A Writer Writes: Twice in the Life of Prudence Ingerman–Bolivia & Ecuador

 

In January 1961, I had been kicked out of Jefferson Nursing School in Philadelphia for “unprofessional behavior” (Singing in coffee shops with folksingers was not approved of. After I calmed down I became a volunteer teacher’s aide at the little Quaker school I had attended so that’s where I was on May 1st. All during high school, I had participated in many weekend workcamps led by David Ritchie in south Philadelphia, working with families there to paint a room in their homes. I really liked meeting people outside my Quaker world who were different and interesting so I figured that the Peace Corps experience would be like a two -year weekend workcamp adventure, and I was not disappointed. I do know that my Peace Corps application number was # 103. My brother in California applied at the end of that week and his application number was more than 1,000.

In June of 1961, I drove to Cambridge, Mass, to seek my fortune; I worked as a Nurse’s Aide at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge and on March 1, 1962, I received a very surprising call from Washington PC office to see if I would be available for training in Oklahoma starting March 16th for the first Peace Corps group (1962-64) to Bolivia. Of course, I said yes and then went into a madhouse of packing up, farewells, fingerprinting and preparing for the best adventure of my life.

In Bolivia, I surveyed a community in Tarija for its health needs. Then I helped open a hospital in a small northern community, San Borja, assisting a Bolivian doctor in 16 major operations using only Novocain and no gloves or masks. One was an emergency appendectomy on my co-worker, Peace Corps Volunteer Patty Schwartz, RN who is still quite alive in Baltimore. My last site in Bolivia was starting a school and a shoe-making shop in a leper colony – Los Negros. I was there the day Kennedy was shot.

Thirty years later, four adopted children later and 22 years on a farm in Ontario and an amicable divorce, I was accepted as a Peace Corps Volunteer to Ecuador (1992-96). My site was Tarqui – a semi-tropical village of  50 houses and five bars. I stitched up lots of drunks with no anesthesia and delivered two babies on my kitchen floor.  I made my own furniture. I also created and painted 13 health-related murals in the tiny health center, initiated cooperative gardens ( and wrote a book on this which Peace Corps used for training), facilitated workshops on infant stimulation,  led a children’s chorus of 22 voices and raised money in a  benefit concert for a beloved older woman who had fallen and needed money.

Partway through my second year the Peace Corps asked me to fill in as a Technical Trainer for the next Health project,  so I did that for no pay, and then when I completed my Peace Corps time, I trained the next group of Health volunteers ( this time for pay !!)

One Comment

Leave a comment
  • I had the great privilege to have Mrs. Ingerman as one of my teachers in the Intensive English Program at Juniata College. I still remember a lot of her teachings. I would like to talk to talk to her after 20 years. Would you be kind enough to provide her email address?

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2022. Peace Corps Worldwide.