- About Us
- Volunteer Trips
- Where We Work
- Get Involved
The day of the Wawawasi (daycare in Quechua) inauguration in Union Santa Fe was dark and gloomy, the community appeared to be stuck inside a cloud, the air inside turned foul by the nearby animal processing factories. The bus MEDLIFE staff arrived in was parked above the community. From this vantage point, dozens of other communities could be seen in the distance, fading into the mist and dirt.
I knew I had been to some of the places I could see on other field visits, but I couldn’t tell them apart. The shanty-town’s all looked the same to me obscured in the mist from afar. Shacks, dirt paths, stray dogs and hills, the same impoverished patchwork blanketed the desert as far as I could see.
But when we approached Union Santa Fe, although I had never been, I could immediately identify it. MEDLIFE had done a lot of projects here, and the results of all that work were immediately visible on approach; a house there, red staircases leading down the hillsides on all sides and in the center the new Wawawasi project. The tall sturdy walls and clean white color it was painted cut through the mist and made it stand out against the dark muddy pallet of colours surrounding it like an apparition.
Amidst the typically bleak environs of Union Santa Fe, with the community gathering around it in celebration, it looked like a symbol of hope.
In its first weeks of operation a few months later, the Wawawasi was full of children, some laughing, some crying, all being cared for by the two full-time staff running the place. For the kids here, the center really did represent a big step leading to a better future for their families.
Quality childcare simultaneously addresses the needs of both parents and children living in poverty. The parents, many of whom are single mothers, with kids at the Wawawasi, are free to pursue more productive daytime work that would be an unsuitable environment for a child. Many of the poor in Lima walk the streets all day working in the informal economy. Can you imagine canvassing chaotic and dangerous parts of a city with a preschool aged child in tow? “The people of this community work a lot, all week.” said Maria Contreras, a caretaker at the Wawawasi. “Mothers with young children are waiting for their children to turn three so they can bring them here and get jobs.”
A lot of evidence (this article discusses and cites a lot of interesting research and is not behind a paywall) suggests that children’s long-term social and cognitive development benefits greatly from quality early childhood care (pre-school age, the Wawawasi does not accept children younger than three years old.) Numerous studies have found that quality center-type early childhood care (as opposed to informal arrangements, neighbors ect.) is associated with higher future cognitive and language scores on standardized tests, and better overall school performance. The activities and environment within the Wawawasi; arts and crafts, reading to the children, puppet shows, games and even just a social environment with other children all foster cognitive and social development.
The center also provides two nutritious meals a day to the children, breakfast and lunch. For families struggling to get the basics, not having to worry about two of your children’s meals on a work day is a huge relief.
A phrase often heard in conversation and in the speeches given at the inauguration was “seguir adelante,” which means to move forward, towards a better future for the community and children of Union Santa Fe, an idea that both community members and MEDLIFE hold dear. MEDLIFE is thrilled to have completed this project with the community of Union Santa Fe, taking another step forward with them towards a better future.
See all the photos in the timeline below!
When I think back on my first few months working with MEDLIFE, some experiences stick out more than the rest. Experiences that challenged me in new ways, or made me think about why I decided to spend a year doing this work. One of those experiences came a few weeks ago, while visiting a new patient with one of the nurses.
As Carmen, Leigh and I rose higher into the community of Pamplona in a tiny mototaxi just barely wide enough for the three of us, I wondered what our next patient visit would bring. As we arrived to the address listed on our patient form, I noticed that something about the neighborhood seemed off. Although most of the houses in the area were nicely painted and appeared to be well maintained, there was one house at the end of the lot that stood out. This house seemed to be a patchwork of whatever the owners could find: wooden boards, political signs and anything else that most people probably throw in the trash. The house had no number, but after a quick process of elimination we realized that this structure probably covered our new patients. We knocked on the lopsided wooden door, and before long a string from the inside pulled it open. Carmen, the nurse, hesitantly mentioned our patient’s name and the man responded “mi esposa,” that the woman was his wife. He said that she was at work, and offered to walk us down the street to the comedor where she spent her days cooking in exchange for food for her family. The main hobbled out of the house and led us down the street. Although he wasn’t the patient we had been called for, the man’s obvious and severely inhibiting limp made all of us wonder what this new patient was going to tell us.
