By Tammy Truong
Tammy is Timmy’s Director of Health Programs in the Amazon Basin, and has overseen Timmy’s health programming and medical trips in the Napo Region for the past year. This blog post highlights the exciting development of a new rural health center in the Timmy community of San Pedro de Sumino, funded by an incredible group of supporters from Off the Mat and Into the World. (photos by Amparo Gabela)
Timmy’s programming in the Amazon region of Ecuador continues to grow, and last Wednesday members of Timmy Global Health, Hombro a Hombro, and Off the Mat, along with local partners and community leaders, came together to celebrate the opening of a brand new Rural Health Center in the remote community of San Pedro de Sumino, in the Chontapunta region of Napo Province in Ecuador.
Timmy’s programming in the Amazon region has been expanding rapidly over the last year, growing from just 7 to 15 communities served by our primary care clinics. We’ve also added dental services to our mobile clinics and have strengthened our focus on public health and water safety. With the addition of these new communities and programs, Timmy saw a need to improve our presence on the ground in the Amazon Basin with a more permanent structure – and a Rural Health Center seemed like the perfect solution.
A lack of infrastructure and other resources means that travel is often difficult for Timmy patients in the Amazon region. But we are thrilled to announce that our new Rural Health Center is centrally located among the further Chontapunta partner communities – making it easily accessible to remote Timmy patients and partners. This central location means that Timmy now has a wonderful new space to host workshops and trainings for community health promoters, as well as bi-monthly mobile medical clinics for surrounding communities. Additionally, the center will be a wonderful central location for local patients to receive follow-up care. And in the future, Timmy hopes to employ a full time local physician to treat patients at the facility on a regular basis.
Off the Mat and Into the World, an organization whose mission to use “the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and to ignite grass roots social change” supported the construction of the new facility as part of its Global Seva Challenge. Members of the group fundraised for an entire year to support worthy causes in Ecuador, and spent two weeks in March visiting their selected organizations – one of which was Timmy.
During their visit with Timmy, Off the Mat members were treated to talks regarding the social and political context of cultural and environmental preservation within the Amazon region. They learned about traditional healing practices with a local shaman. They held yoga and stretching classes with children and adults in the community. They helped put the finishing touches on the new Rural Health Center – painting logos for Timmy Global Health and Hombro a Hombro, Timmy’s local partner. They added Dr. Chuck’s famous quote to greet visiting volunteers, reminding everyone that, “We were not all born to be doctors and nurses, but we were all born to be healers.” They also planted 50 cacao seedlings to replace the vegetation that was removed during the construction. And finally, they got to enjoy the best of what Ecuador has to offer – music, dance, laughs, and smiles during the official inauguration ceremony of our brand new Rural Health Center!
During her speech, Off the Mat Founder Seane Korn, commented that the check she wrote to support the Rural Health Center in San Pedro de Sumino was “one of the easiest I’ve ever had to sign.” Pablo Boada, Executive Director of Hombro a Hombro, spoke of the progress we can all make when there is mutual understanding, cooperation, and desire for change within the community and the supporting organizations.
Valerie Matron, Timmy’s International Programs Manager, traveled in from Quito to share in the festivities and reinforced the organization’s dedication to improving access to health services for our communities. Ramiro Montoya, Director of Patronato (Napo Province’s social services arm of the provincial government) stressed the importance of Timmy’s collaboration with his organization. Leading the way in terms of impact, patients treated, and reputation of Timmy Global Health within the province, he reminded those in attendance that, thanks to Timmy – patients are healthier, have more access to quality healthcare on a routine basis, and that lives have been saved with the services that Timmy has to offer.
As Timmy’s Director of Health Programs in the Amazon Basin, I also got to partake in the activities, and had an opportunity to thank the community and all collaborating partners, including the family of Antonia Grefa, Timmy’s health promoter in San Pedro de Sumino. Antonia donated the land on which the facility was constructed. Fracisco Velastegui, builder and architect for the project, also donated time and services in the effort to bring more access to healthcare to the remote communities of the Amazon Basin.
Opening ceremony festivities included special dances presented by San Pedro de Sumino’s community members, some as young as 4 years old. Health promoters from other Timmy communities made the trip to celebrate the inauguration and put together a special dance to show their appreciation. Representatives from the community, all partner organizations, and Off the Mat members shared in the official ribbon cutting to celebrate the inauguration of the new center. A singer entertained the crowd with traditional songs in Kichwa, and Suzanne Sterling of Off the Mat rounded out the program with a drum and dance that brought everyone to their feet and dancing together.
And the best part is that this is just the beginning! We can’t wait to share more stories with you about how the Rural Health Center is improving our ability to provide access to critical healthcare services to Timmy patients in this region.