Local Leaders for Global Health: Dra. Diana Franco

Local Leaders for Global Health: Dra. Diana Franco
August 12, 2019 Callie Daniels-Howell

Increasingly, local medical professionals in the countries where we work are serving as volunteers on Timmy Medical Service Trips. Below is a blog written by Dra. Diana Franco, a doctor from Quito, Ecuador, who volunteered during a clinic week in Guangaje, Ecuador, with two of her friends. Thank you, Dra. Diana!

My name is Diana Franco and I am a Medical Doctor from San Francisco de Quito University. The first time I heard about Timmy Global Health was last year when some of my friends joined brigades to Guangaje and Quito. They told me the experience was incredible and that it was pretty different than the social aid we provide in our last year of school. 

I decided to join a brigade in Guangaje to live this experience and two of my friends, Marisol and Pablo, had the same idea on their mind. We started contacting Timmy’s team to try to be on their next brigade and luckily for us, they had spots for us. The trip started and we were really thrilled about what we were going to experience. The first day we met the team was really exciting. We started talking with the nursing students, doctors and nurse practitioners from Montana’s University and we were all there for the same purpose: just trying to help the communities and their people with healthcare and improve their quality of life.

Ecuadorian doctors Diana Franco, Marisol Cardenas, and Pablo Arias volunteering with Timmy in Guangaje, Ecuador.

On the first day, we traveled an hour and a half to a community. The landscape was beautiful and we were all very enthusiastic about our first day. We arrived and Devan, Timmy’s Medical Programs Coordinator in Guangaje, told us we needed to prepare the clinic to start seeing patients. There was my first shock. I couldn’t imagine how we were going to creatively transform this one room into five doctor’s offices. I thought this is insane. But we actually did it. Using different material, some masking tape and a little bit of imagination, we achieved it. 

Actually, the day was full of surprises, at least for Marisol, Pablo and me. We started seeing patients and suddenly I was with a patient that didn’t speak Spanish so we had to ask for a Kichwa translator to help us with the consult. In that exact moment there were three languages in less than 15 square feet: Megan (the student nurse that was helping me) was speaking English with me, I was speaking Spanish with the Kichwa translator, and he was speaking Kichwa with Don Jose, our patient. Our teamwork was incredible.

Even though the next four days should be similar to the first one, actually there were a lot of surprises, new patients, new cases, new emotions, new adventures, and new difficulties: a whole new experience each day and a lot of thankful people.

Marisol, Pablo, and I had worked in different primary health centers near Quito, but there is no experience comparable with this brigade. It was a mixture of feelings. We could see the struggles people in these communities have to deal with every day and tried to understand how hard their lives are and the strength of their mentality that not even the hardest pain could stop them from working. I just wonder how in a small county like mine there could be so many different lifestyles and cultures. 

The best part of the trip was being able to help people in need that live hundreds of miles away who have to walk 2 or 3 hours to get into their local health center because sometimes they do not even have 25 cents for the bus. They paid us with big smiles.

The work Timmy does is amazing. They join people from a different country to try to help a group of people. We went so far just to try to make someone’s life a little bit better.

Thanks, Timmy, for making so much effort to help others and being part of the change. 

As Charles de Lint said: “I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.”