February 9, 2016 9:42 AM

Former Intern Donates Toys to WaWawasi

Written by Jake Kincaid

Former media intern Daniela Martes, along with mobile clinic volunteers from Cusco and Lima, donated toys to the Wawawasi in Union Santa Fe. We delivered them to the Wawawasi in early Febuary 2016. The donations were received with smiles when we delivered them and are sure to keep the generations of children who will pass through the Wawawasi happily playing. 

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The Union Santa Fe Wawawasi

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The children receiving their toys.

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"Welcome to the cradle of brilliant futures."

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February 4, 2016 3:57 PM

Cocinas Mejoradas Photo Blog

Written by Jake Kincaid

       MEDLIFE completed our first round of fuel efficient stove projects in Yuncaypata during the Winter Mobile Clinic season. Over the span of two week-long volunteer trips 18 kitchens were renovated. The results were amazing. Most of the people in Yuncaypata used wood burning stoves to cook, basically just a firepit, and do not have chimneys. The effects of the exposure to that much wood-smoke are extremely harmful to health, causing respiritatory and cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks, lung cancer and strokes. Prolonged exposure, which is what you get when you cook over a wood stove every day, can also cause cataracs, which are typically untreated in these communities and lead to impaired vision. The physical labor of collecting wood and cooking over an ineffecient wood stove is also very time consuming. MEDLIFE's fuel efficient stoves funnel smoke out of the home, use much less wood and cook faster. 

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Light beams illuminate smoke as it fills the home of somone cooking with a traditional wood stove.

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A window so stained with smoke you cannot see through it, imagine what this did to this home owners lungs.

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Volunteers begin working in a home while the owner cooks for her children. The smoke made them cough after a couple of minutes. 

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Before the kitchen was renovated by MEDLIFE. The smoke stained windows and lightbulbs cast a yellow glow over everything.

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The same kitchen after MEDLIFE renovated it, with the new stove in the corner and clear white light.

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Before

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After

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A kitchen part way through construction.

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The base that is heated by the fire holds heat extremely well, and is made of a mixture of materials that can be collected in the community; human hair, sugar, salt, beer bottles, and adobe.

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The mixture being packed into the stove frame.

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Before.

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After.

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Cooking on a new fuel efficient stove. She said that the new stove saves her hours of time per day.

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A chimney pumps smoke out of the house.

February 2, 2016 4:23 PM

Yuncaypata: Photoblog

Written by Jake Kincaid

This winter clinic season in Cusco, MEDLIFE began working intensively in the rural agrarian community of Yuncaypata, located in the mountains about 45 minutes outside of Cusco. MEDLIFE choose Yuncaypata as the site of its first fuel efficient stove project. Volunteers worked for a couple of weeks renovating kitchens here. Walking the streets of Yuncaypata is bittersweet, as the extreme beauty of the natural surroundings and the residents of the community is contrasted with the extreme poverty experienced by those who live there. These photos hold a sense of the former.

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Backyard with flowers on a stormy day.

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A beneficiary of the stoves project stands in her kitchen.

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Child of a beneficiary stands against an adobe wall, a material many houses here are constructed from.

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The streets here are unpaved, and turn to thick sludge in the rain.

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Guinea Pig on the floor of a beneficiaries (pictured below) kitchen, before MEDLIFE renovated it. Guinea Pig, or cuy is a typical food here. Many people keep them in their kitchens like this.

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Portrait of beneficiary. You can see the wood pile she uses to fuel her kitchen behind her.

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Child of beneficiary with his mother in kitchen.

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Home in Yuncaypata as storm clears above.

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Compound where several families live on a sunny day.

January 28, 2016 3:57 PM

MEDLIFE is expanding to India!

Written by Jake Kincaid

In 2016 MEDLIFE continues to take its mission global! We are thrilled to announce the second of our two new destinations this year, the amazing city of New Delhi, India. India is one of the worlds most fascinating and sought after travel destinations, home to a diverse cultural tapestry of richness and depth unmatched anywhere in the world.

