The eleventh and twelfth houses to be built by Project Ecuador are now complete. I walked around this house, which we have built with 3 bedrooms for the family of 9, who until now have not had any house to call their own, and imagined them eating together in the spacious living area. It brought tears to my eyes to think that this humble family have been helped in this way. They now have solid walls, a safe house, hygienic bathroom and space to grow bananas and raise pigs. They have been given a helping hand, a step up in life, and the little children will be healthier and, we hope, happier.
In the health centre the majority of patients come for leg ulcer dressings. It is such a delight to be going away knowing that some of these patients have healed limbs. However, patients who have healed in the past are now returning, months or years later, with worse ulcers and injuries. Diabetes destroys their limbs, kidneys and eye sight, and so many do not take their medicine regularly, eat as they should or do exercise. One man came this week with a terrible foot infection. I told the family to go to the hospital, which they did, and he had 2 toes and part of his foot amputated. But the family then took him out of hospital because the surgeon told them he needed a foot amputation. They had him at home without adequate medication or treatment, a raw wound in his foot. They came back to me, hoping I could heal the foot, because we treated a hand wound successfully last year. I told them he needed to be in the hospital, but I don´t know if they will take that advice.
On the plus side, government health services have improved vastly in the past few years. This is why I see fewer and fewer general patients. They can obtain free treatment elsewhere now, and that is excellent. I think I will be of more use in the area of prevention in coming days.
Another task that has been completed this month is the giving out of sponsorship money to the sponsored children. They began classes again at the beginning of this month and need to buy their shoes, stationary, art materials and PE kits. It is wonderful to see their enthusiasm as they start back at school. It is inspiring to see them having the opportunity for an education, when so many of their parents did not have this chance in life.
Jenny, a sixteen year old who has started a new school for her final, 3 year bacherillato programme, made me smile. She bounded into my office to receive her sponsorship money with a huge grin on her face. "I love my new school," she exclaimed. "I can specialise in accounting now, and I just love numbers!" Jenny is from a very poor family and would not be able to study without the help of a sponsor. We wish her all the best in her studies this year, and hope she will go on to achieve great things.
Juan and Mishel graduated from secondary school last month. Both have single mums who have raised them on a pittance. Both have studied hard and resisted the temptation to give up. So many boys go and work in the fields instead of sticking at their studies, and so many girls fall pregnant and drop out. Juan and Mishel have achieved their dream of a full school education, and hope to now find work and save up to attend University. We wish them all the best for the future.
And finally, to show us that it can be done, Carla, Mishel´s big sister, who graduated from Secondary School a few years ago, also with the help of Project Ecuador, is starting her final year of University. This year she has won a scholarship to help pay her fees. She also works in an ice cream shop. It is simply wonderful to see her going on to achieve her dreams. Well done Carla!