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The summer Mobile Clinic trip season is officially underway, with simultaneous clinics and development projects happening this week in Lima, Peru and Tena, Ecuador. Check out some photo highlights from the past few days in Lima:
Photos and interviews by Rachel Hoffman
Silvia Huafatoca came to a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in Tena, Ecuador last December with her 2-year old daughter, Janice. The clinic took place in a schoolhouse just down the street from the small house she shares with her husband, daughter, parents, and three siblings. Having never heard of MEDLIFE before, Silvia approached the clinic cautiously, and was relieved to find out that doctors and medications would be provided free of charge.
"My daughter has a cough right now," she told us. "I'm glad the doctors came here, close to my house, because sometimes we can't get to the clinic." She said the cost of transportation (40 cents each way for a two-hour bus ride) and time spent waiting at the closest health clinic often prevent her from going. When Janice was just one year old, Silvia took her there for a bad cough, and she was diagnosed with pneumonia and given antibiotics. Between the ride and the wait times, going to the doctor took a full day, and sometimes Silvia didn't have time or money for treatment. "This was a better experience, it's a lot closer," she said of the Mobile Clinic. "You just go to the doctor here, and the pharmacy's right over there!"
Last week, students from universities all over the United States traveled to Tena, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, to participate in a Mobile Clinic! Check out some photo highlights below:
Photos by Luis Herrera
In Ecuador, MEDLIFE is wrapping up its second Mobile Clinic of the spring break season. This week we're working in communities outside of Riobamba:
Last week, MEDLIFE also completed our first ever Mobile Clinic in the community of Esmeraldas -- on Ecuador's Northern Coast. We received a warm welcome from the communities near Esmeraldas, and had one of the biggest turnouts that MEDLIFE Director of Ecuador Martha Chicaiza has seen in the country. Local magazines and news channels came out to interview Martha and the MEDLIFE crew about our plans to continue work in the area.
The city municipality also invited MEDLIFE to meet the Mayor of Esmeraldas, who explained more about the region and even gifted students with t-shirts, inviting them to return for Carnaval. During the final clinic day, the mayor also presided over the inauguration of our first staircase project in Esmeraldas (which couldn't be 100% completed during the clinic week due to heavy rains). Residents from the community treated students to a presentation of their traditional music, marimba, as well as dancing and a communal lunch.
MEDLIFE is excited to be off to a great start in Esmeraldas, and looking forward to a continued partnership with communities in this area.
The MEDLIFE team in Ecuador is off to a great start with our first-ever Mobile Clinic in Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Although we are just starting to build a presence in Esmeraldas, staff members on the ground noted that attendance at the clinic has been very high so far, with some patients walking an hour or more to arrive at the clinic sites. According to MEDLIFE Director Martha Chicaiza, the clinic on Tuesday was one of the busiest that she's ever seen in all of Ecuador.
Students are also completing a staircase construction project at a site a bit outside of the city center. As we see in Lima, many of the communities surrounding Esmeraldas have also been built on steep inclines. Navigating the terrain is further complicated by the weather in Esmeraldas; the region experiences year-round tropical showers and flooding. In some cases, residents' entire feet sink deep into the mud as they attempt the climb up to their homes.
Esmeraldas was considerably affected by the El Niño events of the late 1990s, when mudslides caused explosions, fatalities, and environment damage due to ruptured pipe lines. Communities rebuilt slowly, and the tourism industry – once an important part of the economy – is still recovering.
MEDLIFE's first staircase in this area is large, yet work began with a slow start on Monday due to heavy rains. On Tuesday, with ample sunshine, students and community members were able to make much greater progress mixing and setting the cement. We hope that the weather will allow us to continue to move forward, and complete the project by the end of the week.
Esmeraldas is a port city located on the northwest coast of Ecuador. The city is home to the majority of the Afro-Ecuadorian population; the province is the most ethnically-diverse in the nation. The main exports are wood and agricultural resources, yet the establishment of Esmeraldas as Ecuador's largest oil refinery has also turned it into an important commercial center. In a meeting with MEDLIFE staff members in November of 2012, residents of Esmeraldas reported drug abuse, pregnancy at a young age, and lack of access to medical care as issues that desperately need to be addressed.
For more information on the community of Esmeraldas, please read the blog from our first visit here.
The MEDLIFE McGill student group will be instagramming their experiences during the week here.