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India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism Jainism and Sikhism, 22 official languages are recognized in the country, and over a thousand more are spoken. India’s roots are deep- its human history dates back over a thousand years before Christ. It is home to some of the most interesting and flavorful cuisine in the world.  In short, there is no place quite like India.

New Delhi, as India's capital city, contains all of the elements that make the vast country of India such a wonder to behold. The first city in Delhi was founded in 786 AD by Tomar rulers, and since then its streets have seen the rise and fall of many dynasties. It was declared the capital of the Mughal empire, the British colonial capital and is now the capital of the modern Indian state. This history is a living presence on the streets of New Delhi, where in the same day one can stroll past an ancient Mughal fortress (one of three UNESCO sites in the area), British colonial architecture and a glittering shopping center catering to India’s emerging middle class.

Despite the small emerging middle class, India is still by almost any measure one of the poorest countries in the world.

In 2012 the World Bank reported that India was home to the largest population of people experiencing poverty in the world. Along with its world-class tourist attractions, though the standard tourist generally avoids it, New Delhi also contains vast slums. It is here that MEDLIFE will begin its work in India.

In India around 35% of the population lives below the national poverty line, a statistical measure based on caloric intake that is widely criticised. Many people argue that the current government statistics greatly under represent the true scope of poverty in India.

Access to health care is a serious issue in impoverished communities in India, as there is not much of a public health system. The government spends only 4% of its GDP on healthcare, which is very low. Compare that to the 17% spent by the US, 9.7% by Brazil, 9.4% by Haiti (the poorest country in the Americas) and 8.7% by Honduras.

Poor infrastructure, serious public health problems, low education and lack of access to good healthcare all feed on each other to sustain and exascerbate the poor quality of life that can be seen in India’s slums. What follows is a short description of some of the most severe problems, but there are many more issues I will not go into.

Hygiene and sanitation are serious issues in the slums, which of course has a detrimental effect on general health by spreading and in some cases creating disease. Only about 30% of slums in the New Delhi area have septic tanks, while 22% have no latrine facility at all- the others have put something inbetween into place. The problem is so severe that the government declared ending open defecation a national priority, and UNICEF even felt it necessary to create this public service campaign to aid the cause featuring a catchy (you have been warned) song about a poo-party, which I think says more about the gravity of the situation than any number of statistics could.

While poor sanitation ensures there are plenty of hazardous germs in the environment, poor nutrition ensures that people’s immune systems are vulnerable to illness. Nutritional diseases create one of the highest burdens of disease in India along with neonatal and maternal. 15.2% of the population fell below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption in 2014. Data about child nutrition is especially grave, in 2011 UNICEF reported that about 20% of children under-age five in India are wasted, a condition akin to acute malnutrition where muscle and fat tissues waste away. 43% of Indian children are underweight, which constitutes about 37% of the total underweight children in the world, and 48% were stunted. 

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These hazardous conditions often have a more serious consequence than stunted growth; in India about 1.83 million children die annually before reaching their fifth birthday – most of them due to preventable causes. India contributes more than 20% of child deaths worldwide.

Many conditions are allowed to worsen unnecessarily because access is so difficult. According to a government survey 52% of slums in the New Delhi area did not have motor access, in case of an emergency transporting a patient would be extremely difficult. While there is some basic free health care available in public hospitals, it is of extremely poor quality, difficult to navigate and often involves co-pay. 80% of health care spending still goes to the private sector.

Non-communicable diseases, primarily heart disease and diabetes make up the second greatest disease burden category in India. Slum residents have a higher incidence than those living in wealthier areas, along with poorer outcomes. Research suggests that education, awareness of vulnerability and risk factors are strong contributing factors along with poor treatment access and adherence.

Preventable conditions affect impoverished populations significantly. India bears the highest burden of Tuberculosis in the world according to WHO statistics, 2.1 million cases of active TB ocurred in India out of a total global incidence of 9 million in 2013. Incedence of HIV, which is often comorbid with TB, is very high as well, with an estimated 2.1 million living with HIV in India. 

Though the scale of the problems paints a bleak picture, things have begun to improve on some measures, for example Malaria incidence was similar to Tuberculosis in 2000, but since then the government and other organizations have helped halve the cases, from 2 million in the year 2000 to 882,000 in 2013.

