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July - August Update
Stewart & Anna-Claire Cusick

If you read our last update, you would have heard that we where in the middle of a country wide protest. Well thankfully that has finish, at least for now. During the protests, the international media said that the province we lived in was no longer under government control. Not sure if the government has ever really had control of our province but being from Ireland, we know how the media like to exaggerate thing. The government has until the 19th of September to complete all the demands of the protesters. Let’s hope they do as the last protest stretched everyone thin before it ended after 18 days.

It became a bit boring during the protests being stuck in Shell. All the protest chat and concentrating on finding essentials helped to distract us after our return from being home in Ireland. It delayed the feelings of missing home setting in as quick. However, these feelings did come a few weeks after the strike and to be honest it’s been hard to remain positive. Anna-Claire reminded us that in some small way we are experiencing what Christ went through when he came to live on earth. He was a God surrounded by humans, they could never understand him, what he had given up or where he had come from. What a privilege it is to in some small way to walk the same path as HE who gave up everything for us.

The Madness of The Government Health Service…

As you all well know by now AC is doing her year of service with the Ecuadorian public health service. She only has 4 months left until she finishes even though it feels like an eternity! She was recently asked to run a medical brigade to a rural jungle community. This brigade was run by the health service and was not in conjunction with Voz y Manos who Anna-Claire has went with before. The story that follows is what happened to Anna-Claire but I suggest you put yourself in the shoes of a recently graduated medical student. You have only been working a maximum of 1 month as a doctor. You are a city kid and have never been to another country let alone the Amazon.

On Thursday afternoon at 5pm you are told you are going on a brigade to the jungle and to report to a meeting the next day at 2pm. You arrive at the meeting to find out you are one of only a few who has actually turned up to the meeting. The rest of the people expected obviously haven’t been contacted yet or it’s their day off or they are on their holidays. Let’s be honest, what did the management expect when only informed the employees the day before at 5pm! The management (loose term!!) spend the next 3 hours trying to contact those who were supposed to be there.

During this time, you are given a list material you need to collect and bring with you on the trip by a smug employee. He/she thinks they are doing you a favour providing this list as obviously you should know to bring a generator and fuel with you, among other things. Yes, they will provide the generator but you will have to get it and find out the contact information of the person who gives them out (its expected you should know how to contact anyone and everyone even though you have never met or heard of them). Great, they provide the generator and yes, they do provide the medicine but again it’s your problem to source the medicine from the various clinics in the area. You also have to decide what medicine to bring but remember you have never done this before. Ok but they’re going to provide you with, a tent, roll matt, sleeping bag, food, water, contact information of someone in the community, survival training, wilderness medical training, right? WRONG! (Halfway through this list I realised it would have been easier to list what they do supply but anyway you get the idea!)  Yes, that’s right you have to beg borrow and steal whatever you can and remember you live up to 10 hours’ drive from you home so mummy and daddy won’t be helping you.

Ok so you’re thinking I can do this; I will have a few weeks to get this all sorted. Think again you poor fool, think again, you’re going on Monday morning at 8pm. You’re flying to a community in the middle of the Ecuadorean Amazon with no internet, electricity, and the only way in and out is by plane. You can’t believe they are only giving you 2 full days to get everything sorted and you’re not even supposed be working the weekend. But you think, I have a weekend full of activities it’s your brother’s wedding or its your anniversary. Well better cancel everything because you have got work to do. You spend the rest of the weekend chasing medical supplies and getting your food and supplies ready. So, by this stage you would have though you would have met the other nurses and dentists that will go with you… wrong again, they actually haven’t confirmed who will even be going yet. Sunday night comes and you want some more confirmation that they have a full team and will defiantly be going so you ring the director. He says he will call you back but you get the idea by now, he doesn’t bother ring you back or even sending a message. You ring a friend who is also doing the rural year of service and he tells you that you are lucky because he found out he was flying out at 5am on a Monday morning and the flight would leave at 8pm. Now you’re starting to think you might actually have got lucky!

Its Monday morning, you go to the airport at 8pm to see what is happening and there you meet time your team for the first time. You are advised you will leave soon; in reality you leave at 12pm. You’re now in the Amazon - good luck! Set up your clinic and treat the community with the limited medicine and equipment you have brought with you. Oh, we forgot to mention on Wednesday morning another community is coming to take you further into the jungle on a 4-hour hike (yea right 4 hours! Try at least 6 hours for people who don’t live there and aren’t carrying heavy equipment). Once there you to set up another clinic and return back to the previous community by the 4-hour to leave on the Friday. You are now safely back home dreading the next phone call as you may be off to the jungle again on Monday!!

Yes, this actually happened and yes this is normal. The story perfectly highlights the mad systems that the poor Ecuadorians have to work in and also our cultural differences and priorities. For them they are used to it but for us it seems like madness and dangerous.  This is what it’s like every day in the public health service.

On the bright side after the stress of getting there Anna-Claire really enjoyed her time there. She is also really considering doing more of these brigades in the future. Just not with the public health service as they might get her killed!
Anna-Claire and her team in the community Kurintza

Stewart’s New Fronteras…

Stewart as you may also know has been working in Shell hospital looking after the IT system, organising volunteers to the hospital, and helping with the maintenance team. Recently he has went part time, 3 days a week in the hospital and the other 2 days is chilling with Netflix boxsets!!  Only messing, the other 2 days he is working with Voz y Manos on the water and toilet projects for the jungle community. He has been doing this for 3 weeks now. During this time, he has been getting up to speed with how it all works and meeting the communities they work with. He is really enjoying the work and feels he can be a real help with his engineering experience. This is something he has always wanted to do and if he feels he can really help it will help us make our decision on whether we return to Ecuador in the future. Below are some pictures of his recent trip to a community to install a water system.

He will also be taking responsibility this week of the housing behind the hospital for the missionaries over the next 4 months. As you can see, he is juggling many pies at the minute let’s hope he doesn’t drop them!
The guys at Voz y Manos inspecting the water capture
The water tanks in position for feed the water to the community.
The community covering over the pipes that lead to the tanks

Other than that…

So, we haven’t had much time out of work the last few months, but last weekend we did our first 7 ½ hour round trip to a height of 3300m on the motorbike. Its asking a lot of a 250cc Chinese import with 2 big heifers (one slightly bigger than the other), their luggage and limited oxygen. There we stayed 2 nights in the mission vacation houses with our friends and leaders of Voz y Manos Shell, Dawn and Vinicio Salazar and their kids. We were able to relax at the thermal hot springs in the area and enjoy lovely views of the Andes Mountain range. Next trip in the hopefully not so distant future Cuenca, a 12-14 hour round trip.
Us with the Salazar’s after steeping in the thermals all day.
Prayer Requests
  • Thankful that we made it through the protests in the country. Pray that we would receive a reimbursement for the extra flight and travel expenses from the insurance company.
  • Pray for Anna-Claire as he only has 4 moths left in the job but the work is increasing as she tries to complete everything before she leaves.
  • Pray for Stewart in his new job with Voz y Manos that he would really find a place for himself there.
  • Finally, prayer for our future decisions and if we will return to Ecuador to continue working alongside the people of Shell.
We are extremely grateful for all your loving prayers and support.
Please become part of our work
For those of you who are interested in our support group feel free to contact Hannah Das  We meet once a month via zoom for prayer and a catch up.  We love to hear about peoples lives back home so please join us.
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Please see our contact information below.

UK Tel: +447969386770
Ecuador Tel: +593989899371

UK Tel: +447821224993
Ecuador Tel: +593989890445

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Stewart and Anna-Claire Cusick
Hospital Shell
Calle Asunción Cueva

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