Yesterday, I went with Claudia, the Colombian who works at the special needs school. On Thursdays Claudia makes house calls. That day we visited a young mother with a very sick two year old girl, Jennifer. Jennifer was fine for the first two years of her life and then she caught meningitis. From what I understood when her mother took Jennifer to the doctor with a fever, the doctor did not correctly diagnose the problem. The doctor did not put Jennifer on antibiotics or anything to prevent the virus from causing more problems. Then Jennifer started to have convulsions. Judging by the loss of muscle and baby fat, I think Jennifer got meningitis awhile ago, survived the sickness, but it really took a told on her health. She is blind, deaf, and her legs have lost all muscle so she cannot walk. She can´t even eat. Claudia gave her food through a tube.
On Monday, we are taking Jennifer to Guayaquil for intense treatment. I believe she will be in the hospital for at least 2 months. Claudia needed a photo of Jennifer for some reason. Maybe the municipal, which I believe is paying for Jennifer's treatments, wants a photo for an article. Maybe the hospital needs a photo. The mother wouldn´t let Claudia take a picture of Jennifer. I don´t think she wanted a picture of her while she was so sick. Anyhow, the mother found an older picture of the girl. In the older picture Jennifer is sitting upright, with a healthy amount of baby fat on her arms and legs. It was heartbreaking to look at the picture and then look at the girl in the bed. It was hard to imagine that they are the same child.
Claudia seems hopeful that we will be able to help this girl. I hope she is right, but I doubt she will ever be as healthy as the girl in that picture. I really like Claudia. She seems on top of things, maybe its the name. I think her work is really important so I hope to work more with her. There is definitely a need. I just need to figure out where I can contribute.
Sept 22 2009
Friday night I went to the election on the raina in Cumanda, my sister city. I was really tired Friday afternoon and was not very excited when Jorge, my host brother and one of the people I work with called me at 10:00 at night to come downstairs to go to the reina elections. Disgruntled I went downstairs and about an hour later we left for the raina competition. When we got there a group of women were preforming. They were pretty good and the music was very fast paced so that woke me up a bit.
At about midnight, the reina competition started. It began with the candidates walking around in there bathing suits and introducing themselves. After that a man came out and sang traditional Ecuadorian songs. Then the candidates came back out in their evening gowns and answered a question. It was two or so in the morning when the questions were asked. Many of the men in the audience would drunk and loud. I felt pretty bad for the candidates.
At three in the morning they announced the winner. A girl named Kellie or the one dressed in the cafe colored gown. I had called her as the winner. She was very pretty, but mostly she was very confident in her walk and the way she presented herself. I wasn´t really listening to what she said in response to her question. They were speaking in Spanish, but I was very impressed with mannerisms during the response. In my opinion she was the clear winner, but the people I went with preferred the girl in red. They said she was the nicest.
I cannot get over that the reina competition started at midnight and ended at 3am. The reina is really important in Ecuador. Kellie will go onto compete for Miss Chimborazo, the Provence and then the winner of that will go onto compete for Miss Ecuador. I just think that it is weird that something so culturally important would begin and end at such a ridiculous time
I spent almost all of Saturday alone in my house. I used the reina competition of the night before as an excuse to sleep in and then I just stayed in the house. It was really nice to have some alone time. I feel a little guilty about it. Especially since my host family believes that if I am upstairs that I am asleep. I really think they believe that I slept around 20 hours on Saturday. Personal time isn´t valued here, but since I am living in a different culture, I value it more than I usually do. I often feel overwhelmed with the cultural differences and the language barrier. I often don´t feel like myself because when I can´t express myself very well, I can´t talk about difficult, important topics and I can´t make jokes. If I do, they are usually not considered funny. I can´t be sarcastic and I love sarcasm. Ecuadorians aren´t very sarcastic in general and sarcasm requires a fluency level that few reach in a second language. Because of this, I require more personal time than usual. I always feel a struggle between wanting to be social and wanting to have time to be myself.