A lesson in compassion

Trip Start Apr 21, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Friday, June 28, 2013

When I arose this morning, I was naturally starving, as no-one had been around the night before and I didn't have any dinner.  I walked over to the kitchen area, for my usual 7am breakfast time...no one was there.  I returned at 7.30 and then again at 8am but again, no one was around.  I asked the receptionist in the clinic, but she said she hadn't seen either of the parteras all morning, and presumed they were in their own homes.  As Miriam was not coming to work today, and the parteras were not there either, I decided to follow suit and go into town for a nice breakfast.  I was quite annoyed as yesterday they didn't call me to go to the communities in the morning, and then they hadn't shown up for the last two meals.  I also hadn't seen one of the parteras all week and the last time I saw her she barely spoke to me.  Today was my last official day with the volunteering, and although the doctors had been telling me to stay for a leaving party next week, I was quite fed up and was thinking about leaving this morning instead.  I was really annoyed that it looked like my volunteering would end on a sour note and that I felt like the novelty of me being there had well and truly worn off. 

Whilst having an extremely quick cold shower, I gave myself a talking to.  I couldn't believe that I had been thinking about leaving, just because I had missed a few meals and the staff had seemed a bit distant with me.  People here go without eating for days at a time, and would love to have the option of just "going into town for a nice, extortionately priced, tourist type breakfast".  I am trying to understand their customs and ways and also the difficluties that they face, but I always know that this is only a short term project for me.  If I hate it I can leave at any moment, but these people are living in these conditions for their whole lives.  I may wonder about the nutritional content of my food but I know I will be able to eat what I like in a months time and they will be eating yuca, with rice for years to come.  I may complain about having a cold shower, but that is all they have ever known.  No, I wasn't going to fall at the last hurdle, I am going to see it through to the end and say a proper goodbye to everyone (but maybe I will stock up on spare food in my room just in case).

I saw Olga (one of the parteras) on the bus into town and she asked me if their friend had cooked me a nice breakfast and dinner last night.....um, no, not really.  I could tell that she was really annoyed with the friend and she joked that I didn't have enough fat on me to go that long between meals.  She gestured that I needed to go quickly to find something to eat, before I disappear.  Instantly all was forgiven and forgotten and I was annoyed at myself for thinking that they were fed up with me.  She also explained that Adela's grandson was in hospital and that was why she wasn't in the clinic much this week.  It was a good lesson for me, to stop thinking about things from my perspective and wondering if they were getting annoyed with my lack of understanding of Spanish and their customs.  Instead I need to work on my lack of compassion, for these amazing women who are trying to be there for their large families, their husbands who are both looking for work, the clinic, the pregnant women, and their much welcomed volunteer.

Once I got back to the clinic, I was extremely pleased that I had given myself a reality check, even though there was ANOTHER huge spider waiting for me by my front door.....
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karen on

Way to go on the self talk! I suppose a lesson in compassion we could all exercise more! Wherever we are.

Marge Sylvestre on

How true.. we worry so much about self but we need to really think how the rest of the women around the world exist.. we spend alot of time in Mexico and see so much poverty but yet they are so ready to please Canadians.. Thank You for all your inspirations and sharing..Marge Sylveatre

Natalie on

What a great decision you made to look at the other side of things! You are such a lovely person :)

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