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Karis Barret and Sarah Simko collectively raised $1,646 in their 50:50 campaigns. Here is what they had to say about how they ran successful campaigns and their experience on their trips!
Why did you decide to do a 50:50 campaign?
Karis: To make a difference , even a little difference and try and raise as much money as I could. It also helped with trip fare, which was nice.
Sarah: That was the same way that I found out about it. I found out about it right after I signed up to go on the trip to Peru. And I thought it was a really great way to help contribute to MEDLIFE and the clinics financially.
Karis: I signed up last minute, so about two weeks. I sent it out to friends and family and asked them to send it to there friends and managed to have some people donate. If I had started earlier, it would have been easier to get more money but I did what I could with the time I had.
Sarah: I also signed up for the trip last minute. It took about two weeks to raise the money. I wrote support emails and sent them out to family and friends letting them know about the trip and how their money can make an impact on the people I would be working with in Peru.
What obstacles did you overcome fundraising?
Karis: I’m from Canada, so lots of people didn’t realize it was going to be in American dollars. I also had a lot of family members not know how to use paypal. Some times they just got another family member to send money over paypal and gave them cash. Also, people just gave a little bit less because of the exchange rate, which is terrible right now.
Sarah: The paypal issue was my only obstacle. That was an issue for some family members.
Karis: Especially the older ones, they just wanted to put in a credit card. What’s this paypal thing?
Sarah: They would call and ask, "How does it work? Can I just not do that, can I just send you money?" … No!
How do you feel about the money you raised and the impact you made?
Sarah: The most memorable part of the trip was being able work one on one with people. And just seeing how loving and grateful they were towards us just made me want to do this more and I felt really good that I was able to raise some money to contribute to the healthcare they needed.
Karis: The most memorable part for me was seeing how grateful everyone was. And seeing how much it was needed just really reinforced why we are doing this. And made me feel better about raising the money that I did and helping buy supplies.
What would you do differently next time?
Karis: Start earlier!
Sarah: Start earlier than I did and send it to more people!
The aging population is a worldwide issue that many countries are struggling to deal with. Elderly patients who are suffering from rapidly deteriorating health issues form a large percentage of the MEDLIFE follow-up patient list. In much of the developed world, residential homes guarantee the amenity, stability and care people need in their old age. However, this is not a comfort that impoverished families in the slums of Lima can afford. In Peru, the leading causes of death among people over 65 are untreated infections, influenza and pneumonia. More often than not, these deaths come about due to neglect and isolation suffered by elderly patients who are unable to access the healthcare they require.
It can be easy to overlook these patients as their suffering is often less shocking as it is something people are familiar with all over the world. Aging is, after all, a natural process that happens to everyone and is always difficult to face. However, the real issue here is the condition the patients have to endure as a result of their poverty. Without any real pension, medication and therapy cannot be paid for and so these patients become resigned to spending weeks at a time alone in their rooms. Rooms without windows, corrugated iron roofs that let in all the elements and lumpy mattresses that cause discomfort and bed sores. For these patients, sitting outside and feeling the sun on their faces is a rarity.
Ediberta Malpartida and Eulogio Orcottma Cardenas are examples of this suffering. Aged 88 and 79 respectively, both have been MEDLIFE patients for over a year and both have spent almost the entirety of that time in isolation. Jimena Torres, who lives with Edilberta, explained how “she doesn’t walk for fear of falling over; she can’t bathe herself, she can’t cook for herself, she can’t do anything on her own.”
Being immobilized and bedridden often then leads to other health issues. Lack of movement and basic exercises can result in muscle deterioration and infections. Whereas in developed countries, these conditions are relatively easy to recover from, here in Peru it is not so simple. Hospitals are often only a short bus ride away, but taking that journey can cost up to s/3.50 which is an expense many are unable to pay. Furthermore, once at the hospital, it is unlikely treatment will be given straight away thus incurring the need for more travel. This means more money wasted and more tiresome journeys that these patients struggle to make.
Eulogio has been bedridden since arriving at his son’s house in Lima last year. He suffers from arthritis and bladder obstruction and more recently has been losing sensation in his left side. MEDLIFE has been providing him with medication and medical visits and is now funding therapy to help him regain his mobility.
One of the most important processes for the elderly is to keep up basic exercise and movement. Having a walker to enable travel around the house or a wheelchair for outside access can make all the difference to these people. Furthermore, doctors visits and therapy sessions are crucial to keep track of a patient's progress and make sure they are not deteriorating or becoming isolated. MEDLIFE is keen to invest in therapy and equipment that can enable patients to take part in much needed exercises to strengthen their muscles and rebuild their health. Such equipment is often cheap to buy for the charity and can provide significant improvements to the quality of life of the patients.
Following the support given by MEDLIFE, both Eulogio and Ediberta are in much better health compared with last year though their treatments have been very simple. As of January, following an MRI scan Eulogio has been put into a rehabilitation therapy programme in his home supported by MEDLIFE. He is being given painkillers and MEDLIFE are now trying to get him therapy sessions at Hospital de la Humanidad, which is at the bottom of his street, now he is able to get there. Ediberta is being given the medication she needs to make her more comfortable and make the living situation easier for the friends taking care of her.
Old age is never easy to confront, least of all for the elderly. However, even a little bit more comfort and mobility can make a world of difference. For patients like Ediberta and Eulogio, just having medication to stop them from being in constant pain getting the therapy they need to be able to move from their beds can improve their quality of life. With such a vast number of MEDLIFE follow up patients being over the age of 65, it is hugely important that we are able to fund the support these people need to live normal and healthy lives.
