Improving Water, Improving Health in Ecuador

by Alex Lopez '15

In Winter 2015, Doug Phipps '17 spent eight weeks teaching health education at primary and secondary schools in Muisne, Ecuador. Apart from teaching, Doug worked with the organization Water Ecuador to design and carry out a survey on water consumption and perception. Situated on the island of Muisne, Doug had the unique opportunity to immerse himself in a completely new environment and community with the Water Ecuador team, while building upon his existing Spanish language skills and making new friends with the members of his host organization and local community.

"Living in a rural Ecuadorean town without English speaking companions not only made me improve my Spanish," says Doug, "it enabled me to hear locals' stories and to learn more about myself." 

Water Ecuador aims to improve health in Ecuador through research, water purification kiosks, and education. The organization runs water purification centers in three towns on the coast of Ecuador, where the locals that run the Center purify water, fill 20-liter jugs, and sell them for one dollar.

The organization also has a strong research initiative, with American volunteers coming often to conduct research on water and water borne illnesses. The internship provided Doug a large degree of independence and he was able to structure his own work schedule to carry out his tasks.

Doug describes the internship as "completely out of his comfort zone in the best way possible." The internship allowed him to become a more independent thinker, worker and individual in his research, while also getting to bond with his homestay family, and his local community.

Doug was able to learn more about the practical applications of a career in the global health world, through the lens Water Ecuador, and is considering pursuing global health opportunities after graduating.