January 6, 2014 4:49 PM

Meet the Staff: Dina Cayllahue Jimenez

Written by Ebony Bailey

Dina Cayllahue Jimienez is a field-nurse who has been working with MEDLIFE for the past eight months. Read more about Dina below:

dina thumbWhere are you from?
I was born and raised in Arequipa and moved to Lima 18 years ago.

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?
Last year I had a patient whom I was treating almost every day. We were very close, like good friends. Around eight months ago, a former nurse from MEDLIFE saw that I was treating the patient and asked if I’d be interested in helping out the MEDLIFE team, since they were looking for new recruits. I gladly accepted. Unfortunately, that patient passed away a few months ago from breast cancer, but I still have all the memories with her in my heart.

What do you like the most about working with MEDLIFE?
I spend most of my time doing patient follow-up, so for me my favorite part is just working with the patients. I love seeing the improvements that they make with the treatment that we give them. Right now I have 15 patients and it’s great seeing how far they’ve come since when I first met them.

Can you name a patient who has had a strong impact on you?
Our patient Luis Poma has had a great impact on me. He’s a six year old boy with muscular dysplasia, so he’s unable to walk. When we gave him his wheelchair, he and his family were very happy. That wheelchair will benefit him greatly as he grows up into a young man, and it’s all thanks to our supporters. It wouldn’t be possible without them.

dina blog

What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy going to the movies, listening to music, going on walks and spending time with my 12-year-old son and my sister.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to encourage everyone to continue helping others and giving back. Also be sure to take care of yourselves and do what you can to have the best health.


November 26, 2013 2:44 PM

Meet the Interns Year-long 2013-14 Part 3

Written by Ebony Bailey

Meet our new MEDLIFE year-long interns! Part 3!

jdaitonName: Joanna Dainton
Hometown: Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK
School: University of Leeds
Major: Politics BA
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I got involved with MEDLIFE after seeing a presentation by Nick Ellis at the University of Leeds; I was in my final year of a Politics degree and couldn’t see what I was going to do with it. After hearing about the work MEDLIFE does in South America I realised that this would be an opportunity to experience some of the abstract concepts I’d spent four years studying, in reality.
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was solidified in my car journey from the airport to the neighborhood where MEDLIFE is based, from the chaos of 8AM traffic: bumper to bonnet cars, bikes and buses all beeping at eachother while constantly changing lanes, to speeding past the Costa Verde with gorgeous beaches and the first surfers of the day, and finally into the relative tranquillity of Surco district with palm treesand flower beds. It seems to me it's a city with many different faces. 

My favorite part so far: My favourite part has been the surreal lunch of raw fish-ceviche- a couple of hours after landing, with the other interns whose faces I knew from video calling but had never met before, bizarrely I feel like I’ve been here for ages.

asharplesName: Arthur Sharples
Hometown: Oxford, England
School: University of Liverpool
Major: History

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I stumbled across the organisation whilst looking for something to do for my year abroad.

Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in Oxford, England. I became interested in this kind of work when I travelled to South Africa, after finishing high school. While I was there I worked on an academic study in the peripheral Townships of Cape Town. The poorer areas that the work took me to, whilst being some of the most vibrant and energetic that I've seen, opened my eyes to the realities of poverty.  

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I was interested in coming to South America and doing something practical, so it seemed perfect.

What was your first impression of Lima?: It's huge and there are a lot of cars, but it has a great energy to it and a landscape like nothing I've seen before.  


ebeattieName: Elizabeth Beattie
Hometown: Inverness, Scotland 
School: University of Aberdeen
Major: Politics and International Relations
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: Nick (founder of MEDLIFE) got in touch with me with the idea of bringing MEDLIFE to my University as I was President of a society that held similar projects on a smaller scale; volunteering in local initiatives. I became aware of MEDLIFE’s year-long internship programme and jumped at the opportunity to work with such a worthwhile organisation. I am passionate about helping others and through this work I can learn firsthand about alleviating poverty, whilst also experiencing the rich South American culture.

Tell us a little about yourself: I am currently in my third year of studies but decided to take a year out in order to gain practical experience of the issues discussed in my classes to gain a more rounded understanding. I have a passion for travel and experiencing cultures outside of my own and my goal in life is to work with local communities to help alleviate poverty and key to this is to understand how other cultures work. I have seen so many times how badly ‘international aid’ can be done and I am enthused to be working with an organisation that is doing it the right way: working with local doctors, community leaders and representatives and listening to the people on the ground.

My favorite part so far: Visiting the various communities MEDLIFE works with has been very interesting. Understanding the differences between these, seemingly similar, communities is very important in order to provide the most beneficial relief. Following the process from the first meeting with new communities right through to the completed staircase projects and continued in patient follow-up has been an eye-opening experience into how to conduct aid the right way. 
October 31, 2013 3:03 PM

Meet the Staff: Ruth Varona

Written by Ebony Bailey

Ruth Varona is a certified nursing assistant who first joined our team as a volunteer in 2010. She now works with us as a Patient Follow-Up Coordinator and Field Nurse. Read more about her story below:

ruthblogagainWhere are you from?
I’m from Lima. I was born here and raised in the district of San Juan de Miraflores.

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?
I started out a few years ago volunteering for Mobile Clinics at the pharmacy station for a few hours a week. After a while, I began to work at the office a few times a week as well. Later, as we started to gain more patients, MEDLIFE asked me if I would like to join the organization as a full-time nurse. Now, when there aren’t Mobile Clinics, I am visiting patients several times a week.