Isaí Cañi Basillo is 4 years old and lives with his parents and two brothers in the district of Villa Maria del Triunfo in Lima. Isaí has a cleft palate and suffers from Apert syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by the premature fusing together of skull bones, fingers and toes during pregnancy. A cleft palate can cause problems with speaking and feeding, whilst Apert syndrome can lead to impeded movement and slowed intellectual development. Before Isaí’s birth, his parents had recently settled in a new house in Villa Maria del Triunfo to enable them to work, be close to their parents and start a family of their own. When his mother, Maria, was pregnant with Isaí she was told all was ok and he was going to be a healthy child like his elder brother. It wasn’t until Maria was approaching her due date that she was warned there may be some abnormalities with the pregnancy.
Following Isaí’s birth, it became clear that he was suffering; his hands and feet were webbed and there were some abnormalities also with the structure of his skull and face. Isaí spent his first few months in a children's hospital where he was given the medication and treatment necessary for his condition. He was then treated at another hospital for a year where he was diagnosed with sindactilia- the webbing of hands and feet, related to Apert syndrome. Maria told us of the struggle her son’s condition created for her:
“From the moment I first held my child I knew he was a gift from God. However, it was also a shock for me. I was thankful to God for the child I had been given but I was also worried that people would be embarrassed about him and the way he looked”. Maria described how she would love for Isaí to be able to have the same movement and freedoms as his brothers which is what an operation would allow. However, she also told us how she worries as she sees Isaí growing and knows what treatment he needs, but her and her husband cannot afford to pay for it. “All I want is my son and I want to be able to give him the movement and independence that I have and that his brothers all have”.
After meeting Isaí and his mum at a mobile clinic last April, MEDLIFE funded Isaí’s first surgery on his cleft palate and everything went well. Isaí’s feeding and speaking processes have improved and he has even started going to school. He has another appointment with our doctors scheduled for July and if all goes well he may have his next surgery for the palate as early as August. After the second surgery, Isaí will need to wait one year before he can have the operation for Apert syndrome which will allow the webbing of his hands and feet to be fixed to enable improved movement. If the surgery goes well it will lead to a new start for Isaí and his family, who will no longer be restricted by his disability. It will also allow his mother’s wish of giving him the same movement and freedoms as his brothers to become a reality.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I discovered MEDLIFE at my school’s club fair at the beginning of Freshman year. I was an active member of our chapter throughout my first semester and decided to attend my first Mobile Clinic in Cusco, Peru over the following winter break. Experiencing my first Mobile Clinic instilled in me a fervent passion for global health that continues to drive many of my endeavors today.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born and raised in the borough of Queens in New York City. I am a drummer and I enjoy creating and listening to music. A non-work goal of mine during my stay in Lima is to become proficient at dancing salsa. I love traveling, going to New York Mets games and watching Game of Thrones. I aspire to become a medical doctor working in global health. I have the hearing ability of a 75-year-old former jackhammer operator.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: To say I was changed by my first Mobile Clinic would be a vast understatement. I gained a new global perspective that drastically altered my entire college career and will likely affect my path in medicine. After attending my first MEDLIFE trip, I became significantly more involved with my chapter and went on to be elected as chapter President for my Sophomore year. Subsequent to completing my first semester as chapter President and attending a second Mobile Clinic in Lima, I realized that serving as an E-Board member and attending trips simply was not enough for me. I had finally found an organization whose mission and operations I fell in love with, and I wanted to dedicate more of my life to furthering its extraordinary initiative.
What was your first impression of Lima?: Surprisingly, it reminded me of home! From the diverse seasonal weather to the taxi drivers who have seemingly no regard for pedestrian safety, it reminded me of the hustle and bustle of New York City. My enamored state was soon brought to a halt as I learned more about the socio-political divide plaguing Lima. I was heartbroken upon seeing and conducting more research on Lima’s poorest communities and the infamous “Wall of Shame.” After undergoing such eye opening experiences and realizing that I had the platform to help make a difference, I was compelled to return to Lima in the summer and make a greater contribution to the MEDLIFE movement.
What are your goals for this internship?: I look forward to gaining a more comprehensive understanding of global health and where I belong in the field. After my experiences with MEDLIFE to this point, I cannot imagine excluding global medical and developmental initiatives from my professional life. I hope to have the opportunity to practice medicine in developing regions around the world.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: In September 2015, I noticed the MEDLIFE information stand at my university club fair. I had a friend who had volunteered at a Mobile Clinic in Lima before, and she would always tell me what an amazing and different experience she had working alongside other students and staff with common motivations. I decided to take a risk, join the MEDLIFE community and be actively involved as much as I could to gain a better understanding of health care in developing countries and to learn about different cultures. I found myself opening my eyes to the broad spectrum of opportunity and optimism shared by MEDLIFE and its participants and could not wait to become a part of the team in action. Now, here I am in Peru, ready to start and never stop.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am an outgoing and spontaneous university student trying to figure out her life and what she would like to do. However, as of right now, I reside in Canada, I am of Egyptian background and I love to help people. I love to teach, learn, laugh and I know that I would like to become an oral surgeon - I believe in smiles. You are most likely to find me trying to brush the tangles out of my frizzy hair, taking pictures, drinking tea at a new hidden cafe discovered online, eating ridiculous amounts of sushi or indoor rock climbing.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I decided to become an intern with MEDLIFE because I knew that my long-term goal was to be involved in the medical field, and more specifically, I knew that working with an NGO that provides healthcare in developing countries would help me solidify this goal. One of my greatest past times is photo editing and capturing moments that I would love to remember forever. Sharing memories and promoting global awareness among my family and friends has always been important to me, so I decided that spending my summer as a Communications Social Media Intern with MEDLIFE would be amazing and that I would definitely learn so much!
