When I first heard about Malinga Pamba, I knew that it was the experience for which I was looking. It would be an opportunity to work with people in another culture, an opportunity to practice my Spanish and to use my skills as a literacy specialist. The experience that I encountered was so much more then I could ever imagine. I have traveled to many places in my life, but never have experienced the magic that I felt high in the Andes in the little pueblo of Malinga Pamba.
I was not exactly sure what my particular mission was going to be. I knew there was a vision clinic happening while I was there and I was asked to help out as a translator. My Spanish is so, so, and I felt a little nervous about that particular job. I just decided I would help out where I could and make a point of observing their classes in school. I had no idea how their schools operated or what their needs were-other than a list of materials sent to me AND I believed I was in no position to impose my teaching expertise without first observing, learning, and asking - another words , a needs assessment.
Driving to Milinga Pamba from Latacunga, I took in the beautiful scenery and vistas. We drove up,up,up joining onto a little dirt road high in the steep, terraced green, lush mountains where you could see women herding their sheep and farmers cultivating their crops. Driving into the pueblo, we were greeted by all ages and everyone shook my hand saying,Oma puche. Quechua for greetings.
Because the volunteer quarters were being used by the doctors coming the next day, one family gave up their home for me and 4 others who came to work for the clinic. I had my own room with a bathroom to share with my companions (a flush toilet and a warm shower). Quite a luxury so far away. Our meals were delicious and plentiful. We always had the most wonderful soups everyday along with a plate of rice, potatoes and a small piece of meat.
The first day I had the opportunity to walk with the young daycare children to their their homes. The teachers always walk them home. This can be up to a mile or more and not one child complained or cried to be picked up. They just all hold hands and walk home with the sheep following behind. The next day, we prepared the community center for the vision clinic by moving furniture and darkening the windows with black plastic bags. When finished, we were able to get one of the guys from the village to drive us over to the volcano so that we could climb it. It was very comparable to climbing a mountain in Colorado. Near the top, we could see several pueblos each with different colored roofs indicating which pueblo it was. Malingua Pamba was red. We could also see a festival going on at a different pueblo.
The doctors arrived in the evening tired and a little intense to prepare for the clinic beginning at 8:00 in the morning. They had so much stuff including glasses with every prescription imaginable and sunglasses for everyone. The evening concluded with a presentation from the mayor and women blessing us by throwing rose petals on everyone.
Truly, through next 3 days were the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. The indigenous people came from everywhere. They had been given a ticket as to what day and time they were to arrive. There was an assembly line beginning with intake of information, acuity texting done by covering each eye and telling which shape was on the paper. Next the doctors would examine them and give glasses if needed or visit the ophthalmologist if necessary. There were other translators as well from the peace corps and medical students from Quito to assist. My main job was to help with acuity testing and information intake. I found that I could speak well enough or get help when I needed it. Mostly, the people were so glad that one tried their best to communicate. They didn't care if my grammar was correct. The clinic saw more than 900 people in 3 days. Most complained that their eyes hurt because of the strong sun and dust and that their eyes had a lot of tears. Eye drops were handed out to all as well as sunglasses. Many had new glasses. My favorite ending to the whole thing was: the clinic was closing and there was one 10 year old boy left to test. He was shaking he was so scared. He really could not see well at all. When they put on the new glasses, tears came down his face and he began to cry because he could see for the first time.
On the last day, I decided to observe the classes. They were combination classes - first/second third/ fourth etc. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of instruction. Somewhat different than in the U.S. I would say that they are a year behind our grade levels. Their first grade was like our kindergarten and on up. They do need materials. I took two stationary pencil sharpeners, which they had never seen., and many pencils and Spanish books for their libraries. I also took some teaching manuals in Spanish for reading. They have a computer lab and do have internet in the lab. When I asked them what they needed, they responded, maps, white board markers, erasers for the white boards. They need alphabet charts that you put in front of the room. They need booksets in Spanish for each grade level. I also took some big books in Spanish for content area subjects.