 If the people of India and the international community work together, a better quality of life can be achieved.

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Come join MEDLIFE as we become part of the change in India with our first mobile clinics! We will be partnering with a local health institute called Mamta, who will provide MEDLIFE with local medical staff, and head into the slums of New Delhi to bring free basic healthcare directly to communities in need.

New Delhi Clinics:

May 7-15

May 14-22

 

Sources:

http://www.aidsdatahub.org/Country-Profiles/India

http://www.tbfacts.org/rntcp/

http://www.who.int/features/2015/india-programme-end-malaria/en/

http://www.mrcindia.org/MRC_profile/profile2/Estimation%20of%20true%20malaria%20burden%20in%20India.pdf

http://www.poverties.org/urban-poverty-in-india.html

http://www.poverties.org/poverty-in-india.html

http://www.who.int/gho/countries/ind.pdf?ua=1

http://apps.who.int/nutrition/landscape/report.aspx?iso=ind

http://www.unicef.org/about/annualreport/files/India_Annual_Report_2014.pdf

http://www.unicef.org/sitan/files/SitAn_India_May_2011.pdf

http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/adcd1f0047a86473ab46ffbdc775c0fb/pdf+report+69th+round+slum+final.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&lmod=538772215&CACHEID=adcd1f0047a86473ab46ffbdc775c0fb

http://www.hindustantimes.com/business/india-s-poverty-rate-lowest-among-countries-with-poor-populations/story-UUrEApaBqRZth6EzRdRK6K.html

 

January 22, 2016 3:12 PM

Intern Journal: William Arce

Written by William Arce

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Mi experiencia con MEDLIFE en Lima, Perú comenzó aproximadamente tres meses atrás. Jamás imaginé que llegaría a estar donde me encuentro hoy, entusiasmado y con infinitas ganas de seguir trabajando por las personas que verdaderamente lo necesitan. Esta oportunidad me ha brindado muchas herramientas que me han permitido modificar mi perspectiva hacia la vida.

Recuerdo mi primera vez en el campo. Era una tarde soleada, donde el verano no había comenzado oficialmente y aún quedaba un poco del frio desértico. Desde el principio me mantuve con una perspectiva de ser objetivo ante las posibilidades que allí me podía enfrentar. Una vez que llegamos al lugar y presencié lo que allí había, no pude dejar de pensar en las veces que fui poco agradecido. Conocí a muchas familias, escuché sus historias, les brindé mi tiempo, y por un momento me olvidé de todo. Fue ahí, en ese momento, donde me dije a mi mismo que jamás volvería a ser igual.

 Desde entonces comencé a visitar pacientes para conocer sus historias y necesidades, como también entrevisté a algunos para investigar a fondo la raíz de la problemática social que nos encontramos al visitar muchas comunidades. Por otra parte tuve la dicha de viajar a Cusco, Perú y a Riobamba, Ecuador, donde también trabajé con voluntarios de diferentes países, llevando así servicios gratuitos de medicina y dental, así como talleres de educación a las comunidades que tienen menos acceso a la ciudad. De igual forma aportamos con la construcción de guarderías para niños, escaleras y baterías sanitarias.

Dentro de todas esas oportunidades que se me presentaron, siempre recuerdo una visita que hicimos a una paciente, Ida Lampas. En la visita estuve por dos horas consecutivas hablando con la paciente acerca de sus condiciones y las cosas que le habían sucedido. Pero eso no fue todo, a mitad de conversación comenzó a mencionar las cosas positivas que sobrepasaban todo lo negativo que había pasado. Entendí que no son las cosas que pasamos sino con la actitud con que las afrontamos. No les puedo explicar con palabras la emoción que sentí al escuchar su historia y ver que de alguna manera el simple hecho de haberla escuchado era suficiente para ella.

