder how much this privilege contributed to my success. The idea of being privileged because of being an American is new to me because of this Ecuadorian obsession and I wonder how much the privilege is because of the idealization.
We worked with Dr. Aquirre in a small clinic in derechos de los pobres. I really enjoyed working with Dr. Aquirre. He was incredibly genuine, empathetic, and warm to the parents.
He saw several patients, mostly women and young children. He seemed to recognized all his patients and they all seemed to like him. In contrast to some of the other doctors we have worked with, he didn’t have an air of condecention when speaking with the patients. He met his patients at their level; taking the time to allow them to express all their concerns without dimissing any of them. Everything was explained clearly and all questions were answered. He took the time to do a thorough physical.
I thought that he really cared for his patients’ health and well being. I also thought that he cared for us by the way he took the time to explain the history and physical for us and detail what was important and why.
Julio was my host dad. Although I didn’t actually spend a lot of time with him because of his work, I include him in my reflection because I learned some very important things from observing him. During one of our very first conversations, he told me that although the families of the neighborhood were poor in money they were rich in heart and soul. Derecho de los Pobres really does demonstrate what he said. It just reinforced how true it is in the USA that so many of the richest people are the unhappiest. I also learned from him that you should never take for granted the family that you have.