Baca Ortiz is a public pediatric specialty hospital in Quito treating children aged from 0 to 15 years old. The hospital was founded in 1948 and has been saving children’s lives for over 60 years. Children from all over Ecuador come here to receive medical treatment and according to recent statistics over 140,000 patients are treated every year. The hospital provides medical care in different specialties, attends to medical emergencies and provides long-term care for those who are extremely ill.
As it is a public hospital, most of the children who receive treatment come from poor families and although the hospital is state-funded there is not enough money to provide free treatment for all and parents have to find a way of covering their child’s medical costs.
When patients have travelled a long distance for treatment, one of the parents is allowed to stay in the hospital in the same room with their child. The hospital offers breakfast and lunch to some parents, but unfortunately the budget is not sufficient enough for all of them. The hospital also has some private rooms but as there aren’t enough; social workers have to decide which parents can stay there.
The hospital is extremely lacking in not only funding but also personnel, so the help of volunteers is extremely appreciated.
The main area that you will be working in is the “Ludoteca” or play area. The goal of the Ludoteca is to help children get better through play. Children who are well enough are allowed to go to the play area after the morning rounds to play games and carry out other recreational activities. They enjoy being able to go somewhere else and not be in their beds on the wards all day. They often visit the play room together with their parents, which allows the parents to relax and enjoy a positive moment with their children. You can join parents and children in their play, talk to parents (if they appreciate this) or play with children who come by themselves.
There are also children who are too sick to move from their beds, are on special wards or are not able to walk independently, so you will also be able to help by visiting these patients on the wards with another person from the hospital staff. In November 2013 Ecole donated a play cart to the hospital to take up to the wards.
Your main task is to play, motivate and get to know these children, make them smile and make them forget about their worries. As some of these children are long-term patients at the hospital, they miss a large part of their school education. Volunteers are more than welcome to take the initiative to give English, mathematics or music lessons or any educational and recreational activity to the children and/or parents. This should always be done in a playful way so that children will be motivated to participate in the activities. Speak to the volunteer coordinator if you have some ideas.
If your level of Spanish is good enough, you can also participate in talking to the parents. Parents of the ill children often have more problems than their ill child. Sometimes it concerns single parents or other problems are taking place in the household. If parents appreciate it, you can talk to them and offer your support.
- Serving breakfast to group of parents in the morning.
- Taking note of which children visit the Ludoteca and writing down comments about the children and their well-being in the notebook.
- Organize activities such as theatre shows, hand puppets shows or other performances to entertain the children.
The more hard work you put into the project the more reward you get! Show initiative, work independently and don’t be afraid of working hard. They need all the help you can give them.
You will work every day from Monday to Friday between the hours of 08.00am and 5.00pm. It is possible to work only in the mornings, only in the afternoons or the whole day, depending on which is more suitable for you. However, you have to decide with the volunteer coordinator the hours that you want to help and be responsible for maintaining this. The Ludoteca is closed between 13.00pm and 14.00 pm. You can bring your own lunch or have lunch in the hospital´s restaurant (for a small price). The minimum stay in this project is two weeks, but the longer you stay the better.
The hospital is located very close to the Mariscal area of Quito and is only a 5-10 minute walk from the Spanish School.