By Linda McFarlin
Directing a rehabilitation clinic in Cotacachi, Ecuador, was not Marcelo Pinto’s original career choice.
For 13 years, Marcelo, a Cotacachi resident, had a very lucrative job as a financial consultant in Ibarra, a city of about 100,000 in northern Ecuador. His salary provided many extras for his family.
But along with this job came so much stress, pressure and anxiety that Marcelo became increasingly nervous and prone to illness. Ibarra was about 45 minutes away from most of his family. He spent long hours driving back and forth to Ibarra when he wasn’t working in order to spend time with his family, parents and other relatives.
At the age of 32 he made a decision that resulted in a huge change in his life and the lives of his family. He quit his job and took a new job in May, 2007, as the administrator of Sol de Vida, a health and rehabilitation clinic in Cotacachi.
In his own words, “I came back to Cotacachi for personal reasons. I made a change that was not very good financially, but this new job has been a great investment in my professional and personal life.”
According to Marcelo, the stress is gone. “I am tranquil. My vision has improved. In helping the people of Cotacachi, I have found more happiness for myself.”
His primary roles at Sol de Vida are to evaluate new projects, come up with more new projects, and to implement the three new projects now underway, which are the following:
1. Construct a new hospital in the town of Apuela.
2. Build a small clinic for basic health services in Intag.
3. Make Cotacachi free of infant nutritional problems in the next two years.
In the last four months, from September to December, 2007, three casas de salud (houses of health) have been built to receive children with nutritional problems in Intag. Next year there will be more direct participation in schools throughout the canton, led by Jorge Pazmino, director of nutrition at Sol de Vida.
But Marcelo has another goal as well, his personal mission: to make Sol de Vida self-sustainable and solvent, so “We don’t have to ask for money any more.”
The Sol de Vida rehabilitation clinic is a non-profit organization. The income generated covers the costs of the building and doctors’ salaries, but there is not enough income to cover all operational costs. Marcelo asked the municipio (municipal government) for help and they made up the difference for equipment costs only. Nothing was given for many of the center’s expenses.
With his professional background in finances, Marcelo is dedicated to finding ways to make Sol de Vida self-supporting. His plan includes raising the price for treatments at the rehabilitation clinic, which is now only $2. He will also add additional services such as psychology, more physical therapy, music therapy, aromatherapy, exercise and speech therapy.
He has opened the rehabilitation clinic’s pool, sauna and exercise room to the public for a small fee on a sliding scale.
The last administrator was a doctor, with no background in finance. There was little money for extras, even upkeep of the grounds. When Marcelo took over, the grass was brown and many of the plantings had died. He is busy replanting.
He told us, “The team here is young and all have a vision to improve life and health. I show them the path and they come behind me. They are very enthusiastic. Here we have opened the door for total health. We are willing to talk to anyone who can help support us or has ideas we can implement.”
As we sat talking to Marcelo in his office. a man walked by, limping slightly, on his way to the treatment area. Marcelo grinned broadly and told us that the man is one of their success stories. “When he first came for treatment, he was confined to a wheelchair. Now he is able to walk on his own!”
“For years my life was about working with dollars and numbers. This year, I am working with my heart. My reward comes from seeing people treated and helped.”
If you would like to support Sol de Vida rehabilitation clinic in any way, please click here. In addition to monetary support, the clinic welcomes volunteers, both professional and non-professional, who would like to help. Anyone with expertise in any kind of healing profession, alternative, natural, or modern, who would like to conduct treatments, trainings or programs, please contact Sol de Vida Health and Rehabilitation Clinic through our website.