Coming to a close

On Friday, the group, ESPINA, for which I have been working completed its data gathering portion of the study as they seek to determine the effects of secondary exposure to pesticides in children. In total, we collected data in 5 different cities within the county of Pedro Moncayo and over 400 hundred children were included with in the study. My role within the study has been to collect a pin prick of blood from every child (unfortunately this always occurs after Janet, the phlebotomist, has drawn blood so every kid thinks I am going to inflict similar amounts of pain) which I use to measure levels of acetylcholinesterase and hemoglobin.

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drawing blood from a child’s fingers

The study also includes in depth analysis of urine, blood, mental health, and concentration ability to see if and how pesticide exposure effects these in children. At the end of every collection day, the laboratory team and I distribute the samples of blood and urine into specific tubes. My role in this has been to place two stickers on every tube (about 400 stickers a day) for which I have become prolific.

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applying stickers with the laboratory team for samples
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pictures of all of samples from samples

Throughout the many weeks this project has been continuing I have been able to make several friends within the cohort of workers, and it was special to spend a celebratory night together after the completion of the project.

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celebratory dinner with the Laboratory Team after the termination of the project

With the completion of the data gathering, I also was able to check off my personal goal that I developed while in Ecuador. Summiting Volcano Cayambe. Standing at 19000 feet Cayambe towers over all of the cities that we have worked. I summited today with my guide at 6 AM after 6 hours of climbing with surprisingly clear conditions throughout. Thankfully I was able to avoid altitude sickness, and reached the summit in time to see the sun rise over the clouds.

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Volcano Cayambe
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standing on top of Cayambe
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Lagunas de Mojanda with Maggie

Finally, I will be spending my last week back in Quito where I will help with organization of data. At this point, my job is undefined but I looking forward to helping out with whatever is needed. With this move back into Quito, I will greatly miss living in the more rural areas of Ecuador. I will miss the laid back nature of the people, fresh cold morning air, and the freedom of walking and running through farms that have made Ecuador feel much like home.

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Panorama view of the surrounding volcanoes taken from the top of Cierra Negro

–  Joel

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