I'm Krysta Peterson, the honored guest blogger for this week. Woohoo! To keep Chet's tradition going, go ahead and put on "Something like That" by Tim McGraw in the background.
To give a brief overview of who I am and why I'm here, I graduated from the University of Texas, Austin in May of 2008 with a BS in Kinesiology and worked at a hospital in August the following year. The real word of 8+ hour work days just wasn't where I pictured myself being after I graduated. I studied abroad in Chile in 2007 and absolutely fell in love with the culture and warmth of South America. Since then I'd been longing to return and when the opportunity to apply for Manna fell into my lap, I know it was something I couldn't pass up. So here I am writing the guest blog for MPI Ecuador on this brisk Ecuadorian Wednesday night! I am one of five lovely ladies working in health this year and have been selected to be the point person for a program with a local school/clinic named Aliñambi. I am also helping Shawn in working with the Ministry of Health, as well working with Chet and Haley on adult English classes. You'll just have to wait until my PD interview to find out the juicy stuff. ;)
Krysta being nutritious and delicious in front of her Charla poster
As Sarah mentioned earlier this week, this past weekend we ran a clinic at Aliñambi for the communities we work with. It was preceded by hours of meetings, preparation and shot nerves; Ecuador's planning style isn’t exactly what we’re used to in the US. But it all paid off and, in my opinion, the clinic went almost flawlessly. We had 3 doctors, a pharmacy that charged $1 per medication, tables full of Ecuador-specific nutrition and Manna information, and an awesome interactive dental talk where we taught kids how to properly brush and floss. We had 133 patients in total, and though we had hoped for more, we were grateful for those who came and happy to be able to aid as much of the community as we did.
The future champion flosser of Ecuador
Jens discovering the true affect of Amor cookies on children's teeth
I have participated in free clinics in Mexico in college but actually being a point person on this clinic and having the nerves about whether or not everything we had planned would turn out right made this clinic affect me differently. Living within communities here in Ecuador and seeing how people respond to the ‘gringos’ and my blonde hair everyday made me view my experience with Manna and my year down here differently. I was completely taken aback watching Ecuadorians walk into this gringo-licious clinic with immediate confidence in us. I couldn’t fathom that simply being American gave us the right to instantaneously earn the trust of Ecuadorians to the extent that they were willing to put their trust and lives in our hands. I am elated that we can come down here and help these people without question but at the same time it frustrates me to know that so few Americans realize the power we hold to make a difference.
I am so thankful for Manna for giving me the chance to be able to provide the type of aid that I could only dream of providing in the US after becoming a Physician Assistant. The clinic was a perfect opportunity for me to dive into international healthcare and jump start my programmatic goals for the year.
Chet and Jackie doling out prescriptions at the farmacia
Haley and Krysta sport the shirts that Krysta designed: Go Manna!
Ps. If anyone can name the reference for this blog's title in the comments section, Krysta will award you with una sopresa!