What do you like about working with MEDLIFE?

I really like working at the Mobile Clinics because I am able to meet new patients. I love listening to their needs and learning about what we can do to help. It’s the starting point of building relationships with the patients. More than anything, what I love about this job is helping people improve their health. Good health is the foundation for a good life.

What is a problem you find most frequently at Mobile Clinics?
The dogs! There are dogs everywhere. But in all seriousness, one problem I find frequently is that many people do not know their own bodies. That is to say, when patients feel something wrong with their bodies, they often times don’t know where that problem is coming from. Many people are just not oriented with what is going on with their bodies. This is something that I try to teach to people during Mobile Clinics.

ruthforblogWhat do you like to do in your free time?
I have a 1-year-old son, so my free time is spent with him. Whether it’s playing with him or changing his diapers, I love spending time with him as I watch him grow up.

Anything else you would like to add?
I just wanted to say that I am very glad that you all (the interns) have come here to Peru to learn more about this country and meet the people here. Never forget that there is always someone to help; there are always people in need. 

October 22, 2013 12:15 PM

Meet the Staff: Lucia Suarez

Written by Ebony Bailey

Lucia Suarez is a certified nurse who first began volunteering with MEDLIFE in February as a leader for a staircase project in her community. Now she joins us as both a patient follow-up coordinator and field nurse. Learn more about Lucia below:

luciameetstaffWhere are you from?

I was born in Ayacucho, a small town in the mountain ranges of Peru, but I have lived in Lima for the past eight years. I like it here, but I will never forget the language, food and traditions of my hometown.

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?

I first got involved with MEDLIFE in February when I volunteered as a community leader for a staircase project MEDLIFE was working on in my community. That’s when I met Carlos, and from there I began volunteering for other staircase projects around the community. One day, Carlos asked me what I do for work, and I told him that I am a technical nurse. He then asked me if I would like to join MEDLIFE full-time. I’ve now been working as a nurse in the office for three months.

Can you name a patient that has had a strong impact on you?

Everyone we help has had a strong impression on me, as they all have very powerful stories. One of those patients in particular is Selvestrina, a lady from the mountains who speaks Quechua. As I also speak Quechua, Selvestrina and I are able to communicate well in the language. Although she has gone through many hardships, she always still has a smile on her face. Her house was robbed, her son was killed, and her husband left her to return to living in the mountains, but she always moves forward with a huge smile on her face. This is something that really touches my heart.

Are there things that still surprise you?luciaselvestrina1Lucia walking hand in hand and with her
patient, Selvestrina.

Almost all of the cases of the patients still surprise me, especially those of children. There are many children who don’t eat the way they are supposed to eat and have many health problems because of that. There are other children who don’t have proper adult supervision. It breaks my heart to see amount of poverty and hardship that happens in these communities.

What do you do on your free time?

Well, I’m always helping people. On the weekends after work, I help an elderly woman in my community with chores around her house and other tasks. And on the weekends, I’m involved with the elective board in my community. So I don’t really have “free time” per say, since I am always busy, but helping people is what I enjoy doing the most.

What do you like working about MEDLIFE?

Working for MEDLIFE means a lot for me. It’s a place where all of the staff and interns are side-by-side working for the greater good. Everyone is always committed and has a smile on their faces. And overall I just love being a general helping hand and serving people in need.

To learn more about Lucia’s work and our Patient Follow-Up program, click here.


September 23, 2013 8:55 AM

Meet the Interns Year-long 2013-14 Part 2

Written by Rosali Vela

Meet our new MEDLIFE year-long interns! Part 2!

ebaileyName: Ebony Bailey
Hometown: Porterville, California
School: University of Southern California
Major: Print and Digital Journalism
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I volunteered a Mobile Clinic two years ago in Tena, Ecuador with my university -- my first time overseas. It was a wonderful experience and I’m excited to be involved with MEDLIFE again.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I’m very interested in digital media and wanted to apply my skills to a good cause, while also improving my Spanish. MEDLIFE’s media internship seemed like the perfect mixture of all three!
What was your first impression of Lima?: The traffic is crazy! But  it’s also part of the personality and charm of this city. This city is huge and I love the sprawl -- every neighborhood is a new place of discovery. Though I’ve only been here a week, it seems like it’s been months. I’m excited to explore much more of Lima and to see where the rest of this journey takes me.

My favorite part so far: Seeing the collaboration between community members in los pueblos jovenes and MEDLIFE staff when working on development projects. I love how they are so driven and passionate about making positive change in their communities. It’s empowering to see such community mobilization.

nmillwardName: Nicole Millward
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
School: McGill University
Major: Psychology and Cell Biology
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I first got involved with MEDLIFE at McGill University, the first MEDLIFE Chapter in Canada, and was President for two years. I've been lucky enough to attend Clinics in both Tena and Lima, both amazing experiences! 
Why did you decide to become an intern?: The most meaningful part of my University experience was my involvement with MEDLIFE, and I am excited to be able to see how it works on the ground. There is no other cause that I would feel as confident pursuing, and I am grateful for a chance to further contribute to the organization. 
What was your first impression of Lima?: When I first got to Lima I was amazed by the size of the city and the differences between the neighbourhoods. After spending some time here I've grown to love the unique places I've found, as well as be excited for the neighbourhoods I have yet to discover! 

My favorite part so far: My favourite part of working with MEDLIFE so far has been getting a chance to go to the field with Carlos. The interns are helping with the construction of a staircase in a community, and I'm grateful for a chance to understand how the process works from start to finish! 

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