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was that it was so awake and lively at night! I arrived very late and was surprised to see the entire city still lit up and alive! I also fell in love with the light heartedness of the locals and the colourful architecture. I´ve also learnt to appreciate the one and a half days of sunshine that appears in Lima, per week.
What are your goals for this internship?: Throughout my internship, I hope to be able to broaden my understanding of global health and awareness, contribute to the communities in need, learn some Spanish and successfully portray the face of MEDLIFE through my social media contributions. I plan to leave with an accurate vision of what goes on in Lima in order to project this same perspective onto people back home. I hope to be able to make connections with other fellow interns and to inspire, teach and encourage others to become actively involved with MEDLIFE as well! Oh, and I hope to be able to successfully cross the road to the grocery store without looking like a foreigner running for her life.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I was browsing the Internet looking for internships for the summer when I stumbled across MEDLIFE's page.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am a rising senior at the University of Southern California (Fight On!), but raised in Cambridge England. My spirit animal is a giraffe, specifically the tea-drinking species. I’m pretty tall, incredibly clumsy and have super long legs. In my spare time I drink and blog about tea; just imagine a giraffe with a top hat, sipping tea and exploring the world – that is me.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: MEDLIFE’s mission and sustainable practices are what ultimately drew me to the internship. Every nonprofit is unique, and I wanted an opportunity to learn more about what makes MEDLIFE different and what they plan to continue in the future. Interning at MEDLIFE will allow me to see firsthand the intersection between global public heath and community development and whether or not I would like to pursue something like this in the future. “Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have”. - Margaret Mead
What was your first impression of Lima?: Lima is loud, bustling and diverse. From the terrain to the food, there’s a lot to explore. Also, each time you attempt to cross the road will be a near death experience.
What are your goals for this internship?: To come away with a more holistic view of the global public health sector, and the social justice issues that are currently happening in Peru. To fully understand communicate MEDLIFE’s mission both passionately and effectively. To have a renewed sense of understanding of how the interconnectedness of social issues is both of benefit and hindrance in closing the inequality gap. To gain transferrable skills, which I can use both when I return home and beyond.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: To tell the truth, I was not actually involved with MEDLIFE in any way, shape, or form before this internship. One of my friends from school shared their experiences at a Mobile Clinic on facebook and said that it was a life changing experience. I decided to do a little more research, and, once on the MEDLIFE website, I found out that I could apply for an internship. I was already on the website, so I figured, why not? Small things, like a facebook post, can lead to significant changes in one's life. Now, I have the opportunity to travel, immerse myself in different cultures, and be a part of something that really makes a difference, all because of a facebook post. Also, I will be joining McMaster’s MEDLIFE chapter as an Expansion Officer next year and I am excited to continue my journey with MEDLIFE after this internship.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in India and my family moved around quite a bit before we finally settled in Canada. I just finished my first year at McMaster University in the Health Sciences program and am planning on specializing in global health next year. I love reading, and am one of the very few people who actually signs books out at my school library (I don't know why it's called a library if nobody reads any of the books in it). I almost exclusively listen to hip-hop, but have recently tried to expand my musical taste and have started listening to a little bit of reggae and jazz. An interesting fact about me is that I played the trombone in middle school, but I almost never practiced. During class, I would just pretend that I was playing and my music teacher, Mr. Kershaw, never realized that I didn't actually know how to play any of the songs. Unfortunately, after a year and a half, I got caught and I got kicked out of the band. All good things come to an end. Another thing about me is that I love asking questions, and those who know me know that I do not shy away from saying what’s on my mind. This can be both a gift and a curse, and I am still figuring out how to deal with this side of my personality.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I think that this internship is an excellent way for me to expand my horizons, meet new people, and help an organization which truly embodies my core values. I believe that we, as human beings, have the responsibility to love one another and help each other as much as we can. I think that there is more that unites us than separates us, and I believe that MEDLIFE is an organization that truly represents these beliefs. Being a MEDLIFE intern is definitely going to help me learn a lot about myself, and will allow me to hone some very important skills. Apart from allowing me to contribute to sustainable development and Mobile Clinics, I think that this internship will arm me with the tools and information I need, to make an impact in McMaster’s MEDLIFE chapter. I hope that I can apply the skills I acquire through this internship into my local community, so that I can be a part of a positive change.
What was your first impression of Lima?: Traffic. Honking. Shouting. Confusion. Everything in Lima moves so quickly, and there is so much to see. Going somewhere you have never been is always exciting, and I am trying to soak all of it up as much as I can. It’s the little details that make a city what it is, and it’s very important to pick up on these little details. Initially, going out to buy groceries or getting the laundry done was a little daunting, but as I am getting to know the city and the language a little better, I am becoming more comfortable with it. I am very excited to continue learning about Lima and (hopefully) getting a little better at Spanish.
