While everyone on the Bolivia team came here with the same goals, we (Lily and Sydney) were sent with a specific task: to collect data regarding the health and sanitation of the rural community we visited in the Amazon. Shoulder to shoulder worked alongside the epidemiology department at Wayne State University (located in Detroit,Mi) to attempt to determine the success rate of previously installed water filters–whose purpose is to remove e-coli and other bacteria from the water–in turn decreasing the amount of diarrhea in the area.
While intentions were good, we realized that the surveys could have been more culturally inclusive to make greater sense to the communities. For example, when working with Joselo (coordinator at the Rio Beni Health Foundation) to edit the surveys, we found several questions that simply would not apply. Washing machines, faucets, vehicles, and plumbing don’t exist in the communities, even though there were several questions regarding each of those. Not only were several of the questions far too privileged to make sense in the community, but select phrases and words simply did not translate correctly due to their privileged nature. For example, the surveys said “ health care provider” ( a very American thing) as opposed to medic or Doctor ( which would have made more sense). This experience made us reflect on the fact that we were too focused on data collection and did not pay great enough attention to the daily lives of the people we were trying to reach.