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ss triple helix - summer 2014,  Guinea Pig for Breakfast

Guinea Pig for Breakfast

A Rich Tapestry of Tragedy, Hope and Love in Ecuador
Andrea Gardiner
Grosvenor House, 2012, £8.99, Pb 305pp, ISBN 9781781485804
Reviewed by Huw Morgan, retired GP and medical missionary

This is the story of a young British Christian GP who set up a village clinic and child sponsorship scheme in Ecuador, following a visit there as a teenager when she was moved by the poverty and lack of access to medical facilities of many rural people. She describes first hand her struggles with the local bureaucracy, with cultural adjustment, loneliness and coping with life in a very different climate.

Anyone who has worked in a primary care setting in a resourcepoor country will identify with the daily pressure to prescribe antibiotics and vitamin injections inappropriately, as well as the requests to give false sickness certificates. The author is honest about her struggles, questions and failings, and her patient stories clearly illustrate the suffering resulting from poverty and injustice.

The book is written almost as extracts from a daily diary, and this reviewer found himself asking many questions that are never answered (Was she with a mission agency? Did she have any crosscultural briefing prior to going? What was her relationship with the local church?). However it is an easy to read and moving account which would be helpful for any doctor planning to work in rural South America, and the author's faith and compassion shine through.

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