What are your goals for this internship?: My biggest goal for this internship is to explore. I want to see as much as I can, and I want to meet as many people as I can. I also want to contribute to the communities in Lima and make as big of an impact as I can. I hope that my time here will not only allow me to help MEDLIFE and the local communities, but will also push me to acquire new skills and will give me the opportunity for self-development.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I became involved with the MEDLIFE chapter at my university as a college freshman in 2013. Throughout my first semester in school, I was introduced to the MEDLIFE mission and I was drawn to it immediately. It was clear how much of an impact this organization was making globally, and I wanted to be a part of it! It was not long before I packed my bags and headed for Esmeraldas, Ecuador for my first Mobile Clinic.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in Medellin, Colombia where lived until I was four. In the year 2000, my family immigrated to the United States in hopes of a better future and a chance at an education for my sister and I. Now, 16 years later, I will be going into my last year of undergrad this August and I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies soon after. I enjoy traveling and learning about other cultures and their beliefs. My passion for equal access to health and education for all individuals has pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowing me explore these human rights in a variety of different countries. Oh, if I’m not traveling, studying or being a homebody, you can usually find me eating. I LOVE food and chocolate, too!
Why did you decide to become an intern?: As a MEDLIFE volunteer I was able to learn a lot about how the clinics were run. After hearing so many stories from the patients and their families, I could not help but to wonder “what now?”. I knew that as a MEDPrograms intern I would be able to finally answer this question by visiting patients alongside the doctors and nurses and participate in MEDLIFE follow-up service visits. I knew that interning for MEDLIFE would be such a wonderful opportunity because we all share one common goal, and that is to ensure that medicine, education and development are perceived as human rights.
What was your first impression of Lima?: When I first arrived in Lima all I could think was “Finally I can escape the Florida heat!”
What are your goals for this internship?: This summer I hope to get a lot of field experience which will allow for me to understand the role that MEDLIFE plays in the patients journey towards a healthier future. On a more personal note, I know that this internship will allow me the opportunity to grow as an individual. I want to absorb all that I learn throughout my time here in Lima in order to return home and share with my friends, family and university chapter the impact that MEDLIFE had not only on the patients, but on myself as well!
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I got involved with MEDLIFE during my freshman year of college when our chapter president visited my class to talk about an upcoming trip to Ecuador. I’d wanted to get involved in an organization like MEDLIFE and to take a trip like this one for quite some time, so I signed up the next day. After an amazing experience in Ecuador, I applied for executive board and served on the fundraising team and as fundraising chair for the following two semesters. This next year I will serve as Mobile Clinics officer for our chapter.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I grew up in a northern suburb of Dallas, Texas, and went out of state to KU to study psychology. I am very interested in research in the psychology field and plan to continue on into a PhD program to study to become a clinical psychologist. I also love Spanish, art (primarily painting), plants, and traveling to new places. I have been involved in a variety of service projects and love to serve others.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: To get a more hands-on experience with MEDLIFE and to learn about what goes on behind the scenes, to bring back knowledge that will help our chapter thrive, to gain a global perspective, and more generally because MEDLIFE’s mission is something that is close to my heart. Being an intern has been a goal of mine since my first MEDLIFE trip. Volunteering is an incredible experience, but I chose this internship so that I could do summer-long work to bring much needed resources to areas experiencing poverty in the field while helping to improve the program from the office.
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression was “I can’t wait to explore!”. There are always people walking around this busy city and there is plenty to do. And the food is great, which is always a plus. I hope I have time to see all the sights in this lively city.
What are your goals for this internship?: As much as I want to say my goal is to make a difference, I know that real change takes time, so my goal is to be a part of that positive change. I also hope to learn the language and about Peruvian culture.
Name: Thomas O’Neill
Hometown: Bradford, UK.
School: University of the West of England
Major: Politics & International Relations
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I actually stumbled across an advertisement for the MEDLIFE Film & Photography internship whilst scrolling down my Facebook news feed earlier this year. Upon doing some additional research into the goals and values of MEDLIFE I decided to apply, never expecting to actually get shortlisted for an interview. Two skype interviews later I was offered the internship and, before I knew it, found myself flying out to Lima for the summer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I have a passion for filmmaking and video journalism. I enjoy most sports and love travelling. Back home I have a dog called Miko and a cat called Tibbs, both of whom are very mischievous.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: Pursuing a degree in Politics & International Relations has enabled me to study the world in a lot more depth than I previoiusly have at any point in my life, since the suffering of those elsewhere in the world due to poverty is often a main topic of discussion in both lectures and seminars. Because of this, I have developed a strong interest in the work of non-profit organizations in general, as well as in the deeper social and economic issues at play throughout the communities in need of such assistance. Having been brought up in the UK with access to good health care and education, I feel somewhat obliged to do what I can to help people without similar access to such services. After all, no one chooses to be born into poverty. An internship at MEDLIFE is, therefore, the perfect opportunity to do something worthwhile for the impoverished communities here in Peru whilst also gaining valuable experience in a field I may well want to pursue a career in, upon graduating from university.
What was your first impression of Lima?: Strange, chaotic and exciting are all words that immediately spring to mind. The crazy taxi ride to the intern house from the airport in Lima was an experience I will never forget. I remember feeling a real sense of adventure, a feeling I hadn't had since setting off to travel around South East Asia back in January 2014. So far, the Peruvian people have been very friendly, the food has been great and the weather has not too bad either!
