Medical students from Boston University and Dartmouth College ventured to lead and deliver three weeks worth of lesson plans to children from Cacha, an indigenous parrish twenty minutes away from Riobamba (central highlands in Ecuador). Eleven first year students had prepared for three months previous their start date on July 4, 2011, some had arrived to take medical Spanish classes and attended hospitals and clinics shadowing local doctors. In addition, the majority had an acceptable proficiency of Spanish. But nothing could have prepared them for the cross-cultural impact of 250 children. Yes, children are children anywhere, they are curious and silly,running close to mischievous and exploring the boundaries.Cacha children learn to do household activities very young, they take care of animals and crops during their summer vacation.Most of them walk to the city of Riobamba and help their parents in the markets;others just work in stores or in households.The ages range from 7 to 14 years old. In all, their life is not easy, they experience discrimination and lack of opportunities in education and health. Although the health camps will not solve their problems, Cacha children will be redirected to other topics and people for three weeks.Probably will maintain their faces clean and shiny for some weeks, and treasure their school supplies and toothbrushes brought by these medical students.
The last week has been to wrap – up and to have assessments on the learning. A group has shared with us the kind of assessments they did their last week.
Definitely our second week had more success. Children learned the names of the bones and body parts, some organs and how they function. It was very attractive for many kids to have their own white shirt to draw the heart and lungs. It turned out really well. In our nutrition lesson, we drew a big plate of 4 categories of food which are fruits, vegetables, meat (protein) and carbohydrates. They drew pictures of plates which they like the most in each category. They enjoyed these activities a lot, using all these materials to draw, brought huge smiles to their faces!
In Cacha, they do not have an access to pure water. They drink from tap water which is still unsanitary and filled with bacteria. There is a report that over 50 % of children in one school have bacteria in their stomachs, maybe stools(?) They do not know how to access clean water. So, the medical students told them to boil the water before they drink it, which is really important. Maybe, there are other reasons that explain why they keep drinking the untreated water, moreover, maybe they are doing other unsanitary activities that increases the exposure to bacteria. For example, not cleaning the kitchen utensils or not washing their hands after using the toilet.
The community is very poor, and they do not have enough amount of health education. Yet, the children are learning to take better care of themselves and their families, and also how important to keep themselves healthy. We have noticed that they have started washing their hands before they eat, which is becoming a habit. But, then, I question myself, when does this become a habit or a practice? How long will it take? So ,many questions so little time. Slowly but surely, the community and the attitude of the children are changing. The next post includes some pictures of our second week!
Head,shoulders,knees and toes! Our Body!
First, listening to our hearts.
Then, drawing body parts!
On white board:
Later, knowing the 4 categories of food and drawing food we like!
They learned to wash hands before eating, so they went to wash their hands before getting snacks.
They just learned how to count from one to ten in English. Then they are counting one to ten in English while they are stretching.
They are learning about the five senses.
After they learned names of the body parts in English, they played “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” with using the vocabulary they just learned.
They are so happy to have their own toothbrushes
They are getting washed their faces and hands.
It’s been a while since the last update. I would like to declare that the camp is amazing. We started teaching the basic hygiene practice through the games. The children learned to protect themselves from germs by washing hands, face, feet, brushing teeth and covering when they cough or sneeze. They seemed really enjoying playing the hygiene games. We also started teaching English such as basic greetings, numbers, colors and some body parts. We used those words when we play activities or so. Overall, the medical students are providing really practical lessons.
The children are learning. They have been experiencing what is better to do for their hygiene. The Cacha people do not take a good care of their hygiene. They do not have a custom of washing hands, face, or brushing teeth. Regarding that, it is one of our biggest challenge to provide the community basic hygiene.
One day, the children were provided a toothbrush and toothpaste, and they had a lesson of brushing teeth. Their blackish teeth became so clean. After that, a student washed their hands and faces with soap. We could see how their faces and hands became cleaner. Every child felt better after getting their faces and hands washed. The children are learning what is better. The following day, they came to camp and it was obvious that they washed themselves that morning. Their face had beautiful SHINE!
We are so happy to see that the children are learning the importance of keeping themselves away from sickness and how to prevent
themselves from it. It is not a common idea for the Cacha people to keep themselves clean. That is going to be a big challenge for us that how to make
them as custom and make the people to keep practicing it.
As promised, here are pictures from the summer health camps! Enjoy!
Medical Students and Cacha Professors – Looking Good!
So where is Ecuador? And, where is Boston? What is Dartmouth?
Small Group Activities – Hands on stuff.
First things first. We needed to know each other. We played different games.
¿Cómo te llamas?
Yeah! Snack time.
During class, we needed to know Cacha children’s definition of health?
Loving this new experience.
Caroline M. (BU) with small group.
Medical students from Boston University and Dartmouth College are
collaborating with Cachamsi and have organized a Summer Health Camp in Cacha, an indigenous Andean community in Riobamba, Ecuador. The students have prepared for several weeks in order to make this a great success. The summer camp is an excellent alternative for school children from Cacha, who would otherwise be working in the city or tending to crops and animals. For the summer of 2011, the camps will run for three weeks with a focus on health education and basic English lessons. This is quite important because these children not only need good health education but such a cross-cultural experience with medical students from the United States should be beneficial to them as well.
The summer camps started on July 4th of 2010. Four groups of Boston University and Dartmouth College medical students began the introductory lessons in the first morning. The Parrish of Cacha consists of 23 communities and extends southeast of the City of Riobamba, the provincial seat of the Province of Chimborazo. The main objectives of the summer health camps are to provide an educational and cross-cultural opportunity to indigenous children from the ages of five to fourteen during part of their summer vacation. Most of these children are grade and middle school students. This age range may present some special challenges, but we will see!
The first day was made up of introductory sessions where, among other things, we did some activities with the aim of better understanding where the U.S. and Ecuador are on the map. Small groups were also formed in order to introduce ourselves by passing balls to each other; forming a circle, children and medical students had to say their names when the ball fell on their hands. Everyone also played soccer so as to get to know each other in another manner. The children enjoyed these activities and learned something about a new culture and new people. The children were also asked to draw pictures about what they think that health means and some of them had really good ideas about its definition.
Since we all also had a great time, it seems that the dual objective will be accomplished at this camp. On the one hand, the children seemed fascinated to have people from another country in their schools, to learn about health topics and basic English. On the other hand, the medical students have the opportunity of living in a true community service project.
Pictures to come on the next post.
Help us provide ~320 school children from the indigenous Parish of Cacha in Ecuador ~ snack items for the upcoming 2011 summer health camps! For the past 4 summers, we have facilitated 3 to 4 weeks health camps to elementary school children in Cacha, Ecuador.
Cacha is an indigenous parish composed of 23 communities. Cachamsi has the privilege to work year round with different community service projects in Cacha such as the summer health camps. This year 11 medical students from Boston University and Dartmouth College have teamed up, creating lesson plans, raising funds for teaching materials and delivering health related lessons to 320 children. Originally, 120 children were signed up for the summer camps, the demand has increased to 320 children,which have surpassed our capacity to supply snacks to the children. For more information on Cachamsi’s social responsibility:http://www.cachamsi.com/index-1.html
We are asking for your contribution. Please send your check to:
Cachamsi, 402 Youens Dr., Weimar, Texas 78962