by August Longino
When volunteers come on Timmy medical trips, they are immediately greeted by a Timmy staff member, and work closely with Timmy staff throughout the week. As volunteers head home, many of them leave with the impression that we Timmy staff run all the programming that goes on here in-country. However, Iâ€™ll be the first to admit that nothing could be further from the truth. At each Timmy site there is a whole host of local staff, volunteers, and Timmy affiliates that make what we do possible. From drivers, to health promoters, to local doctors, to social workers, each of these incredible people work extremely hard to do the work that comes before and after Timmyâ€™s medical trips.
This blog post is the first of many that I hope will help to shed some much deserved light on the important local staff and volunteers who help us expand access to thousands of underserved patients each year.
Elicio Grefa is an extremely important part of Timmyâ€™s programming in the Amazon Basin region of Ecuador. He is an employee of Patronato de Amparo Social, one of Timmyâ€™s international partner organizations. Elicio serves as one of Timmyâ€™s critical liaisons and is our main contact with the local government. During medical trips, Patronato provides Timmyâ€™s medical teams with the transportation we need to set up mobile clinics and helps us communicate with rural communities by providing Kichwa translators. Once the medical teams leave, Elicio helps me coordinate with the local government to help Timmyâ€™s referral patients get the transportation and other logistical help they need to get to their appointmentsâ€”whether theyâ€™re in the local hospital in Archidona or six hours away in Quito.Â
Elicio also goes on house visits with me to check up on patients that have recently returned from the hospital. When one of Timmyâ€™s doctors refers a patient to the Tierra Nueva Hospital in Quito, Elicio wakes up at 3 in the morning to ensure that that patient gets to his or her appointment at 9:30. When we explore new potential Timmy communities, Elicio is there to help me translate my Spanish into Kichwa so that local leaders understand our mission. In addition to all of this, Elicio is also the person that coordinates the pickup trucks and canoes that help Timmyâ€™s medical teams get to work on time, and back again at night. He is indispensable before, during, and after Timmyâ€™s medical trips.
Elicio is Kichwa, a member of the largest indigenous group in the Amazon basin. He is completely bilingual in Spanish and Kichwa, and knows a few words of English. He is 41 years old, and has a health family of 5 children ranging from 3 to 14â€”3 girls and 2 boys. His wife, Irene Quinobanda, works in a the local market, cooking and serving food from 6 am until 7 pm every day. Elicio has been working for Patronato in a variety of roles for 16 years, from rural construction worker to logistics manager, to his current position as community promoter. He has been elected president of two different communitiesâ€”Canoayacu, the community where he was born and raised, has elected him 3 consecutive times. In addition to his incredible work with Timmy, he is much loved in the community for having done the legwork to build a bridge that connects the isolated community of Canoayacu to the larger town of Tena.
Elicioâ€™s dedication to Timmy is truly admirable, and he is deeply invested in our work to expand access to healthcare. He is fond of saying that Timmy, unlike many government programs, provides our patients with a complete service, from daily vitamins to transportation to the hospital.