A wide spot in my imagination.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 5: Blogging through Ecuador - Superheroes

Super heroes wear capes and fly, right? They're tall and muscular and chiseled, right?

Expect this one. That's not his picture. His name is Victor Vaca. He's short, dark-skinned and weathered. Soft-spoken, but passionate. Funny and single-minded. His purpose in life is to help the indigenous people of Ecuador help themselves to better lives.

Victor and his first wife (the late Violet) founded FEDICE to work for human rights, community development, and religious education among the Kichwa Indians of Ecuador.

Victor has a new wife (Marlene) and a thousand stories to tell. Stories of defying racism, of a prison term with a quick-car getaway, of work in Switzerland and Paraguay and more.

One story...

In 1996, an outbreak of cholera swept through the Imbabura Province of Ecuador (including the community of Cachimuel) where we are working. Health officials were loathe to deal with this surprise epidemic since cholera had been almost unknown in Ecuador for a hundred years.

Those who were sick were not welcomed in hospitals. When a man died in Cachimuel, no one would come pick up his body because they were afraid of contracting the disease.

Enter our superhero. Victor drove to the village, put the dead man's body in his truck, and took the body to the cemetery.

Once the outbreak slowed, Victor and his organization, FEDICE, went to work, first building latrines in the village for better hygiene, then helping the community develop a water system.

That's what superheroes do. They touch the untouchables, and they dig ditches for water pipes.

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