He led us down the street to a staircase, and pointed to a building a little ways down the dirt road at the bottom of the stairs. He seemed to indicate that he would not be coming down the stairs with us, so we thanked him and walked over to the building. We walked up to the comedor and Carmen again mentioned our patient’s name. This time we had the right place, and a 70-something year old woman ascended the stairs from the kitchen to greet us. We were there on a follow up visit, meaning that this woman had been treated at a mobile clinic, and identified as needing more follow up care. Although she had been chosen for follow up care due to difficulties managing diabetes, the real root of her health issues were much more severe.
The woman was hesitant to give us any information at first, but she eventually opened up and launched into her true story. She began by explaining that 10 years ago her husband and her daughter had been involved in a horrible moto-taxi accident. While this explained her husband’s inability to walk normally or shake our hands, she explained that her daughter had suffered much more. The crash had left her daughter with severe brain damage which required heavy medication to accomplish even the most basic activities. Without this medication, her daughter could not get out of bed in the morning or speak more than her name. Although it allowed her to function normally, the medication sometimes caused her to have manic episodes. During one of these episodes, the daughter attacked her mother and ran away from home. Although we weren’t told how long she was gone, the mother explained that while away from home the daughter was raped and had a child. Unable to care for her child, she eventually returned home so her sister could take over raising her son.
The woman continued to recount her tragic story, struggling through tears to continue drudging up these painful memories. Her friend, the owner of the comedor, spoke up for a moment while the woman took a break to compose herself. Her friend explained that since the accident the woman and her family had been stuck in a cycle of poverty with no way of escaping. She told us how they didn’t have proper food, clothes or even a working telephone. She went on to say that the family had lost their health insurance 4 years ago, and despite their severe medical needs, no one in the family had seen a doctor since then. This is when we realized the impact we could have on this family. Carmen explained that on Monday she would walk the woman over to the next town, reinstate their health insurance and make doctors appointments for her and her daughter.
The dynamic of the situation changed right then and there. We were no longer pitying this woman who was recounting some of the darkest times of her life, but rather working with her to ensure that she didn’t have to continue living in the shadow of the accident that had so drastically affected her family. As we got up to leave, I could see that the woman’s face was different. Although I couldn’t pinpoint the change in that moment, she seemed to finally be hopeful that her situation was going to get better. She had been stuck in the cycle of poverty and desperation for so long that even this simple act of aid had given her hope. We walked away from the comedor and Carmen began to explain the story and highlight some specific parts to make sure that we understood exactly what we going on. Before long, however, we were walking down the street in silence, each one of us wrestling with that we had just heard and trying to process the intense suffering that this woman had felt.
When I am scared or nervous about a new experience, it can be easy to focus on the negative, and forget about the amazing people and opportunities in front of me. After being in Lima for almost 3 months, it was easy for me to only think about how I missed my life in the states: my family, my friends and everything I take for granted at home. This patient visit forced me to step back and realize the importance of what I am doing here. This woman had essentially given up on the healthcare system and thought that no one, not even us, could do anything to better her situation. Seeing the hope in her eyes as we left, however, made me believe in what MEDLIFE does and gave me a chance to see the real difference we can make in people’s lives. Although it can be hard at times, every once in a while something comes along that refocuses me, helps me remember why I am here, and allows me to see the real impact that our work can have on others.
In October 2015 MEDLIFE completed a security wall project in Llin-Llin, a community in the Ecuadorian Andes. The large and understaffed school was having trouble controlling the flow of students in and out of the school during the day. Many students would leave the school and not return.
This is where kids were leaving the school during the day, it took them right out onto a busy road unsupervised.
The school has many young children for whom which the new road is a serious hazard.
MEDLIFE worked hand in hand with community members to construct the wall.
After several weeks of work the wall was completed. The schools staff will now be able to make sure students stay in class learning, and that young students do not wander into the road.
Thank you to the Brown University MEDLIFE chapter for fundraising for the project!
Eulogio Orccotoma lay in bed, staring at the translucent ceiling that bled dreamy yellow light into the room. He listened to cumbia on the radio as his son, Yuri Orccotoma Gomez, brought him breakfast, which Yuri dutifully did every morning before heading out to work in his moto taxi. Eulogio was bored. He was bored because he had lain in this bed for nearly a year waiting.
He was bored because he had left his land in the Peruvian Andes outside of Cusco that he had worked his entire life. He had left the freedom of that land, with its blue skies, where you walk or ride a horse instead of drive, with its fresh air, peace and quiet. He left all that come to the ironically named Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), one of the poorest and most undeveloped districts in Lima, with its grey skies, its polluted air, and its harsh soundscape of barking stray dogs, honking horns, and blaring Latin music. Desert dirt and sand mixed with dilapidated urban decay. Eulogio had gone from being a free farmer in the Andes to a dependent patient trapped in a waiting room for a year- he wasn’t happy about it.
