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Notes from Ecuador

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  • emma spenner
    HOLA UJENI! I SENT THIS NOTE TO SOME OF YOU ALREADY, BUT I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE IT WITH MY MALAWIAN PC FRIENDS. ENJOY THE SUMMER AND HAVE A MOWA OR TWO FOR
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2000
      HOLA UJENI! I SENT THIS NOTE TO SOME OF YOU ALREADY, BUT I THOUGHT I WOULD
      SHARE IT WITH MY MALAWIAN PC FRIENDS. ENJOY THE SUMMER AND HAVE A MOWA OR
      TWO FOR ME! - EMMA

      >From: "emma spenner" <espenner@...>
      >Subject: Notes from Ecuador
      >Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 09:23:31 PDT
      >
      >Hello all, hope the summer months are treating you well. I am writing a
      >group letter to share some of my experiences in Ecuador thus far. As most
      >of you know, I recd�a research fellowship to study pesticide use and the
      >effects on community health in rural Ecuador. I have been in Quito for
      >just over a week and am enjoying getting to know the country and the
      >people. My program is with University of Washington, Dept. of Epidemiology
      >and the grant is NIH (National Institute of Health). I arrived in Ecuador
      >last Thursday and will be in the program until the end of August. My
      >friend, Deana, from the Peace Corps will be joining me September 5 for a
      >hopeful trip to the Galapagos and some in-country travel. Before her
      >arrival I am planning to climb Cotopaxi - a beautiful volcano south of
      >Quito. Its claim to fame is that it is the highest active volcano in the
      >world. Don�t worry it is not smoking too much!
      >
      >Quito is a beautiful city, although the beauty is often hidden by the smog
      >and the rushing cars who have little concern for pedestrians. Besides
      >dodging automobiles in the capital, we have been able to head into the
      >county side for a few days and see other parts of Ecuador - which is truly
      >a geographers dream! On Wednesday the group (7 other fellows and 8
      >language students who are based in the same center, CIMAS, in Quito)
      >visited Tocachi, the small village where I will be conducting my research
      >on pesticide use. The village is located at approx. 10,800 feet and has
      >tremendous vistas and sweeping views. The poverty, of course, is
      >overwhelming and signs of malnutrition prevails despite the health programs
      >that have been place for over 20 years. CIMAS works quite intensively with
      >this village and they are used to seeing foreign visitors. The organic
      >garden that another student, Tambra White from Western Washington
      >Universtiy, worked with last quarter is still going strong and signs of
      >improvement are eminant. I was pleased to visit Tocachi, but it was
      >difficult to leave, because the serenity is so opposite of the chaos found
      >in Quito.
      >
      >Our trip also included a visit to Pre-Incan ruins, where signs of
      >spirituality and connection to the earth was ever-present. On the more
      >material side, we also went to Otavolo, a famous market where Ecuadorian
      >handicrafts are sold en masse. The market is especially known for their
      >beautiful wool sweaters and weavings.
      >
      >The main emphasis of our trip, however, was visiting different health
      >centers and community volunteer sites. The lack of supplies and funding
      >for salaries is shocking, but what is lacking in material goods, is
      >counterbalanced in dedication to the patients. It is truly amazing to see
      >groups of community mid-wives who dedicate so much of their energy and time
      >into helping indiginous women, with little or no compensation in pay. A
      >truly different value system.
      >
      >The most amazing part of our little sojourn, however, was in the Chota
      >district, where a large population of Afro-Ecuadorians live. We went to
      >village after village, which despite the spectacular mountainous backdrop,
      >could easily be mistaken for African villages. With women walking
      >seemingly effortlessly with large buckets of water on their heads, with mud
      >huts that are hauntingly similar to those I found in East Africa. But the
      >struggles and racism that the Afro-Ecuadorians are facing are very real.
      >The community group leader, Solomon, spoke of decade after decade of
      >struggles for equality and equal access. He also spoke about the ill
      >effects of pesticide use even in his community, where the high prices of
      >pesticides are seen both monatarily and in the health of his community.
      >Signs such as swollen glands, nausea, headaches, blood in their urine, etc.
      >are all common symptoms of farmers who apply the pesticides. He also
      >mentioned that improper labelling often leads to serious harm, when people
      >do not know exactly what they are putting on their plants, or how to do so.
      > In fact, I have just recently learned that Ecuador has one of the highest
      >rates of illegal pesticide importing. That is, pesticides that are banned
      >in USA or Europe, are sent to LDCs such as Ecuador under different
      >labelling. It is truly scary.
      >
      >Anyway, I will keep you posted on that development. My research will
      >include looking at flower plantations, and surveying Ecuadorian plantation
      >workers for potential symptoms of pesticide poisoning. I will be going
      >into the field next week - which will be greatly welcomed.
      >
      >So, please take care of yourselves, I hope that you are all happy and
      >healthy and enjoying yourselves. Do keep in touch. Much love, Emma
      >My short time
      >

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