McLennan resident, Yvonne Sawchyn traveled to Quito, Ecuador first in 2017 and again in February of this year, working as a volunteer team member for the Canadian Association of Medical Teams Abroad (CAMTA).
Originally stationed in Cuenca during its first year, CAMTA moved to its location in Quito following the signing in 2002 of a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of San Francisco De Quito (USFQ) to establish a medical student exchange between USFQ and the University of Alberta.
The CAMTA team performed 32 surgeries on children and adults over a one-week period in 2003 in Quito and in February 2019, two teams will return to Quito marking its eighteenth annual mission and the eleventh year sending two groups.
CAMTA depends on volunteers for all facets of its mission in Quito, including orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists, family medicine doctors, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, medical students, translators and lay people.
It also relies on volunteers to organize the considerable logistical undertaking of moving people, medical supplies and equipment to the mission in Quito.
Approximately one in every one-thousand babies worldwide are born with a club foot, and in Ecuador, the majority of these children are never treated at birth, resulting in serious impediments when learning to walk or making it impossible to do so.
Dysplasia, a birth defect that can cripple a person by the age of thirty is also extremely prevalent in Ecuador.
Poverty and limited access to medical assistance is a primary reason for these conditions going untreated and those afflicted suffer throughout their lives with pain and limited mobility.
CAMTA’s mission since 2002 has been to address these economic and medical limitations and offer people in the region essential medical care.
Yvonne Sawchyn who volunteers in the role of layperson, says that her experience in Quito has taught her how much we take for granted in Canada due to our relative economic wellbeing and access to services and health care.
Along with volunteering, businesses and individuals also provide sponsorship to CAMTA through financial support.
CAMTA is a non-denominational, secular organization whose mission solely focuses on providing medical care.
Once accepted as a volunteer and having participated in a mission, a volunteer can become an integral part of the CAMTA team.
Yvonne Sawchyn plans to return to Quito as a CAMTA volunteer in February 2019.