Yuri had come here in search of better work opportunities, and a respite from what he saw as a boring life in an Andean pueblito. Eulogio had come with him years later in hopes of getting good medical treatment, but one year later, he was still lying in bed waiting. After a year of waiting on the public health system, Eulogio had still not been able to start any treatment.
Eulogio lived his life working the land in the same Andean pueblito his parents did. He raised his kids there, all of whom left to seek better opportunities elsewhere, some in Cusco, only a few hours away, or in Lima, like Yuri.
Eulogio’s kids left, then his wife passed away and he was all alone. His kids tried to get him to come to the city with them, but he refused. His children made sure someone visited him every month.
They noticed Eulogio’s lifestyle wasn’t healthy- he wasn’t eating well. He would go to work all day with nothing but a large bottle of soda or skip meals. He had always had his wife to cook for him. He was, however, still managing to get by, so they let him stay where he wanted.
On one such visit, after Eulogio had been living alone for awhile, Yuri noticed his father had trouble moving, he wasn't leaving the house much. Yuri noticed Eulogio’s pants become visibly wet during a conversation- he could no longer control his bladder. Yuri looked around for all the animals his father once had, guinea pigs, chickens, pigs, horses, and realized most of them had died or disappeared.
Yuri insisted his father leave, he didn’t feel Eulogio could continue living alone, he needed medical attention. Yuri and his siblings took him to a hospital in Cusco, he was diagnosed with a bladder obstruction and arthritis. In January of 2015, they decided he would be better off in Lima with Yuri, where there was better medical care available.
Better, being a very relative term in this instance- better, but not good. A year later, no treatment had begun in the public health system.
Eulogio and Yuri have been told they will have to wait another two months to get the MRI the doctors need to begin treatment. MEDLIFE encountered Eulogio in a mobile clinic, have him medicine and is committed to ensuring he gets the treatment he needs, with our without the public health systems help.
It’s the middle of November in Lima, summer is just around the corner. For the first time in weeks the sky was blue and the sun was baking the vast expanse of sandy, shack dotted hillsides that surround central Lima. We were trying to find the second patient on our visit list for the day.
In order to do that, we had to take three busses, hike across garbage-strewn dirt roads, past a massive cemetery up to a footpath (which would not even pass as an acceptable hiking trail in the United States) which led to the communities high on the hillside that no car could drive to.
We slipped on the gravel, occasionally passing trees that shocked the desert with a bright green. This was the site of a future MEDLIFE staircase, but for now it was still just another one of the slick and steep gravel paths that cut the hillside into a disorderly maze of homes and communities.
We finally arrived at Carmen Castro’s house, sweating under the blazing sun. MEDLIFE nurse Carmen knocked on Castro’s door. No answer. I sighed, feeling exasperated- this was a long way to come to not even see the patient.
We had already gone all the way to see another patient, Nery Huaman Salas, in a different community to review her test results with her- but she still hadn’t gone to pick them up yet, so Carmen asked her to please get them and said we would come back.
MEDLIFE walked her through breast cancer treatment, she had an operation and the tumour was removed. When we saw her today she was working at her tienda, something she couldn’t do before the operation. She said she was feeling better, despite a few aches and pains. But she still needed to get that test to make sure that the cancer was totally gone.
The patients that make it into the MEDLIFE follow up care system are the tough ones-patients who were already in a hard situation before they got really sick, patients who needed far more help than could be provided in a mobile clinic. When treatable patients like these get put in the MEDLIFE patient follow up system, nurses stick with these patients through every step of care.
That is not as easy as it sounds, even basic logistics like meeting the patients can be a huge challenge.
Most of our patients do not have phones or email addresses. That means there is often no way to prearrange a meeting with them. That means that our nurses have to go all the way to their homes to check on them, see if they are there and make sure they are following through with their treatment.
When living day to day is a struggle, like it is for our follow-up care patients, people tend to take care of whatever current need is most pressing. They think about things like making enough money to feed their kids and getting drinkable water. When you are not currently feeling ill, it makes sense that such concerns would trump future health, especially when you have to travel a long ways to get from your home to a doctors office, sacrificing valuable time and energy.