I would love to return to Malinga Pamba one day. I have never felt such kindness and generosity from such humble people. I was the one who truly benefitted by learning how to decompress and be with people who really know how to work and be together.
Otra foto de este excelente grupo de voluntarios haciendo la diferencia en las comunidades del Ecuador.
VOSH & CELM Volunteers
Foto del grupo que viajo a Malingua Pamba en Abril del 2015, para la clinica de vision.
Otra fotos de Voluntarios de VOSH
Otra mas para el recuerdo!
VOSH Colorado help more than 900 people in Malingua Pamba Ecuador in April's trip.
Coordinando los exámenes para la vista.
Un perro observando la campaña de vision en Malingua Pamba.
Voluntarios de VOSH
Organizando e interactuando con las personas en la jordana de vision
Saludo de mano
Una de las costumbres de las personas en esta esta region es la de saludar de mano, por lo general son personas muy amigables y abiertas a los visitantes.
Checando los ojos
Voluntaria de VOSH haciendo un chequeo de ojos a un niño mientras su mamá lo observa.
Checando los ojos
Una persona mayor es atendida y revisada por unos de los doctores de VOSH.
Gente de Malingua
En esta jornada de visión, se atendieron a mas de 900 personas de Malingua Pamba y sus alrededores.
Gente de otras comunidades llegando a Malingua para la clínica de visión
Examinación de ojo
Doctora de VOSH examinando los ojos de una persona mayor en la jornada medica.
Doctoras de VOSH con una persona de la comunidad usando sus lentes para sol.
Gente de otras comunidades
Gente de otras comunidades cercanas atendieron esta clínica de visión, en tres las comunidades mas conocidas está: Pucará, Guantugloma, Cuadra Pamba, Quinta Tunguiche, El Salado, & Isinliví.
Voluntarios de VOSH & CELM
Ayudando a llenar formatos
Personas de la comunidad esperado ser atendidas en la jornada de visión.
Un plato tradicional, meyoco, abas, elotes.
Doctora de VOSH
Haciendo un chequeo a una persona mayor.
Doctor de VOSH
Haciendo un chequeo a una persona de la comunidad.
VOSH con un niño de la comunidad
Una Doctora de VOSH junto a unos de los niños de la comunidad.
Persona de la comunidad
Con sus lentes nuevos para el sol y Doctora de VOSH
Doctor de VOSH
Doctor de VOSH con una gran sonrisa para la foto!
Una vista de Malingua Pamba en los Andes Ecuatorianos.
Otra vista mas de las montañas en los Andes Ecuatorianos.
Voluntarios d VOSH en una foto grupal.
Una de las casas en la comunidad.
Un excelente equipo de trabajo, gracias por todo su esfuerzo, tiempo y trabajo para lograr que todas estas personas fueran atendidas en la clínica de vision.
Una persona de la comunidad trae sus nuevos lentes.
Una persona mayor de la comunidad saludando a los medicos de VOSH.
Mujer de la Comunidad
Una mujer de la comunidad trajo unos huevos a unos de los Doctores de VOSH en agradecimiento.
Personas de la comunidad
Participando en la clinica de vision
Persona de la comunidad
Atendida por una de las Doctoras de VOSH
Doctores de VOSH
Unos de los Voluntarios de VOSH Colorado
Construcción en una de las comunidades
Personas de la comunidad
Transportando papas de los campos
Atardecer en los Andes
Laguna de Quilotoa, uno de los volcanes cercanos a Malingua Pamba.
Gente de la comunidad
Gente de la comunidad afuera del edificio grande en Malingua Pamba
Niña & Bebé
Niños en Malingua Pamba
Charlie & Hugo
Nuestro voluntario estrella Charlie apodado por la comunidad de Malingua Pamba como ¨Mono Loco¨, en su segunda visita a la comunidad.
Preparando los alimentos para los voluntarios.
Organizando lentes para la clinica de visión.
Posando para el lente, Doctora de VOSH Colorado.
Este niño estaba contento por tener sus lentes y poder ver mejor, gracias a VOSH y todos los voluntarios que hicieron esto posible.