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The MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic was back in Cusco last week, and in addition to providing medical care to rural communities, volunteers all lent a hand to a community development project there. This week, that meant continuing the work of a previous MEDLIFE group, which had built the foundation for a brand new auditorium at the San Judas Chico girls' home.

The enthusiastic volunteers made up a diverse group of students and grads, including a large group from the UC Davis MEDLIFE chapter. They worked hard all week, digging, mixing and pouring cement to finish the five columns that the structure needed. They also created a small vegetable garden nearby, and planted the first seeds.

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When they weren't busy working, the volunteers got to know the girls who live at the orphanage. With the girls practicing their braiding techniques, the volunteers arrived at the hotel each day with a new hairstyle. The young residents of the home, big fans of K-pop, were especially excited to find out that one volunteer, Justin, was Korean, and insisted on getting his autograph and photos.cuscojustin

At the end of the week, it was time to celebrate the completion of their hard work. Volunteers broke a bottle of champagne, and the girls got together to show their thanks with a special singing performance. Then it was time to say an emotional goodbye, with the girls asking when we would be back to see them. 

The next Cusco clinic group, in August, will be helping to construct a roof for the auditorium.

For more photos, check out the Facebook album.

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:

collagelimaclinicYesterday's clinic took place in Ventanilla, north of Lima, Peru. 

collagestairsStudents from schools including WVU, VCU, North Dakota and Purdue worked tirelessly to help build the first staircase in Buena Vista, a new settlement in Lima, and enjoyed getting to know the neighbors as they worked together.

Photos and interviews by Rachel Hoffman

silvia1First, Silvia checks in with a nurse, who writes down her basic information and creates her patient history.silvia2Mobile Clinic volunteers, with the supervision of a local nurse, take Silvia and Janice’s temperature, height, weight, and blood pressure.

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 doctorAt the doctor's station, a MEDLIFE doctor listens to the patient's symptoms and writes a prescription if necessary.pharmacyThe pharmacist dispenses antibiotics and multivitamins for Janice and iron supplements for Silvia.

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: 

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Photos by Luis Herrera

The Spring 2013 Mobile Clinic season kicked off yesterday with a Mobile Clinic in Villa El Salvador, Lima, Peru, staffed by enthusiastic volunteers from schools including University of Michigan, University of Florida, and Dominican University. Check out some photo highlights below, and stay tuned for more updates from the clinics happening this week in Lima and Esmeraldas, Ecuador!cliniccollage1clinicgroupcliniccollage2

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We just received these photos from Ccaccaccollo, a community outside Cusco, Peru, where we constructed new bathroom facilities starting in August. The community has been putting the finishing touches on the project, and school director Maria Teresa Flores tells us, "The bathrooms look great, and the kids and I are very grateful to MEDLIFE for completing this project." 

Our three Ecuador Summer Interns have recently arrived in country and are starting off their first week with a Mobile Clinic in Tena, Ecuador. Below, a photo update from one of our interns, Jennie Tian, reflecting her view of the first few days of our July 2012 Mobile Clinic in Tena:

tena collage1 setup

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Check out our photo update from this week's mobile clinic in Lima, Peru! We're half way through the week, and looking forward to seeing more patients in different communities tomorrow and Friday:

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MEDLIFE has been working in Pamplona Alta since March 2010.  The majority of Mobile Clinics and MEDLIFE Fund projects in Peru serve the communities of Pamplona Alta.  Zenobia Gonsalves, our media intern in Lima, captured the shots below.
Located in the hills surrounding Lima, Pamplona Alta is a shantytown or Pueblo Joven characterized by conditions of extreme poverty and a lack of infrastructural development.  Now housing more than 20,000 residents, it was first populated in the 1990's when massive numbers of Peruvians immigrated to Lima from the rural countryside -- either displaced by the Shining Path terrorism that marked this decade, or looking for better opportunity in Peru's capital city.
Dirt paths crisscross the valley walls, reaching the families who reside at the top -- a long climb from the main avenue below.  Can you spot the 3 MEDLIFE staircases?
Prior to this flood of immigration, Pamplona Alta was occupied by other residents -- pigs.  Pig farming remains to be one of the primary industries of the region.  Currently the small ranches, or chancherias, occupy the most expensive real estate on the valley floor, while the human population resides higher on the valley walls, with entire communities resting on steep, rocky slopes.  Typically owned by Peruvians living outside of Pamplona Alta, the chancherias contribute both an unpleasant odor and large amounts of waste to the valley.  Above, a pig rests in his shelter.
The pig pens of the chancherias mix with the housing for local families.
Though they may more closely resemble tool sheds than houses, entire families (and in some houses, multiple families) reside in these small shacks.  As evidence above, most houses rest on makeshift walls of loose rock -- or worse, discarded car tires.  The potential earthquake damage instills great fear among residents, and as such the Peruvian government is attempting to add retention walls to Pamplona Alta's steepest slopes.
Water and sewage lines haven't yet reached the vast majority of the valley's communities.  Water trucks, run by private companies, deliver water on a daily basis.  This system is marked both by its high expense (water costs 10 times as much as it does in areas where lines exist), and the possibility of contamination, both from the trucks themselves and the dirty containers in which it is stored.  Families who don't live by the roads accessed by the water trucks must haul water to their home, bucket by bucket.
The lack of sewage lines means that residents use outhouses -- holes in the ground that sometimes are left unsealed.  The seepage of this sewage into the ground leads to high rates of parasitic infections, particularly among children who often spend their free time playing in the dirt.
A rooster surveys the valley floor.  Many families raise hens to supplement their diet, or sell at market.
The community of Minas 2000 received MEDLIFE's first-ever stair project.  Why? When six months pregnant, the woman residing on the green house on the left fell on the rocky slope outside of her home, prompting an extremely premature birth.  MEDLIFE has sought proper treatment for the child, who is now a healthy 2 year old, but wanted to do more to prevent future accidents.  The first project was greeted by strong enthusiasm by Minas 2000 and neighboring communities, and MEDLIFE hasn't stopped building stairs since!
A recently completed staircase sports a MEDVIDA logo.
A private (though free to attend) high school sits in stark contrast to the painted houses below it.  The school was built and is partly run by a Catholic aid organization, but currently half of the classrooms remain empty because the government is unable to supply a full teaching staff.
A government-sponsored nursery adds color to the hillside.
The valley floor of Pamplona Altra stretches towards the more developed center of Lima.  Government services and infrastructural projects such as paved roads, retention walls, water and sewage lines, and electrical grids are slowly creeping into the valley.  Hopefully, the families of Pamplona Alta will soon be receiving the services and structural development that their neighboring city-dwellers enjoy.
All photos Zenobia Gonsalves.  Text by Tommy Flint.

MEDLIFE has been working in Pamplona Alta since March 2010.  The majority of Mobile Clinics and MEDLIFE Fund projects in Peru serve the communities of Pamplona Alta.  Zenobia Gonsalves, our media intern in Lima, captured the shots below.

pamplona1

Located in the hills surrounding Lima, Pamplona Alta is a shantytown, or pueblo joven, characterized by conditions of extreme poverty and a lack of infrastructural development.  Now housing more than 20,000 residents, it was first populated in the 1990's when massive numbers of Peruvians immigrated to Lima from the rural countryside -- either displaced by the Shining Path terrorism that marked this decade, or looking for better opportunity in Peru's capital city.


pamplona2

Dirt paths crisscross the valley walls, reaching the families who reside at the top -- a long climb from the main avenue below.  Can you spot the three MEDLIFE staircases?

pamplona3

Published in Community Profiles