Once our follow-up patients start feeling better and can start working again, their health becomes abstract, they are no longer directly suffering because of it and thus the final stages of treatment are not a top priority.
In many cases, this is a critical moment; patients need to stick with treatment after symptoms have subsided to ensure continued health, to ensure they don't relapse.
Carmen Castro had Hyperthyroidism, which had caused her thyroid gland to swell into a large and visibly painful goiter on her neck. It had gone down, she was feeling better and back to caring for her family, but if she didn’t go get a blood hormone test and take the medicine she needed, her symptoms would come back.
She had already been visited a couple of times by MEDLIFE staff, and had continually told them she had not gotten the exam. So we were back again, hoping she had gone.
We soon encountered one of Castro’s young daughters who led us around the families small rusty-green home to Castro’s sister. She apologized, Castro wasn’t here. She had gone to get her blood exam. Carmen smiled at her and asked her what day she could return to discuss the results- she would be back.
Two more interns joined our communications team this season:
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: There was a chapter at my university and one of my close friends was the leader of that chapter. I wasn’t able to go on their trip to Perú, but I worked closely with the chapter and heard a lot of great things about what MEDLIFE was doing in South America. It got me interested, so after college when I was looking at internships in photography and videography, many of my friends recommended that I look more into MEDLIFE.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Born and raised in the Pacific North West, I went to school in Seattle to study physiology. I also minored in New Media Studio Art. I am passionate about capturing art through photography and videography, and sharing these important messages through the internet. In 2007, I created a YouTube channel to share my work. What started out as a fun hobby, quickly became my career. After graduating, I moved to Nebraska. I then worked as a barista for a while until I could manage as a full-time YouTuber. I hope to continue my work as a creator to one day work in the fields of photography, videography, media and global development.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: Many of my friends were involved in studying global poverty in college. It peaked my interest, and after taking some classes, I felt compelled to do something. After graduating, I was unsure about applying to medical school, so I decided that I would chase this urge to work in global development. I decided to become an intern because I learned about the injustices that millions of people are living with here, and I felt that I could help tell the story through my social media platforms and recruit more help.
What are your goals for this internship?: My goal for this internship is primarily to learn. I want to learn how I can use my skills and abilities to aid in the development of impoverished regions. I hope to capture the right images that accurately portray the situation here. It is also my goal to become better at Spanish and grow in my ability to live internationally.
What was your first impression of Lima?: I was surprised when I first entered Lima. I had this perception that Lima was a very tropical location, and somehow it would be extremely sunny for the most part. I arrived in the South American winter, and it was actually fairly cold and cloudy. Besides the unexpected climate and landscape, I was immediately taken aback by the division of the wealthy from the impoverished here. Some parts of Lima remind me of wealthy parts of the United States, with large glass buildings, business people and many beautiful parks. Other parts of Lima have piles of trash burning on the streets, small muddy homes made of plywood, and no access to clean water. There are large walls that divide some of these impoverished regions from the most wealthy parts of Lima just a mile away. It is insane to think about the division here, and in such close proximity!
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: Habia escuchado acerca de la organización a través de un amigo que había participado en una Clínica Móvil. Una ves me traslado a la Universidad a la que asisto actualmente, el capitulo de MEDLIFE acababa de abrir, por lo que decidí unirme inmediatamente formando parte del equipo de trabajo. Durante el periodo de diez meses ayude en la creación y planificación de recaudaciones de fondos, actividades de impacto universitario y servicio comunitario.
I heard about the organization through a friend that attended a Mobile Clinic. Once I transferred to the university I currently attend, I found that the chapter had recently opened. Therefore, I joined them immediately as an executive board member. During a period of ten months I contributed to the planning and creation of fundraisers, college activities for members and community service.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Actualmente curso mi cuarto año de universidad donde estudio un Bachillerato en Administración de Empresas con concentración en Mercadeo. Me gusta trabajar en áreas relacionadas al ámbito agrícola al igual que con servicio comunitario. Por años he formado parte de la Organización Nacional FFA quien ha sido clave de éxito para cada una de las oportunidades que se me han presentado. Por otra parte me gusta la música country, la pizza, viajar, y visitar diferentes lugares.
