Nick Sewell nearly cried when he couldn't find the right shoe size for a boy to walk to school in this summer during his trip to Ecuador.
Sewell, an academic coordinator in the College of Education Office of Graduate Studies at WSU, joined an assortment of local volunteers that travelled to the country this summer to bring medical attention to the poor.
The group included doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians and WSU faculty and alumni.
The volunteers treated more than 900 people in four villages for various illnesses and conditions, said Nick Sewell, who went on the trip.
Sewell gave a presentation on Wednesday to students and faculty about his experience.
Nick Hayward / The Daily Evergreen
“We just set up wherever we could,” he said. “It wasn’t fancy, but it met the needs.”
Local nurse Nancy Gregory arranged the trip through her non-profit organization Ecuador Medical Missions, a Christian-affiliated group.
“The team works with some of the poorest people of Ecuador, providing needed medical care and medications at no cost to them,” Gregory wrote on Ecuador Medical Missions’ web page.
The group consisted of a number of medical practitioners, but it also served as a practicum project for WSU Pharmacy students, allowing them to get real-world experience.
No medical students were on the team this year, but some have been in the past, Sewell said.
Sewell’s original interest in a mission to Ecuador came about nine years ago from his daughter Danielle, who said she wanted to go to travel there to help people.
The sense of incompleteness Sewell noticed in the villages struck him from the beginning of the trip, he said. Houses often remained unfinished on one side or abandoned all together.
“That was a little disturbing for me,” Sewell said.
The medical team split up to five clinics, each with a different focus - spiritual, pharmacy, medical, children’s and shoes and socks.
Sewell spent time in all of the clinics, but gave most of his time to the spiritual clinic, praying with men and women and explaining his faith to them.
“This is my passion, right here,” Sewell said.
During the trip, the team distributed 1,000 pairs of shoes and socks to children.
“Each child must have a uniform to attend school,” Gregory wrote. “Socks and shoes are an important component of the uniform that we provide.”
The children also had to walk to school, and in that sense, the shoes helped their education, Sewell said. Some had curled toes from wearing shoes that were too small.
Some of the Ecuadorian children he worked with rarely had time to play. The team brought chalk, crayons and stickers for the children, and Sewell let some of the younger ones draw on his face.
After his presentation, junior public relations major Bailey Potter asked Sewell how he felt the mission impacted his life in Pullman.
In response, Sewell said, “I think I view things differently, and I have more of a sense of gratefulness for what I do have.”
The trip was the seventh for Ecuador Medical Missions since Gregory founded the organization nine years ago. Ecuadorian political leaders tell the team which villages they will care for, Sewell said.
The trip cost about $2,500 for each person, excluding spending money, Sewell said.
The Ecuadorian military has also been involved in supporting Ecuador Medical Missions for the last two years. They help the team move its supplies and set up clinics in the villages.