A Ripple in Covid Time

Hello friends, we hope all is well with you and yours. 

What a unique time to be alive. 

Just like you, it has been an interesting few months for us here at A Ripple. 

To you, and to our 7.5 billion other friends around the world, we miss you.    

“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” Hippocrates 

As you might know, A Ripple is based in a small town on the coast of Ecuador, South America. 

Two months ago, as Ecuador’s borders were closing, A Ripple’s president, Dr. Suzanne, boarded one of the last commercial flights to the USA. Since then, she has been working hard in the Emergency Room of a Florida hospital dealing with everything under the sun, including Covid-19. Florida, being the retirement state for many elderly, has been hit hard with this virus and at the time of this writing, has seen over 42,000 cases of Covid. 

Suzanne has dealt with this emergency head on, with experience, wisdom, and grace. Just like thousands of her colleagues around the world who wear cumbersome Personal Protective Equipment, she gets off of long shifts only to see a creased and bruised face in the mirror. 

To the estimated 59 million healthcare workers around the world, thank you. 

“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.”  Mourning Dove. Native American author.  

Dr. Suzanne’s time in Florida has come to a close, and as I write this, she’s starting a new effort to help the Navajo Nation. The Navajo are the U.S.’s largest group of Native Americans, and have been acutely affected by this nasty virus. The reservation is spread out over the desert of Arizona, Utah, and where Suzanne is, New Mexico. The Navajo in New Mexico are only 5% of the states population, but make up 20% of Covid cases, and the worst is still to come. Yesterday, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) sent a team to assist the U.S.’s First Citizens. One obvious reason that the Navajo Covid cases are more per capita than any state, is that they have a difficult time being able to wash them selves. It’s estimated that only 50% of Navajo house holds have running water. You read that correctly, the riches country in the world still treats its First Citizens like dirt. 

I asked Suzanne how her first day went? She wrote, “Nice. People working together well and really caring about the Navajo. I saw a tumble weed yesterday and heard coyotes last night. None of the other 4 female doctors here wear makeup. I found my tribe:)” 

“Prevention is better than cure.”  Desiderius Erasmus 

Here in Ecuador, things could be better. For a tiny country with only 17 million people, Ecuador has been hit hard by Covid-19, daily ranking in the top 20 countries most affected by this virus. In Latin countries, social distancing and not touching others is a very foreign experience. As opposed to Asian countries where most people say hello without touching and a bow, here, a greeting comes with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

In early April, Ecuador unfortunately made world news, as its largest city Guayaquil was overwhelmed with cases of Covid-19. The burial services could not keep up with the number of deceased and many bodies were left for days out in the streets. Today, the first case of Covid was reported in a remote endogenous Amazon tribe. 

Here in our tiny town, we have been working on prevention. Just like our past efforts in refugee camps where there’s a scare of ebola or cholera, it’s all about prevention. We started with simple but effective hand washing stations in front of all or our tiny stores and the entrance to our town. These water cooler style stations have soap but also 0.05% of chlorine in them. We have no illusions that everyone will use them, but at least it’s a great visual reminder that these are not normal times. Second, we distributed flyers specifically made for our area, with information about social distancing and hand washing. Along with the flyers, hundreds of bars of soap were given to every house hold. When the average wage is $20 per day, and now with no jobs anyway, a cheap bar of soap is something people neglect to buy. 

We also asked a local woman to make hundreds of masks, and started passing them out to anybody over the age of 60, then 50, and now to whomever needs one. With no masks to buy, we used any thick fabric we could find, including exotic linen I found in Suzanne’s sewing box. In a larger town 20 kilometres away, it made me smile to see a woman waiting in line for the ATM wearing a mask that once was Suzanne’s dress from Nigeria.

With our friend Juan Carlos at Silencio Films, we also made 2 short fun and informative videos about social distancing and hand washing that have been seen and shared throughout our community.  

Over the past few months and with some great volunteers, we’ve safely covered our town and sister town many times over checking on our neighbours. 

Unfortunately, we too are not immune from the spread of this virus.  


Thank you to those of you who’ve donated to our little community. We’ve used your funds on hand washing stations, hundreds of bars of soap and masks, chlorine, water filters, informative and positive propaganda, and essential nourishment for those without work. This pandemic has shown that the richer Western countries live pay check to pay check. Here in Ecuador and many other resource poor countries, we literally live day to day. Thank you for your kind financial gifts to our community. Your generosity is truly appreciated. Muchas gracias.   

“This first truly global crisis reinforces what humanitarians have always believed: our obligations to our fellow women, men, and children are not bound by borders.”  Dehamel. Mercy Corps  

We, as always, are thinking of refugees and the displaced. With daily updates from our humanitarian friends and our refugee friends, our thoughts and concerns for these neglected humans are always in the front of our minds. Being a refugee 4 months ago was a harrowing and a difficult life. A life we can’t comprehend. Can you imagine being a refugee now? 4 months ago, getting across a border to safety was almost an impossible endeavour. Now, it is impossible. These poor souls are stuck in overcrowded camps with very little hygiene services and keeping your distance from others an imposable choice. 

In late January, when this epidemic was turning into a pandemic, the cruise ship Diamond Princess made the news as 700 people were infected and spread this virus on this cramped vessel. On this ship, there were 24 people per 1000 meters squared. Where we were in Bangladesh assisting the Rohingya refugee camp, there’s 40 people per 1000 meters squared. Another refugee camp that we’ve helped, camp Moria on the Greek island of Lesvos, there’s 204 people per 1000 meters squared! 

A couple of days back, the first positive case in the cramped Rohingya camp was reported. Please virus, have mercy. 

During this past week, I’ve been writing to our Congolese refugee friend who last year was my student and translator in Uganda. Ayubu and I taught hundreds of refugee health workers who were fleeing from ebola and living with cholera the importance of hygiene, and how to make a simple hand washing device called a Tippy-Tap. 

Ayubu recently wrote… 

“Oh my boss nice to hear from you I was so scaried longtym without hearing from you. Am glad to hear that our beloved doctor is doing well just say Hi to her thanks. 

Praise be to God for his blessings and care because of Corona virus on the way to Africa pray for us thanks.

Wish to send you some photos of the tippy tap which am making to help people.( tippy tap) now is useful to us.

Thanks for the advice I have to do it several times a day to avoid the spread of virus.

Together with family members nga ur quite bro we are just here praying for you all b’se of Corona virus and we are just at home no more movement.

Nathan is it possible to have ur support because life is not easy in the camp sir refugees are still coming from DRC.

Greating from family members missing you all lovely family wish to see you again, back to me Ayubu, am just here at home nothing to do  no job so life is not good for sure, and we thank you for your support which ur gave us by the time you were here in Uganda. God bless ur family wish you the best.

Thanks nice day.”

As Ayubu said, we too wish you the best. Thanks, nice day. 


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