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Reflection: Emma Butterfield on providing medical assistance in Ecuador following the earthquake

The devastation wrought by the earthquake is hard to comprehend: we have driven for hours, through towns, villages, hamlets, all full of collapsing buildings. The roads themselves are scarred with cracks where the earth has just opened up. The disaster has encompassed a huge area.

The people of Ecuador have welcomed us into their homes, have insisted on feeding us everywhere we go, have treated us as guests and friends. They have been incredibly welcoming and appreciative of our help. Their positive attitude, self-reliance and resilience has been an inspiration.

Ecuador is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been: green rolling hills, groves of passion fruit and jasmine, white beaches and an azure sea. Hiking up to some of the remote communities has been an absolute pleasure.

The strength that I see in Team Rubicon is that it brings together people from different backgrounds, with complementary skills and a common goal. I have learnt something from every member of the team. It has been illuminating and humbling.

Emma (kneeling) with other members of Team Rubicon, refusing to let a little bit of mud get in the way of their mission
Emma (kneeling) with other members of Team Rubicon, refusing to let a little bit of mud get in the way of their mission

Another strength of TR is its flexibility to adapt to the reality of the situation on the ground. Since arriving in Ecuador Team Rubicon has sought to reach areas which are inaccessible to most healthcare professionals due to their location or lack of resources. In those places where there were no earthquake casualties, TR has targeted the other health needs of the population by providing basic primary care at a time when they don’t have the time or the resources to go to their usual health centres.

Whilst on base, we have also helped sort donations, unload water, and have liaised extensively with local army and government officials.

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