Estar en otro país, lejos de tus costumbres y tu familia siempre es difícil, pero cuando te das cuenta de todo el cambio que has logrado solo puedes pensar en lo feliz que te sientes de haber logrado tu meta. Es por ello que me siento extremadamente agradecido de la oportunidad que MEDLIFE me ha dado para poder aportar a esta causa. A veces las personas no entienden porque hacemos este tipo de labor, pero la realidad es que forma parte de nuestro llamado. Tenemos que ayudar a las personas sin mirar su raza, su color, su partido político o situación económica. Todos tenemos la oportunidad de impactar vidas, ya sea en nuestros hogares, a nuestros vecinos, en comunidades locales, en el trabajo o en cualquier lugar. Soy un fiel creyente de que tenemos que vivir para servir. 


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My experience with MEDLIFE in Lima, Peru, began about three months ago. I never imagined I would be where I am today, excited and with an endless desire to continue working for people who truly need it. This opportunity has given me many tools that have allowed me to change my outlook towards life.

I remember my first time in the field. It was a sunny afternoon, summer had not yet officially begun and there was still a little bit of the desert cold. When I first came to Lima I tried to keep an open mind about what I would find there. Once we got to the Pueblos Jovenes and witnessed what was there, I could not stop thinking about the times I was thankless. I met many families, I heard their stories, I offered them my time, and for a moment I forgot everything. It was there, at that point where I said to myself, I will never be the same.

Since then I started visiting patients to learn their stories and needs. I interviewed them and tried to thoroughly investigate the root of the social problems we found while visiting many communities. Moreover I had the good fortune to travel to Cusco, Peru and Riobamba, Ecuador, where I also worked with volunteers from different countries, bringing free medical and dental services, and educational workshops to communities that have less access to the city . Likewise we contribute to building nurseries, staircases and hygiene projects.

Among those opportunities that came my way, I will always remember a visit we made to a patient, Ida Lampas. During the visit I talked with the patient for two hours about her condition and the things that had happened to her. But that was not all, she started to mention the positive things that surpassed anything negative that happened to her. I understood that it is not about the things that happen to us but the attitude with which we face them. I can not explain in words the emotion I felt when I heard her story and saw that somehow the simple fact of having heard her was enough for her.

Being in another country far from your habits and your family is always difficult, but when you realize everything you've accomplished you can only think about how happy you feel having achieved your goal. That is why I am extremely grateful for the opportunity MEDLIFE gave me to contribute to this cause. Sometimes people do not understand why we do this kind of work, but the reality is that is part of our calling. We have to help people without regard for race, color, political party or economic status. We all have the opportunity to impact lives, whether in our homes, to our neighbors, local communities, at work or anywhere. I am a firm believer that we must live to serve.

January 21, 2016 11:44 AM

MEDLIFE is expanding to Nicaragua!

Written by Jake Kincaid

In 2005, our founder Nick Ellis had a dream, a dream of providing healthcare to all who need it most. He shared his vision with motivated individuals and MEDLIFE was officially founded in the Ecuadorian Andes. He began by working closely with the poorest rural communities in the region, communities that have been neglected by society, left without access to the basics like good education, healthcare, or infrastructure.  As we grew, we realized we could expand beyond our humble beginnings in Riobamba; there were many such communities around the world.  MEDLIFE soon expanded to Lima, and began working with communities in the Peruvian capital. 

In 2016, MEDLIFE runs medical clinics and does development projects in multiple destinations, bringing medical care and sustainable development to the communities that need it most in Peru, Ecuador and Tanzania. Now, MEDLIFE is thrilled to announce the first of two new destinations, Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. Managua is located on the shores of the beautiful volcano ringed Lake Managua, near the Pacific coast.

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Nicaragua is a small country of unmatched beauty. The interior of the country is rich in biodiversity with 68 different ecosystems, from savahnah to rainforest, representing 68% of Central America’s ecosystemic richness. Nicaraugua has not one but two coastlines full of pristine beaches that have not yet developed into tourist traps. The country also boasts some of the best-preserved colonial cities in the Americas, like Grenada.

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The country’s beauty stands in contrast to the extreme poverty experienced by many of the people who reside in it, poverty brought on by a history full of internal conflicts and natural disasters.

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Nicaragua is the second most impoverished nation in the Americas, with 42.5% living below the national poverty line. MEDLIFE will begin working in Ciudad de Sandino, a city with particularly grave problems that came into being as a refuge for flood victims in the 70s and has continued to take in the refugees of the many subsequent internal conflicts and disasters that have besieged Nicaragua.

