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Testimonial ++ Volunteer ++ Ecuador

Mission of Health for Ecuador: Chat with Daniel, a Medic Volunteer

Volunteering or interning in the field of medicine is always a special challenge. Not only a new culture and language awaits you, but also other prerequisites and tools in the health care facilities. Daniel will share his experience overcoming these challenges, as a volunteer in Ecuador.

1. Where do you do your voluntary work?

I am working in a hospital in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

2. Have you ever been to Ecuador before?

Ten years ago before I studied medicine I had already gone to Ecuador to do an internship here. I was working at a doctor’s then too, in the jungle. That was an adventure but it really did help my decision to become a medic myself. I experienced how the local doctor helped people with snake bites and other medical problems. The nurses and doctors included me in their work a lot and I was even allowed to draw off blood and assist in examinations.

3. Tell us about your tasks and responsibilities?

Actually, when I got here they showed me my room and introduced me a little to their equipment and procedures and then just started sending patients in. So I have been working here pretty independently since the beginning. But my colleagues were always there when I had questions on where what was etc.

4. Do you think that your experience working in Ecuador help you learn (a lot) ?

In fact, it does. I am learning a lot of the other medics here. The hospital is not as well equipped as the hospitals I have been working at in Australia, and the medics cannot run the tests they would in Australia. That is why they need to know a lot about symptoms and really focus on searching patients and estimating situations.

5. How about language barrier?

I had learned Spanish a few years ago before I traveled to South America for the first time. I really improved my Spanish during the first stay. This time I had little trouble. Sometimes it was hard to communicate with the patients because that includes a lot of technical terms I only know in English. I have started writing down the most important medical terms in Spanish, as well as the different body parts and organs. I usually carry that list with me now to work and try to learn the words by heart.

6. How do you like your accommodation?

When I first arrived Laura, who is organizing the voluntary work, fetched me from the airport and took me to a host family. They were really nice but I did not like that I did not have my own key and that I was the only volunteer staying there. I told Laura and she offered me to move to her place, where the other volunteers stayed as well. Ireally liked staying with her and her family. I got my own key and could move more independently. It is really great how Laura is always taking care of everybody, trying to make all volunteers feel the best possible during their time in Ecuador.

7. Is Quito qualified as your new favourite city?

Certainly not. I prefer hot weather, beaches and palm trees...Quito however is a very exciting city combining the best cultural activities, great architecture, parks and shopping Ecuador can offer. Quito is a crazy place, but definitely worth experiencing!

8. How did you get on with the culture differences?

Actually I have been traveling a lot so I was not shocked by the different culture, which is actually not that different. Just imagine a more extroverted, very warm‐hearted Australian in very tight clothes, singing in public... that might give you a picture of the people here. Of course there is a lot more to it but it is hard to catch the really fascinating culture of the amazing Ecuadorians I have met in words. You will really need to come here and experience it yourself!

9. Any out-of-town trips?

Yes, I did! Quito is in the mountains so I did some great hiking trips and visited the hot springs! There is nothing better than relaxing in a hot spring after a mountain tour. After I will finish the project I will to the seaside and the beaches to relax and surf a little. I remember they have got some great waves here!

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