Ecuador Impact Trip: Caring Communities


The following entry was written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Mendal Bouknight. Serving as a MedShare Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Mendal Bouknight is a dedicated advocate for MedShare’s global mission having been introduced while President of the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont is a founding partner of MedShare. During his career, Mendal served in senior leadership roles with Emory University; Clemson University, his alma mater; and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.  He currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. You can see Mendal’s previous post here.


Visit to Damien House

Damien House clarified for me the fact that leprosy (Hansen disease) is not contagious. And the more important outreach we could give with a simple touch and hug to the residents living there would be powerful. The moment our party walked through the door, we each reached out to those who greeted us and provided the subtle human interaction their families and their culture had isolated them from experiencing.


Embraced in 1988 by a nun from America, Sister Annie Credidio, of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, B.V.M.  Sister Annie has made the people of Damien House her purpose. And with young American volunteers and the support of the Junta and MedShare, the men and women of Damien House are embraced in an understanding and compassionate community.

The Community of San Carlos

Employing as many at 3,700 people and embracing the entire family and community around, Ingenio San Carlos is a successful sugar cane enterprise that has existed and thrived for 120 years. To their credit, this family-owned business understands their success is founded in their investment in their people and their families.

Our party was the honored guest at a celebration where new wheelchairs were presented to more than a dozen residents with severe physical/ambulatory disorders. For one family where four adults were afflicted, the one sibling not impacted and caring for her siblings was overcome with gratitude and praise.

We were hosted at the local school, funded by San Carlos, visiting various classrooms, seeing the access these students have to current technology and the exposure they have to the arts. We were serenaded by a young girl with a beautiful voice and then by four young cellists performing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

We then toured the hospital provided by the company and saw the improvements in care over time thanks to Junta and MedShare.  From their Emergency Department to their diagnostic facilities to their on Obstetrician who delivers 25 babies a week, you see the importance quality healthcare means to a community of 13,000 + relying on this one industry for everyone’s wellbeing.