The area, at the time known as OPEN3 was first settled after a massive flood hit Managau in 1970, which caused Lake Managua to submerge a 13 km strip of fishing villages. These people had nowhere to go, and were forced to flee the area with whatever they could carry with them, not much, to OPEN3, a strip of cotton farming land that was then mostly uninhabited. Residents settled there and tried to begin anew from nothing. We see the same story cyclically reemerge throughout OPEN3’s history.

In 1972, a catastrophic earthquake rocked Managua leaving 6,000 dead and 20,000 injured. Earthquake victims came to OPEN 3 to begin again. Geraldine O’Leary, a nun who traveled to Nicaragua to work in OPEN3 just after the earthquake, wrote this in her memoir of life in OPEN3 in the early 70s.

“…Epidemics decimated the infant population. Even among us, there was a bout of stomach problems, more from the intestinal parasites that were as common as the dust in the water. OPEN 3 was growing so fast after the earthquake, from some four thousand inhabitants to an eventual 45 thousand, that basic hygiene became a number one priority. The newcomers often did not build latrines but simply used the local vacant lot. This combined with the pollutants already in the soil from the cotton farming, and the lack of water to maintain basic cleanliness made living in this dust bowl a constant threat. ”

Pg. 96 Light My Fire

The international community poured relief funds into Nicaragua. However, it soon came to light that the money was not reaching the victims of the disaster, Somoza Debayle, the then chief executive of the Nicaraguan government embezzled the international relief money.

The disaster had created a huge population of desperate people who no longer had anything to lose and the news that Somoza had embezzled their relief funds angered them, especially since Somoza remained in power. Economic and living conditions worsened as the years passed in Nicaragua. In OPEN3, where many of the most desperate citizens of Managua were trying to begin again, citizens continued to struggle to create a life with almost no support and a lack of basic infrastructure.

Historian Manzar Foroohar writes this of life in OPEN3 in the mid 70s.

“ Not even one paved road existed in the barrio. Most of the houses did not have electricity, and nobody had potable water. OPEN3 was so poor that the inhabitants lacked even a cemetery to bury their dead. By the mid 1970’s, more than 50% of the barrio’s adult population was unemployed. Malnutrition and lack of health care resulted in a very high infant mortality rate, 330 per 1000. ”

p.136, The Catholic Church and Social Change in Nicaragua

Conditions were ripe for revolution, and in 1978 the Sandinista National Liberation Front, a rebel group that was disenchanted with the Somoza government with ambitions to take control of the country seized the opportunity and launched a violent uprising. After a bloody struggle, they took power in 1979.

Though the Carter administration initially decided to work with the Sandinista government, the Reagan administration began to see them as a communist threat after they began to undertake some wealth redistribution projects and were caught distributing arms to Salvadorian rebels. The Reagan administration authorized the CIA to begin supporting antiSandinista rebels known as the Contras. This created a violent internal conflict that lasted for a decade.

During this time, conditions in OPEN3 improved little and the community continued to grow. In 1998 Hurricane Mitch devastated Nicaragua along with several other countries in the region and Managua was hit particularly hard as the lake swelled once again swallowed communities along its shores. Again residents flooded OPEN3 and founded the community of Nueva Vida, or New Life in Spanish, directly naming their community after the ethos that lies behind OPEN3.

Today Nicaragua is politically stable, no longer a hot topic in the news cycle and by many measures the safest country in Central America. However, after decades of internal conflict and natural disasters it is still the second poorest country in the Americas, with 42.5% of the population living below the national poverty line, and 8.5% of the country living on under 1.25$ a day. During the decades of near ceaseless turmoil, the underlying issues that keep these community in poverty have never been adequately addressed.

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Infrastructure and public services remain very underdeveloped in rural areas and in poor urban slums like OPEN3, which is now a large city known as Ciudad Sandino located not far from the Managua city center. For many of the poor residents of Ciudad Sandino, living conditions are much the same as they were for the refugees of the early 70’s.