I am a senior in college pursuing a Bachelor´s of Business Administration with a focus in Marketing. I like working with areas related to the agricultural field and community service. For years I’ve been a member of the National FFA Organization, who has been a key to my success in most of the opportunities I have had. On the other hand I like country music, pizza, traveling and visiting different places.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: Luego de haber aprendido mucho a cerca de la organización y haber aportado en mi capitulo, entendía que debía ampliar un poco mas el conocimiento y llevarlo a un nivel mas alto de practica. Es por ello que como parte de mi formación académica, entendía que participando en este Internado podía expandir mis conocimientos y a la vez aportar con los mismos en un lugar donde la necesidad es la orden del día. Ahí comencé a buscar información a cerca de los programas que ofrecía la organización y encontré el programa y la oportunidad perfecta.
After learning about the organization and supporting my chapter, I thought I needed to amplify my knowledge and take them to a whole new level of practice. That´s why as part of my academic experience, I understood that participating in this internship was going to help me expand my knowledge and at the same time contribute in a place where there is alot of need. I began to search for information regarding the programs the organization offers, and I found the perfect opportunity.
What are your goals for this internship? Durante el periodo de tiempo que estaré en Lima, planifico aprender de cada área de la cual se compone MEDLIFE. Planifico contribuir a la labor de nuestra misión y espero cumplir con todas las tareas que se me sean asignadas y sobre cumplir las expectativas siempre teniendo en mente el propósito de porque estoy aquí.
During the period of time that I will be in Lima, I plan to learn about all areas of MEDLIFE's work. I also plan to contribute to the labor of our mission and I hope to accomplish every assigned task and go above and beyond that, having always in mind the purpose of why I´m here.
What was your first impression of Lima?: Lima me parece un lugar enorme comparado con sitios anteriores que he visitado, de hecho es enorme. Sus calles son muy frecuentadas y las estructuras hacen que se vea muy bonito. Definitivamente es un lugar donde hay mucho para explorar.
Lima seems an enormous place compared to places I have visited before; actually it is enormous. The streets are very busy and the buildings make it look really nice and pretty. This is definitely a place where there’s a lot to explore.
“People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities, and nations, and yes, the world.” –Beth Clarke
These inspirational words give an understanding of what it is like to work for an NGO. It is this persistent attitude and drive that makes every impact you and I may have on the world no matter how small, all worthwhile, yet there is always this ironic feeling of disappointment for how much more needs to be done and how little you feel has been accomplished. But with every smile you put on a child’s face and every life you improve in one way or another, I am reminded why my passion truly does make a difference in our vast world.
My name is April Gulotti and I am 22 years old. I graduated from University of Delaware and I am currently living in Lima, Peru working for MEDLIFE; an NGO dedicated to providing families living in impoverished communities with a better quality of life. I moved here in August and as I learned more and more of worldwide and local public health issues, I realized my passion for the global water crisis.
Have you ever taken a single sip of water and thought how lucky you are? Have you ever stopped to think of the 1.1 billion people living on the same planet as you who have no access to even a single sip of sanitary drinking water- that’s 1 in 9 people world-wide! This lack of access causes parasites, malaria, diarrhea, and often leads to death. Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths worldwide in children under the age of 5 occurs due to a water-related disease. Clean water is a gift. It is a privilege that much of the world takes for granted. These staggering and shocking statistics are what motivated me to provide clean, safe drinking water to families and children in Moshi, Tanzania.
After extensive research, I have decided that the most practical, efficient, and cost-effective water filtration system for development work in Tanzania are Bio-Sand filters; a cement structure with a hollow center made up of layers of sand and gravel. The dirty water is poured into the top of the filter, then travels down through the sand bed and passes through multiple layers of gravel. As dirty water works its way down the filter, pathogens and contaminants are removed. The clean water pours out through the plastic piping for a family to collect in clean containers with a lid and spigot that I will also be providing called a jerry bucket. These filters have proven to remove 90% of bacteria and 100% of parasites, resulting in significant improvement in the quality of the water making it safe to drink.
Depending on how much money we raise together, up to 30 biosand filters will be constructed, delivered, and installed at the end of January, benefitting approximately 200 people.
Working hand in hand with the families receiving the filters, I will educate them on the risks and dangers of the unsanitary water they are currently drinking. Most importantly, the individuals will be taught exactly how to use the bio-sand filter and how to maintain it properly, so it remains a sustainable water filtration solution.
This is your chance to make a concrete change in the lives of people living without one of life’s most basic necessities. This is your opportunity to save the lives of children suffering from preventable illnesses. Please consider donating to my project and helping me make my dream of providing those facing these harsh conditions a reality. Your generous donation, no matter how small or large, will contribute to something incredible. I will make sure to update all donors with pictures and videos on the progress of the project so you can all see the change that we were able to create together. Thank you so much for your generosity in helping me transform the world one step at a time.