What are your goals for this internship?: To combine the knowledge and skills I have gained throughout my university studies with the experience I have in Film & Photography to raise awareness of the MEDLIFE mission and to benefit the communities that MEDLIFE is here to help. I can only hope that the photos and videos I'll create during my time here will truly represent the values of the organization, hopefully inspire other interns to get involved, help MEDLIFE to further expand and continue to help the communities that need it the most.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE?: As a languages student I am forced to spend a year of my uni course living abroad, experiencing the culture and eating the food of the countries that speak the languages I am learning- it’s a tough life. I found out about MEDLIFE as I knew I wanted to do something to do with media in South America and was also keen to get the opportunity to work with an NGO. MEDLIFE fitted in suspiciously well with all that I wanted to do and so I immediately applied for the position of journalism intern and was ecstatic when I was told I’d got it!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: As one of 3 Brits living in the MEDLIFE house at the moment I have been keen to keep up the stereotype by drinking copious amounts of tea, not understanding people when they talk about their ‘schools’, ‘elevators’ and ‘cilantro’ and speaking with a weird accent. My experience in Lima so far has been different to any experience I have had before but I am loving every minute.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: The description of the Media internships here sounded almost too good to be true and for some reason I have been surprised to find out that the actual job is even better than what was described. It is amazing to be able to do something that I enjoy so much and that enables me to learn so much and still holds benefit for the community I am working with!
What was your first impression of Lima?: Loud and very crazy. The bus system here has got to be my favorite part of the city as despite being completely mental, it somehow makes more sense than the ‘well thought out’ British system. I am also in love with the food here and have ended up having the menu of the day from a local restaurant almost every lunch time. It becomes worryingly easy to justify this kind of extravagance by thinking 11 soles is only 3 dollars which is only 2 pounds...
What are your goals for this internship?: The dream would be to become so fluent in Spanish and Peruvian culture that I get mistaken for a native by the end of my time here. However, I have been told that my blond hair may give me away so instead it looks like I am just going to have to settle for the ability to ride the buses like a local.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I first took interest in my school's chapter and became interested in attending one of the clinics. After many of my fellow students attended a clinic, I heard that they hired interns. After some research, I realized this internship opportunity was the perfect chance to combine my interests in human health, science and human rights in a unique way. I am so thankful to be given the chance to work with such a unique organization and such good people.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: My goals long term are to work in the field of public health to improve the access and quality of health care worldwide. I believe that health should be a human right, and plan to work towards that in the years to come. My hope one day is that everyone has the equal opportunity to have good health. Other than that, I love to read, eat food and hang out with my family and two amazing dogs.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I decided to become an intern because with such a different and growing non-profit organization like MEDLIFE, I knew that my voice and opinions would be able to be heard. Because of this, I knew that I could actually make a difference in the community. Also, I wanted the chance to grow and experience first hand the work in the public health field. I strongly believe in MEDLIFE's mission to improve quality of life through medicine, education and development and hope to be a part of their success.
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was that the driving here is insane, and, I don't think that this will ever seize to amaze me. But Lima is a wonderful, huge and diverse city full of culture and liveness. I was amazed at how modern and metropolitan the city really was.
What are your goals for this internship?: My goal is to be able to expand my knowledge and perspective on global health, access to health care and quality of health care delivery. Additionally, I hope to leave Peru and MEDLIFE with something that will continue to enhance the experience of those who attend the clinics, both for volunteers and patients.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: One of the first friends I made when heading off to college was a member of the Executive Board who heard me explaining how I wanted to get involved abroad and participate in some sort of medical mission trip. He then told me about a Mobile Clinic trip to Lima that was leaving right after my first semester. Without much persuasion I signed up for a trip and came to Peru without knowing much about what MEDLIFE was really about or what kind of reality many people around the world are dealing with every day. The trip really opened my eyes and started me down a path of both pursuing Public Health as well as wanting to become more involved with MEDLIFE.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was actually born in South Korea but was adopted and raised from a young age in Cincinnati. While I wouldn’t consider myself a die hard Cincinnatian like some of the other citizens, I definitely miss having Skyline and the personality of my city and its inhabitants. I’ve always loved traveling and trying new things, even if it means I have to put myself out there and get a little uncomfortable. I like to try new things and I believe everyone should be open minded about new experiences, because it’s entirely possible to fall in love with it, but also because shared experiences and education helps break down cultural barriers and build international relationships.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: Immediately after my first mobile Clinic, I knew I wanted to not only go back, but to really spend sometime abroad and learn the area, as well as have a bigger impact. One week is only a taste of what is possible with some hard work and a solid team, and I really wanted to be a part of the effort in the area and get hands on with the communities as well as being a major player in the behind the scenes work in the offices.
What was your first impression of Lima?: It seems each time I come to Lima I arrive very tired and on little sleep, so I’m always surprised by how loud and bright everything is. It’s very possible I’m just tired and grumpy, however people are much more willing to honk around here as it isn’t quite as much of an offensive action as it is just a passive gesture between drivers.