The healthcare system in Nicaragua is unable to adequately meet the substantial need of the population. According to a World Bank report, a very small portion of the population is insured, 24% of Managuans and only 5% of Nicaraguans who live below the poverty line. Because of this, out of pocket expenditures are a serious barrier to access for the poor, constituting 86% of all private health care expenditures. Access still remains a serious obstacle as well.

A sampling of the many significant public health needs highlighted by World Health Organization statistics includes a high rate of preventable diseases like malaria, parasitic diseases, and tuberculosis. Infant mortality is high, 31 per 1000 for infants under 5, and in the impoverished areas is associated with respiratory diseases, neonatal sepsis, congenital malformations, diarrhea, malnutrition, and meningitis. Maternal mortality is high in rural and indigenous populations, the poor, adolescents, and women with low levels of schooling.

Some 22% of children living in the poorest quartile of urban areas suffer from malnutrition versus 0.4% in the richest quartile. 23% of children under 5 showed stunted growth as of 2006.

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Although many illnesses are preventable, only 3.7% of all individuals receive preventive health care in Nicaragua.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done to bring quality healthcare to the people of Managua! Become part of the solution and come work with MEDLIFE in Nicaragua. MEDLIFE’s first round of clinics in Managua seek to take the first step in addressing the significant healthcare needs of Ciudad Sandino by providing free basic healthcare services in our Mobile Clinics.

Sign up here!

Trip Dates:

March 5th - 13th

March 12th - 20th


 

Sources

http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr_2015_statistical_annex.pdf

http://www.envio.org.ni/articulo/16

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/269619.stm

http://web.stanford.edu/group/arts/nicaragua/discovery_eng/timeline/

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/HEALTHNUTRITIONANDPOPULATION/Resources/281627-1095698140167/CortezNicaraguaHealth.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyCqJzBFJnI

http://www.fsdinternational.org/country/nicaragua/healthissues

O'Leary-Macias, Geraldine. Lighting My Fire: Memoirs between Two Worlds. Place of Publication Not Identified: Trafford, 2013. Print.

Foroohar, Manzar. The Catholic Church and Social Change in Nicaragua. Albany, NY: State U of New York, 1989. Print.

January 14, 2016 11:28 AM

50:50 CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHT: Abey Sivanesan

Written by Rosali Vela

Winter Mobile Clinics have just started and several students have been fundraising through the 50:50 campaign. This is one of the students who is working in the clinic. Her name is Abey Sivanesan and she is from the University of Western. She had a successful campaign that enabled her to make her trip to Cusco this past week. For more information about the 50:50 campaign click here: 50:50 Campaign

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How did you hear about the 50/50 Campaign? When I originally applied to the trip MEDLIFE sent us e-mails and informed us about the campaign.
 
When did you decided to organized your 50/50 campaign? I actually signed up for the trip really late so I organized the campaign pretty soon right after I signed up. Which was about a month before the trip started.
Did you encounter any obstacles in the process? There were a lot of obstacles in terms of how much money I needed to raise and even asking people for the money. But I was certain that once I was able to explain what MEDLIFE does, people would be willing to help. In the end I was thrilled at the positive reaction towards my fundraising campaign.
 
How was organizing a 50/50 campaign a positive experience and what did you learned from it? I actually really enjoyed it because we stated a movement that highlighted different problems outside of our own country. Educating our friends and family about the developing countries we were visiting helped us receive donations.
 
What do you think about your volunteer trip so far?  I've loved every moment of it! It has been an eye opening experience in terms of what we have seen. It is extremely different from a classroom experience where you read a textbook. We actually get to see it in person, working along side professionals. 
 
How do you feel about the impact you have made through raising money to support people like the ones you are working with during your trip?  I feel really happy that half of the money goes to the people and not all directly to me. Seeing how much money they need and knowing that half of what I am raising goes toward them makes me really happy, because this means they will have more doctors, nurses and more people that will help them. 
 