We spoke with the Florida State University Chapter MEDLIFE Health president Aleks Peterson about how they run a succesful MEDLIFE chapter.
When and how did your chapter begin?
Our Florida State University chapter began about 5 years ago when the founding executive eboard heard about MEDLIFE. They all had a passion for medicine, public health, service, therefore MEDLIFE was a great organization that they thought FSU could benefit from. They organized enough members to go through the process of becoming a recognized student organization (RSO) on campus, and after that they were free to hold meetings and recruit people to go on the mobile clinic trips.
What strategies did you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus?
I joined the organization my freshman year, which was only MEDLIFE FSU’s second year as an RSO, and I remember learning about MEDLIFE through Facebook events that were posted on group pages within FSU’s network. I also learned more about the organization by attending our campus’s fall involvement fair. But it seemed like Facebook was a main form of promotion, as well as chalking on sidewalks.
What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?
For our chapter, we are always accepting new members! Anyone is allowed to volunteer, help with events, and be as involved as they want to be. Within recent years, we have instilled a “Gold Membership” program, where members can earn points through their involvement. The requirements have changed throughout the years, as we have learned what works and what does not. But currently, the requirements to become a Gold Member are that dues must be paid and a minimum of 30 points must be earned throughout the year. When members complete these requirements, we invite them to a banquet at the end of spring semester where we provide food and drinks, present certificates of achievement (and small medical pins), give out superlative awards, and present graduating seniors with chords that they can wear at graduation. It’s a nice ceremony that is semi-formal, and it works as a nice incentive to get members more involved throughout the year.
What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year?
We always have something going on for our members to keep them interested. We have annual, large fundraisers like our 5K and sports tournament, as well as smaller activities like volunteer trips to various service organizations. We also keep ourselves involved in all campus initiatives, such as Relay for Life, Light the Night, the Big Event, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, etc. We also plan socials for members to get together and get to know one another. We do this especially around the times in which we are about to send people on mobile clinics, so that they are able to make new friends that they can then go on the trip with.
What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2015-2016)?
Our goals are always to improve from the previous year. This means recruiting more new members, having more people at our meetings, having more people register for trips, and continue to make a difference within the community. A big goal of ours this year was to make our 5K bigger. With that, we reached out to other pre-health organizations who wanted to co-host the event with us. Last year was our first year providing the option of 2 separate clinic locations at the same time, and that is something we want to keep doing as well as long as there are enough people interested. A couple more goals we have is to have weekly service trips and focus more on fundraising for those going on the trips.
Around 7 months ago I had to ask myself, why would I book a flight to somewhere 6,316 miles away, from home, to a place I've only seen on a map, a place I can't even speak the language?
If I could go back and reply to my past self while I puzzled over the idea, this would be the answer to my question.
The UC Davis MEDLIFE chapter has been doing an incredible job this year, they won the MEDLIFE Fundraiser award for 2015, as well as managing to grow their chapter this year. Today we talked with chapter leader Tara Piryaei to find out how they did it.
When and how did your chapter begin?
Our chapter was started in 2012 by a group of motivated students looking for sustainable change.
What strategies do you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus?
Much of our strategy involves chalking and flyering in crowded areas with the most freshman. We make sure to sign up for all involvement fairs and club promotion days, and have our executive board and general members make announcements to their classes. Facebook promotion is also very successful and includes posting on multiple UC Davis group pages.
What system do you use to recruit new members? What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?
Our new members must accumulate a certain amount of MEDpoints in order to be active members. Members can accumulate MEDpoints through participating in community service, outreach, fundraising, coming to every meeting, and even through attending our socials!
What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year?
We have a large event every quarter that involves a lot of planning, and our members play a big role in planning these events with us. We also bring in various speakers as well as hold multiple workshops, such as a Spanish workshop and a vitals workshop. We start off every meeting with a game to ensure our members are getting to know each other. Occasional free food helps too!
What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2015-2016)?
For the 2015-2016 academic year, we plan on holding a large successful fundraiser each quarter, from Entertainment Showcase, to MEDTalks, to Springsplosion. We hope to gather enough donations from these events to fund a second project. We also strive to send at least 50 people out to mobile clinics over the course of the year. Lastly, we hope to create a lasting bonding with our members that will encourage them to return to our meetings.