What are your goals for this internship?: For me, I really want to grow into this position. It’s my chance to get a taste of more real and practical work and gain some experience. I totally want to work on my Spanish while here and I definitely plan on acting like a local and eating some interesting cuisine. I also want to do my best to essentially bear witness to everything, soak up the feeling of something that’s very public health oriented, while also taking this chance to really see the realities that people face and beginning to ask what we can do to help these people. I really hope to take away some big ideas from this and one of my biggest desires is to be able to apply even some of this knowledge and improve upon, while also spreading some awareness in the meantime.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I was originally studying to be an engineer before deciding to make the switch to medicine. My brother, Roly, who was an intern last summer and an active member of the MEDLIFE chapter at FSU, encouraged me to become a part of the chapter at my school.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m starting my junior year this coming fall. Even though I am a chemistry major, I love my nutrition and sociology classes. I love to dance to almost any kind of music and signed up to take an African dancing class in the fall and just became a part of the belly dancing club in my school. If I’m not studying for an upcoming chem exam, you can find me eating (I love sweets), reading, or ‘netflixing’. I have three spirit animals: turtle, lemur, and honey badger and I love, love, love to travel and see new beautiful places and meet all kinds of people J
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I heard about the internship through my older brother and decided to look into it. On my trip to Ecuador it was mentioned to me again, and I was pretty much sold already. I decided to become an intern because I share MEDLIFE’s mission and vision. As a volunteer I learned so much about the conditions in South America and all the help we can provide, and knew that as an intern I could do so much more. Not only can I, myself, make a difference but I can help others do the same.
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was definitely that they had a very busy airport. But in terms of the rest of the city, I think Lima is beautiful! It’s so full of life and always moving. I have been to several different places in Central and South America and, to me, it’s so impressive how each region can have its own personality and its own story. I’m not too familiar with the area yet, but I look forward to discovering all that it has to offer and leave my mark on this city.
What are your goals for this internship?: My goals for this internship manifest on personal and professional levels. Personally, I want to grow as a person in my ideas and goals for the future. When I finish studying, I hope to be a doctor and I hope that this internship will further help me realize that I am on the right path and that I’m doing something that I love. I also hope to meet new people, in the other interns and MEDLIFE staff as well as locals, and hopefully make friends for life.
At this end of this internship I hope to gain skills that will benefit me professionally, such as public speaking skills and just getting used to working in an office setting. Finally, I hope to bring back knowledge to my chapter at the University of Florida and further develop it. It’s a relatively new chapter so I hope to contribute a lot of what I learn here.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I heard about MEDLIFE through a mutual friend who had previously gone on a trip to Lima. I did not know my school had a chapter at that time and so my friend and I decided to attend a mobile clinic trip to Lima on our own the summer after my Freshman year. I left Lima with the best impression of MEDLIFE and what we stood for, which is why I wanted to attend another trip. The following summer I convinced my best friend from home to accompany me on a mobile clinic trip to Cusco. I applied for the executive board at my school and became the secretary. To continue my involvement with MEDLIFE, I looked into the internship; I would have never imagined living in Lima for a whole summer just because of going on that first mobile clinic trip.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in Brooklyn, NY but raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. My parents are from Venezuela, which is how I learned how to speak Spanish fluently. I went to a small private high school, which is what interested me in attending a larger university. Delaware seemed like the best fit because of its size and one hour distance from home. I became very involved with service in college as I joined the MEDLIFE club at my school and joined a co-ed service fraternity where I made most of my friendships. I would definitely consider myself as someone who loves to serve.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: Being on the MEDLIFE executive board at my school just did not seem like enough. I wanted to do something different, and I would consider MEDLIFE not your typical internship. I wanted this internship to allow me to explore career paths in the future and also assist me in bringing new ideas to the chapter at Delaware.
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was how beautiful the country is despite the poverty. It seemed like some areas have wealthy looking homes while others barely have a standing wall. You can see the division between both sides, where tourism is a significant factor in the city.
What are your goals for this internship?: From this internship I hope to gain experience and independence. Living in a country 3500 miles away from home for the summer is not easy, and I want this internship to allow me to grow as a person. I want to take advantage of my time here and learn as much as possible so that I have more to bring back to the states. I also want to learn more about MEDLIFE so that I can find better ways to explain the organization to people at home.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE?: Summer Internship 2016 and starting a MEDLIFE chapter at my University.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in Brazil and have lived in a couple of countries ever since. I am now studying in the Netherlands in a small liberal arts and sciences college (Leiden University College), and I guess I have come to realize that travelling, living challenges and learning through them are the fundamental parts that made me who I am today. I really enjoy volunteering and helping people (hence, I am here), as through these activities I feel incredibly rewarded and content. I have set up a couple of different projects, such as an Interact, Peace Jam group at my high school, a youth forum at the British Library and now a MEDLIFE student chapter at my University; developing new projects thrills me. As you can probably tell, I get very involved with a variety of different things, but I always try to make time for friends, as well as volleyball, theatre and, as of recent, dance. These creative and physical activities always give me the energy I need to tackle whatever is to come ahead.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I was seeking an opportunity to work at an NGO over the summer and was considering an opportunity in South America. After some time spent researching (namely on google) I found an article mentioning MEDLIFE, praising its work, and that triggered my curiosity. I went through the website and the information that was available to me at the time. MEDLIFE struck me as a unique and transparent organization; I knew that MEDLIFE was not only concerned about helping people, but doing so in ways that were significant and meaningful to the respective families (identifying and cooperating with the local community's issues). I decided to become an intern because I respected this and wanted to engage and become a meaningful part of MEDLIFE's activities during the summer.
What was your first impression of Lima?: A deceptive paradox exists in Lima during "winter": The skies are grey and the environment is urban and fast paced as any big city usually is, but there is an energy and resilience that reminds me so much of Brazil. This "paradox" however was easily explained the instance I spoke to some of the people who lived here and the Peruvian I met in the plane on my way here. The people have energy, charm; they are incredibly approachable in a very "South American way". I feel, perhaps not so surprisingly, at home; very much the same way I would feel in Brazil. I guess if I were to sum up my first impression of Lima I would say that it is a city that resembles a home; no home is perfect but it is always surprising to catch yourself growing more at ease and content to be there.
What are your goals for this internship?: My goal for this internship is to develop conections. MEDLIFE is an organization that I got to know while searching for opportunities at different NGO's as it stood out and striked me as having a conscientious and reflective approach; it has the exact approach that I wanted. Therefore, my goal is to get to know MEDLIFE even better, its dynamics, how it operates, and then hopefully bring this back home in order to develop a chapter and a link that I think will be valuable for my University and myself. Furthermore, I know that in my life I want to seek different opportunities and ways to help people, and I want to assess whether working long-term at an NGO is the right thing for me.
How I got involved with MEDLIFE?: I first got involved with MEDLIFE at the University of Vermont by joining our local chapter during my Freshman year. I went on my first brigade the summer of my freshman year to Cusco, Peru which was absolutely life changing. My Sophomore year I became Vice President and Brigades Officer for our chapter since I wanted everyone to be able to experience volunteering with MEDLIFE. The summer of my Sophomore year I then went on my second brigade to Esmeraldas, Ecuador and that is how I heard about this internship! The following year, my Junior year I became the President of our chapter at UVM and I am now a Volunteer Affairs Intern!!!
Tell us a little bit about yourself?: So my name is Ian and I go to the University of Vermont! I absolutely love it at UVM, from the picturesque campus to great group of friends I’ve made. I am a DREAM mentor for my two awesome mentees Keshon and Kiki, I volunteer at the University of Vermont Medical Center on the pediatric floor, I am the president of MEDVIDA, our local chapter of MEDLIFE, and I am a member of the UVM Triathlon club. I love being outdoors hiking, snowboarding, and camping and I am always doing something weird and spontaneous. I am excited to be a MEDLIFE Volunteer Affairs Intern and to live in Lima for the summer!
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I have decided to become an intern because I have been very involved with MEDLIFE for my past three years at the University of Vermont and being an integral part of our local chapter has helped me gain a great appreciation for MEDLIFE and the work MEDLIFE does. I support MEDLIFE and want to volunteer for MEDLIFE because I’m passionate about and support organizations that have similar missions and values as myself. This internship will allow me to achieve a better understanding of community development in the real world and gain clinical experience while working on mobile clinics.
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of lima was WOW! When I got picked up from the airport, on the way to our apartment I couldn’t stop looking out the window at the city! I can’t wait to explore it over my time as a Volunteer Affairs Intern.
What are your goals for this internship?: My goal for this internship is to connect my Biology major and Community and International Development minor through helping with the planning and implementation of sustainable community development projects that help bring medical access to vulnerable communities.
Miguel Tanguila worked hard on his platano finca near Tena in the Ecuadorian jungle to support his wife and 8 children. “We are peasants,” Tanguila said. “We don’t have much to feed ourselves with, but thank god, with platano, we can live.” Miguel can grow enough to feed his family, but he still needs more to pay for the costs of sending his kids to school. “Sometimes we plant some Naranjilla too. Which we sell to pay for the costs of our kids education.”
One day, Miguel began to experience intense stomach pain. After several days, it still hadn’t gone away, days became months and it only got worse. He wasn’t able to make the journey out to his finca anymore, two hours of walking and a river crossing. His thirteen-year-old son stopped going to school and began working in the finca full time to help make ends meet.
His family had another stroke of bad luck when his 5 year-old daughter fell and hurt her hip. She couldn’t walk anymore. “Sometimes she cries in the afternoons,” Miguel said. “It makes me feel terrible as a father.” They went to local medical centres, but they could not get adequate treatment, just temporary relief. Their problems persisted.
In 2016 MEDLIFE met Miguel in a Mobile Clinic and brought him and his daughter to see the proper medical specialists. MEDLIFE will continue to work with them until they get the proper treatment. “Thank God the foundation came to our community,” Miguel said. “We are really thankful for the support.”
Marangu is a lush green rural Tanzanian town tucked in the shadows of the mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro. Residents walk its unpaved roads with loads of produce in tow, shouting “jambo” (hello in Swahili) to passersby on the way to sell off whatever surplus they may have of maize, coffee, plantains, avocadoes, or mangoes, the economic mainstays of the community. The trip is long to get to the market or hospital, several kilometres of walking and then hitching a ride on the public bus. In the rainy seasons, monsoons pound the roads into sludge and a 4x4 is necessary to gain access to the town.
When MEDLIFE visited for a 2016 Mobile Clinic, we found little infrastructure, and what did exist was in a state of dilapidation and disrepair. Modern bathrooms had been constructed at the local primary school by another NGO, but they had neglected to follow up with the community. The plumbing was not functioning, and no one in the community had the resources to bring in a plumber. As a result, the bathrooms had sat and festered, unused.
Many of the houses were very poorly constructed and offered little shelter from monsoons. One particularly dismal case was brought to our attention when during a mobile clinic, an 84 year-old woman wrapped in colorful cloth came in named Elianasia and asked us for help with her bathroom.
MEDprograms Associate Amber Pariona was on clinic that day and followed her through the jungle to see her bathroom. It was hard for Elianasia to walk so far, her leg was causing her pain. She lived all alone, all of her children had gone seperate ways and were not caring for her. Her husband died tragically in 1962. When Amber saw the rest of her house, she was surprised she was only asking for a bathroom.
Her kitchen was a fireplace sheltered by some wood poles and tattered rags, the bathroom was a hole in the ground covered by a small wooden board, which was being slowly devoured by ants and appeared it may collapse into the hole next time it was used. She did not have a room anywhere that could provide shelter from the rain. During monsoon season, she slept on a wet bed and tried to cook in the rain.
Before Amber left, Elianasia spit into her hand and rubbed it on Amber's forehead as a way of giving her a blessing. Elianasia left a strong impression on Amber, whom she remembers for having the best laugh in the world; high energy and contagious despite her circumstances.
After visiting Marangu, and meeting community leaders, MEDLIFE decided to do several projects in the community. MEDLIFE is going to bring in a plumber to fix the bathrooms at the local school, as well as construct offices for the teachers there so they have a space to work. Finally MEDLIFE is going to construct a new home for Elianasia, who deserves to live in a comfortable and safe home.
"I will be very happy if you can provide for me a house where I can stay," said Elianasia. "I am praying for you, so that god may bless you in everything that you do, thank you very much."
Thank you to GoodLife Travels for donating the money MEDLIFE needs for these projects! GoodLife Travels is a travel agency that donates at least 5% of all profits to MEDLIFE to make projects like this possible.
Olga doesn’t like to leave hear house, she prefers to hide in bed, where no one can see her. “I’ve been hiding my whole life,” she says. But she can only hide for so long until the obligations of motherhood, of day to day survival, trips to the market, picking crops on her farm, or to get her children from school, force her into the harsh light of day.
Vergüenza, that is the hardest part for Olga, not pain but shame.
She carries it on her neck, it swells and throbs. A weight that bows her head, dressing her neck in a veil of dark hair to protect it from the sharp gaze of others.
She is losing weight, her hair has begun to fall out, leaving her with one less thing to hide behind, naked. All the while the mass continues to grow.
She first noticed it when she was fifteen, just a girl, working as a live-in servant in the capital city of Quito. It came in just below her ear, subtle at first; a sensation of pressure, taut skin.
Until she could no longer look at herself nor anyone at her without seeing it, until it hurt to move her head and stung to be looked at. It wasn’t just the stares that drove her into hiding but the questions.
“What is that ball on your face?”
“Why do you leave it there?”
“Why haven’t you healed that thing?”
“Go to a doctor,” went a daily deluge of reactionary comments.
Didn’t they understand that she was poor? That her resources were already stretched thin? After all, they lived in the same impoverished farming community in the Ecuadorian jungle that she did.
And she had gone to a doctor, had even gotten surgery once, but the mass came back. More tests, more doctors, but now she was older, she had her kids to care for, she couldn’t afford it.
She cannot hide forever.
She has to meet with her son’s teachers at school; today this, tomorrow, something else. So she puts on her hat, lowers her gaze and pulls her hair down over it, and bracing herself. Even if she is lucky, even if the stares and questions don’t come today, the sensation remains; an out of place mass, dull pain, an ever present shame.
MEDLIFE met Olga in a winter Mobile Clinic in Tena. It only took a quick glance to see that she needed some kind of prolonged treatment. She was quickly put into our follow up patient program. When MEDLIFE took Olga to the hospital the mass on her neck was diagnosd was Pleomorphic Adenoma, a tumour on her salivary gland. This type of tumour is typically benign, but has the potential to become malignant. MEDLIFE is committed to getting Olga the surgery she needs to get it removed. “I don’t want to live in hiding anymore,” said Olga. “That is why I am asking for your support. I want to get the surgery. I want to get cured. I don’t want to hide my face.”
We cannot do this on our own! Let's give Olga the opportunity to walk down the street, healthy, with her head held high! Please help us fund Olga's surgery donate here!
The 2015-2016 year long internship has ended, a huge thank you to all of our interns for your hard work this year! A lot was accomplished this year, and we couldn't have done it without you. MEDLIFE is having a record breaking year, we have already brought over 3000 volunteers on Mobile Clinics. In addition to helping MEDLIFE achieve growth on core goals like volunteer participation, interns brought a host of new projects and ideas including: medicinal community gardens, nutrition workshops, family planning talk and condom donations, fuel efficient stoves, sustainable water filters for families in Tanzania and more. They also collectively took on an ambitious group project and fundraised for several development projects in the community of Urucancha. Several interns have stayed with MEDLIFE as full-time staff. Those who have left will be missed. The lasting contributions to MEDLIFE as an organization and to the communities we work in from this group of interns is greatly appreciated.
When Domini Lazaro noticed a lump growing on her hand, she didn’t know what it was, but she knew enough to be concerned. She was far from medical care because she lived in a rural community called Kibohehe in the Kilomanjaro region of Tanzania. Even if she could get to a hospital with the necessary equipment to run the required tests, she couldn't pay for it. She and her husband make very little money working seasonally doing manual labor on other people's plantations. But she was still worried- what was this lump growing on her hand?
The lump grew, and she also developed a chronic UTI, adding to her physical and mental distress. She feared a terrible disease had taken hold. Eventually she came to a MEDLIFE mobile clinic, the only opportunity she had to see a doctor. She was put into follow-up care and taken to a hospital to get the tumor tested and the UTI treated. When the results came in, it was just lipoma, the most common benign form of soft-tissue tumor. Lipoma is a slow growing fatty lump situated between skin and muscle deposits. It does not lead to any serious medical complications, but MEDLIFE still had it removed.
Domini was given medicine for her UTI and discharged. She was very happy when the medicine caused the pain from the UTI to stop, because she said it had become more than she could bear. She was also given peace of mind. Domini and her husband can now rest easy and not worry that she has a serious health problem.