What advice you have for students organizing a 50/50 campaign? Ask everyone and anyone, don't make any barriers. Ask local businesses, friends family and everyone.
December 24, 2015 8:17 AM

A new staircase for Llinllin Pucara

Written by Rosali Vela

From the MEDLIFE office in Riobamba, Ecuador, we took a taxi to the bus station and a 1-hour bus to Columbe, another city near Riobamba, where MEDLIFE has held several mobile clinics and projects. We then spent 30 minutes on a truck to Llinllin, a community within Columbe that is so large, a community member says it had to be divided into several "llinllins”, Llinllin Colegio, Llinllín Las Juntas, Lllinllin Hierba Buena.

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“Llinllin is so big that it should be converted into a parroquia (district) instead of being part of Columbe" said the truck driver. “So many little Lllinllins communities confuses people, when actually all of the Llinllin communities are different."

Once we got to the outskirt of Llinllin, we saw the huge wall MEDLIFE built for the local school, thanks to the donations from our chapter at the University of Brown. After 20 more minutes driving, we finally got to the community of Llinllin Pucara.

Llinllín Pucara is home to just over 500 residents, most of whom have only completed their basic studies. In Llinllin Pucara, you find yourself surrounded by vast valleys and rivers making for a priceless view. At every corner, Llinllin Pucara's landscapes are breathtaking.

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The community, as we said before, is one of many "llinllins”. Although these network of small communities are a bit far away from each other, they often work together, especially when it comes to sharing resources.

One of the largest schools in the area is located in Llinllín Colegio where hundreds of students study. About a 20 minute drive away, in Llinllín Pucara, a smaller and humbler school is located, where just over 100 students fill their classrooms. The students that attend Llinllin Pucara live in remote communities and cannot make the trip to Llinllín Colegio, which takes over 1 hour each way.

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Pedro Yacosa, president of Llinllín Pucara, talked with us about how a new road allowing car access to their community has helped their local economy grow. "The main economic activity here is raising cattle, especially the production of milk and cheeses. There are still some families who grow corn and potatoes, but the production of milk and cheese is something that everyone here in Pucara Llinllín is proud of. Now with the new road, we are already selling our products in larger cities, and some large companies are purchasing our products to resell," he says.

Though these new and accessible roads provide safer access to community members' homes, using these roads to reach the local school from the Llinlin Pucara town takes 40 minutes to an hour of walking.

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Located about 400 meters above the new road, lies an old path that is still being used by many community members to save time. This old path shortens the commute to only 15-20 minutes. This old path, however, is quite dangerous, especially due to the poor conditions caused by Llinlin’s unpredictable climate and daily rain showers. Despite these dangers, many community members still opt to use this path to save them time. This leads to daily accidents due to mud and stone slides.

"This path is very important for us because it saves us a lot of time to get to the road and to the school from our town. Everyday we use this path and we cannot use it anymore in its current condition. We need to build a staircase to replace this path, a staircase that is safe and allows us to access the path without fear of falling down", says Pedro.

As we walked along this old path, we found ourselves slipping and nearly falling many times. Laughter from children also using the path surrounded us, as they watched us struggle. These children were much more experienced in using this path and knew how to navigate it with much more grace than we did.

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MEDLIFE is planning to build a large staircase along this path to help support this community. This staircase will be made during several mobile clinics in Riobamba. In addition, we will be building a hygiene project in the local school in Llinllin Pucara at the foot of the future stairs. Together with the community, MEDLIFE hopes to achieve its goal of giving the Llinllin Pucara community an improved quality of life and greater security for all.

December 22, 2015 3:49 PM

50:50 CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHT: Sarah Pisula

Written by Rosali Vela

Winter Mobile Clinics have just started and several students have been fundraising through the 50:50 campaign. This is one of the students who is working in the clinic. Her name is Sarah Pisula and she is from FSU. She had a successful campaign that enabled her to make her trip to Cusco this past week. For more information about the 50:50 campaign click here: 50:50 Campaign

438 Sarah Pisula 

How did you hear about the 50:50 Campaign? I heard about the 50:50 campaign through Florida State University Chapter

Why did you decided to do a 50:50 Campaign? I decided to do it because it wasn't only helping me for the trip, but I knew the whole point of the trip is to help others and to come here and to help the community and the fact that it was going towards me and the community, it was perfect.

How long was your campaign? My campaign was about month, so four weeks before coming here.

How money did you raised? How do you feel about that? I raised $1,800. It's honestly amazing. I had such a great support from family and friends. It's the most amazing thing, because they helped the community and me.

What did you do to me most successful with your 50:50 campaign? I sent e-mails out every day to family and friends. I shared it on Facebook and I also had my parents sharing it on theirs too. I also contacted friends from work and any other connection that I could get that I knew were going to be supportive of this trip.

Did you encounter any obstacles during the process and how did you overcome them? I did not face any obstacles, but I have to admit at first I was a little concern to raise this amount of money because it is kind of hard to just send something out asking for money, but I just wrote the reason why I wanted to go on the trip and it hit everyone's heart. It was honesty what I was writing about and why I wanted the support from them. It wasn't as awkward as I thought it was going to be at all.

How was organizing a positive experience and what did you learn from it? I learned that everyone sees the good in MEDLIFE and to purpose of it and I believe that this gave me the right opportunity to share that.

What do you think about your Volunteer Trip so far? It's been the most eye-opener experience that I've ever had. It's incredible to see how impactful every single thing is.

How do you feel about the impact that you made by raising the money for the people that you worked with this week? It feels awesome seeing it happen in person. Also witnessing the impact that it having on them it's just amazing. It makes me feel happy knowing that the money I raised will help them.

What advice you have for students organizing their own 50:50 campaign? I encourage everyone to do it because first of all, I learned so much from it. You get so much more out of the trip knowing that it's going to go towards something. It's awesome, and it's not even you it's the donations and all the people that are involved. Also it is very important to spread the word and use social media. 

December 22, 2015 8:02 AM

50:50 CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHT: Cole Davidson

Written by Rosali Vela

Winter Mobile Clinics have just started and several students have been fundraising through the 50:50 campaign. This is one of the students who is working in the clinic. His name is Cole Davidson and he is from FSU. He had a successful campaign that enabled him to make his trip to Tena this past week. For more information about the 50:50 campaign click here: 50:50 Campaign

437 cole davidson medlife 

How did you hear about the 50:50 Campaign? I heard about the 50/50 campaign through first couple MEDLIFE meetings. I understood that 50% of the proceeds that I had raised would go to the MEDLIFE campaign the rest would pay for my trip.

Why did you decide to organize this campaign? At first I thought it was the only way to do it, and so I thought why not? And I ended up doing the 50:50 campaign.

How long was your campaign? The campaign lasted about two to three months.

What did you do to make your campaign successful? I made a lot of calls, I asked people how they felt about donating to a good cause. I explained to them that by contributing to this campaign, they are taking a step towards helping in a very worthwhile effort. They are helping to bring about health equality in other countries.

Did you encounter any obstacles during this process? How did you overcome them? I did not encounter very many obstacles. When I talked with people about how lucky we are that we live in a country with a great health care system and how great it works for us and then explained that other people don’t have the luxury of healthcare, they easily understood why this campaign was important. It was not hard to explain to people that this kind of work is taking place all around the world and they can be part of it by contributing to the campaign. Even by talking to them and asking them to donate helped to make people aware of these issues.

How was organizing a 50:50 campaign a positive experience? What did you learn from it? Well, I had to get a lot more donations to be able to come on the trip, but at the same time, it felt more rewarding because I realized half of what I raised was used for a project to help one of the communities that MEDLIFE supports.

What do you think about your Volunteer Trip this week? Well I haven’t been on a mission trip in four years, so this was a very life changing experience. I haven’t done any trip on a scale such as this, spending a week in another country. I've only traveled internationally two or three times, so this was something completely out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what I was doing at first, and yes, I did feel a little uncomfortable through the week. But I have to say that I broke through those barriers. The relationships I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had have left an impact that I will not forget. I will cherish this experience long after I go back to America.

What advice do you have for students considering organizing a 50:50 campaign? Just remember that raising funds for these things is a step in the right direction. By organizing a 50:50 campaign you are helping to provide health care and helping to bring health equality. We have such great health care in the USA and maybe Ecuador or Peru do not, so by doing this you are taking a step in the right direction. You are helping to bring about health equality around the world.

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