Shoulder to Shoulder Host Visiting UK, Presenting on Local Culture

Alejandro Aguavil
Shoulder to Shoulder host Alejandro Aguavil will be visiting UK for the first time on Thursday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 23, 2017)Shoulder to Shoulder Global, based at the University of Kentucky International Center, has been traveling to Santo Domingo, Ecuador for 15 years to provide medical care for impoverished communities. On Aug. 24, Shoulder to Shoulder's Alejandro Aguavil, who hosts UK students, staff and faculty at the indigenous communities during the brigades, will be visiting UK for the first time.

Students and faculty from the UK Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Dentistry, Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health participate with community partners in four medical outreach programs each year to provide comprehensive care for Aguavil and other area residents. Additionally, the organization sustains a year-round clinic, Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in May 2017.

As a member of an indigenous group within Ecuador, Aguavil’s mission is to sample life in Kentucky, including visits to a campus cafeteria and a tour of UK’s campus. During his visit, he will conduct a cultural presentation at 12:10 p.m. in the UK College of Pharmacy, room 124, followed by a ritual cleansing ceremony in the atrium at 1 p.m. Both events are open to the public.

Aguavil is a cultural leader in the community of Los Naranjos, located in a rural canton of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Ecuador. His first language, and those of his people, is Tsafiki. There are eight small Tsáchila communities in Ecuador with a total population estimated to be 2,000.  

Clay Martin, a returned Peace Corps volunteer, lived with the Tsáchila community for two and a half years. He helped teach Aguavil Spanish. Martin will accompany Aguavil, acting as an interpreter.

Shoulder to Shoulder Global (STSG) is a UK Global Health Initiatives organization that integrates academic and community partners to improve the health and wellbeing of an underserved community in Santo Domingo, Ecuador, as well as India. STSG aims to have a long-term sustainable relationship with the communities where it works. This opens possibilities for continuity of care, health promotion and disease prevention.  

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue