September 2, 2016 5:41 PM

Foundations For A Future: Kirua Campaign

Written by Sarah Bridge

Over the next few months, MEDLIFE staff, interns and chapters all over the world will be working to fundraise for Kirua Schoolhouse in Tanzania.  MEDLIFE discovered the school in August 2015 when we set up our first mobile clinic in this community.  One of the three pillars of MEDLIFE is education and in fundraising for this project we are keen to also raise awareness of the importance of education in underdeveloped communities.  The fundraiser is designed to last for the duration of the first four months of the school semester.  Each month will focus on a different aspect of the project; education, sanitation, food hygiene and infrastructure.  We will also be promoting a different educational day each month to raise awareness of the issues we are trying to help resolve.

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In September, we are focusing on the necessity of having a clean, comfortable space to work in and in this way, we hope to provide the school with 29 desks and chairs to allow for easier access to learning.  120 students attend the school every day and the current lack of desks is resulting in many resorting to working on the floor.  It may seem like a small thing but not having a desk to work on can do a lot to hinder a child's ability and willingness to learn.  In order to raise awareness of this issue, the education day we are promoting in September will be ‘Day Without A Desk'.  The aim is to challenge students from MEDLIFE chapters to spend a day at their own college without access to desk space to work on.  This will not only raise awareness of why it is so important for us to fundraise for this cause but will also help students to understand struggles they would otherwise never come into contact with.   

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In October we will be focusing on sanitation and how it can impact a learning environment as well as why it is important for students to be educated on this issue.  In Tanzania, only 3% of schools have access to basic commodities such as electricity, water and sanitary bathrooms.  Despite there being 120 students at Kirua School, there is no bathroom and no safe place to get clean water.  This lack of sanitation is very dangerous and causes 2900 deaths every day worldwide.  We plan to build a bathroom for the school with sanitary facilities for the children to wash their hands, access clean drinking water to fill bottles and even brush their teeth.  To raise awareness of this issue in October, MEDLIFE college students will be encouraged to take part in our ‘Tally for Tanzania' educational day where they will be asked to make a note in a tally every time they use their bathroom facilities around campus.  Again, we hope that this will raise awareness for students, friends and family and will demonstrate the importance of raising money for this cause.

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November and December will be focusing on food hygiene and infrastructure respectively with the aim of raising money for a new kitchen, the final aspect of the school that needs drastic improvement.  We will be keeping our website and social media pages up to date with the progress of the fundraising and stories from different chapters and MEDLIFE offices about how each education day turns out and how the project is going as a whole.  Due to the importance of these educational days in the overall success of the fundraiser, we will be really pushing for greater involvement from MEDLIFE chapters around the world and will be hoping to keep our social media updated with information from all different schools about what they are doing to promote the cause.

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This is one of the most ambitious fundraising projects we have attempted so far and we are hoping that it will be a chance for many different MEDLIFE chapters to work together for a rewarding end goal.  Overall, we are hoping to raise $11,500 over the 4 months to enable the children at this school and the surrounding community to be given the amenities and support they need to learn in a safe and sanitary environment.

To donate towards this project click here.

Jorge's ramp is complete! The MEDLIFE Summer Intern 2016 project was inaugurated yesterday, and Jorge used his ramp for the first time. After fundraising over $700 in 7 hours, the project construction began: his home transformed and we were able to add the ramp, redo the roof and frontal structures, add plants and paint the exterior! Jorge is now able to leave his wheelchair-accessible home and is no longer confined to staying inside despite his limited mobility. He is excited to be able to play with his son and engage with his family outdoors. Thank you to all donors - it is because of you that we were able to make a positive impact on Jorge's family. 

1Before reconstruction: Jorge Sanchez's son stands outside his family's home, a home with such an unsafe entrance, that his father is confined to staying inside due to his limited mobility. The grounds prior to reconstruction were uneven, dangerous and definitely not wheelchair-accessible.

2 1Measurements for the new ramp were being taken to ensure that Jorge could roll his wheelchair down the entrance as safely as possible. This ramp would change his life; allowing Jorge to enter and exit as he wishes despite his cerebral atrophy.

 

3 1MEDLIFE Summer interns worked on Jorge's home this week, building the ramp they are standing on in this photo. After fundraising over $700 in 7 hours, the extra funds went towards repainting, adding plants, reconstructing the frontal house structure and replacing the roof.

4 1MEDLIFE Summer intern, Yash Diwan, is digging holes for the plants that were planted as the final step of this project.

5 1Prior to painting the house: the concrete ramp was constructed efficiently, designed with stairs on one side and a ramp on the other. The roof has been replaced, windows have been built, and a new exterior has been constructed. These improvements will provide Jorge's family with a safer and improved living environment.

6 1MEDLIFE Summer interns, Eliza Gomez & Ian McHale painting the new frontal structure of Jorge's home. Painting the house offered a new landscaping to accompany Jorge's ramp.

7 1MEDLIFE interns at work: some are painting, some are sweeping dirt off of the ramp and some are digging holes for planting. The house took two coats of paint and the ramp was to be painted with a white double layer.

8 1MEDLIFE Summer interns with MEDLIFE project engineers, Director of MEDprograms Peru, Carlos Benavides and Jorge Sanchez along with his family. The group sits on the final, completed ramp in front of Jorge's newly designed home exterior.

9 1MEDLIFE Summer intern, Georgina Mezher, joins Jorge's wife in inaugurating the completed ramp project, after saying a final few words. Everyone is happy to watch Jorge use his ramp for the first time.

10 1The final, completed ramp project for Jorge Sanchez and his family. His wife speaks on behalf of his family's happiness and gratitude for MEDLIFE's help in improving their daily lifestyle through this ramp. His wife states, "Now my son can play with his father outside, and my husband can enjoy his time with the kids."

July 22, 2016 8:48 AM

A Food Cart for Camila's Mum

Written by Sarah Bridge

Camila is 4 years old and suffers from cerebral palsy which she contracted aged 1 year and 2 months as a result of an intraparenchymal hemorrhage.  Her illness means that Camila is unable to move or communicate with anyone around her.

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Tatiana is Camila's mother and primary carer.  She gave up school and then work for Camila and, until recently has been working at a local market selling honey and coffee in order to pay for the medication Camila needs.  Camila is in constant need of attention and therapy and it falls on Tatiana to make sure she gets all the treatment necessary to deal with her illness.

MEDLIFE have been working with Camila and her family for over a year and since then have been able to contribute to the medication Camila needs.  However, one of the biggest issues Tatiana faces is having to balance earning money to afford Camila's treatment with being around to care for Camilla.  Tatiana told MEDLIFE that one of the most useful things would be for her to be able to work close enough to home that she could bring money in whilst also being able to take care of Camila.

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One of the pillars of the MEDLIFE ideology is sustainable development and support, therefore, MEDLIFE made it our mission to make this hope of Tatiana's a reality.  We fundraised to buy a sandwich cart for Tatiana that would allow her to make and sell sandwiches directly outside her house.  After raising the $1000 required thanks to the support of the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras and individual donors,  last week we were able to deliver the sandwich cart to its new owner.

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Tatiana told us what a difference this would make to hers and Camila's lives.  She told us how “[Camila] needs help almost every hour of the day.  I can't leave to work or go out with anyone.  This cart will help me get back my independence and will enable me to earn the money I need to deal with Camila's condition”.

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This year's summer volunteer affairs interns were lucky enough to be Tatiana's first customers and enjoyed chicken and beef burgers and vegetarian sandwiches from Tatiana's cart on Friday afternoon.  Volunteer affairs intern Alexa Friedman said “being one of Tatiana's customers really showed me how the work MEDLIFE does is personal and sustainable. It made me proud to be interning for this kind of non-profit.”  This opinion seemed to be shared by many of the interns who seemed happy to be able to partake in what will hopefully be a life changing moment with Tatiana, Camila and the rest of their family.  Tatiana Gerena, another intern told us how “being able to support Tatiana from start to finish was so great. Her sandwiches were delicious and I have to admit that I went back for seconds!”

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June 28, 2016 11:44 AM

New Projects at CCAPA Nursery School

Written by Sarah Bridge

MEDLIFE has been involved with the Cuna Jardin Virgen del Buen Paso nursery project for over a year now and in this time have refurbished much of the interior to create a more hygienic space, have built a wall to enable the children to have a safe area to play and created a slope to allow easy and safe access to the nursery.  Last week, the MEDLIFE mobile clinic was working on developing a garden in an area of land outside the nursery to allow the children to have a green space to run around in and play in the fresh air.  

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Our summer volunteer affairs interns and volunteers at last week's mobile clinic were out in the field helping with the conversion of this area of wasteland into a green space that is safe for the children to play in.  After removing all the dirt and trash from this area, the process of constructing the garden could begin.  

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During the week we got a chance to visit the children in the nursery to find out more about how this area will benefit them.  The nursery has around 350 children attending every day aged six months to five years old.  There are six classrooms to separate the children according to their ages and abilities.  The youngest children spend most of their time playing with toys and learning about the world around them.

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The elder children do more active learning.  One class was being taught about how to behave in school, another was practicing handwriting and others were creating pictures for their fathers for ‘Día de los Papas'.

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Each class we visited sang us a song and some even included a dance!  All the children seemed so happy to be spending time with their friends and teachers and to be able to perform to us.  

For Tatiana Gerena, it was even more special to see this project in its final stages as her brother, Rolando Gerena, was the volunteer affairs intern who began the project last summer.  Rolando (known affectionately as Roly at the nursery) fundraised via social media after he saw the state of the play area outside the daycare centre on a visit he took with fellow interns.     

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The nursery is located in San Juan de Miraflores, a district that contains some of the most impoverished communities in Lima.  The headteacher explained to us why it was so important for the children to have this area to play in due to the state of the community around the centre.  “It is not a safe community and the parents want to know that they have somewhere safe to leave their children.  Many of these parents work every day and so knowing their children have a safe building and a good place to get fresh air is very important to them”

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We also spoke to some of the children who told us how they were looking forward to the park being finished.  4 year old Luciel told us  “When it is raining, I like to play inside.  But if it is sunny, it would be nice to be able to play outside”.

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Previously, the only outside playing space the daycare centre had was a small playground that was fenced in.  Now the children have a large green area to run around in, get fresh air and enjoy the outside.

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On the day of the inauguration, all the children were very excited to see the completed outside area and the finishing touches that had been added to the wall.  The day had a feeling of celebration and festivity about it with balloons hanging around the nursery, speeches from different parties and performances from the children.  

The headteacher told all the volunteers and MEDLIFE interns what the garden meant to the school.  She said “I want to thank you all so much for all your hard work.  It means alot to us to see people like you coming here and caring enough about our small community to build something like this for our children.”

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May 24, 2016 10:25 AM

New Projects in Marangu, Tanzania

Written by Jake Kincaid

Marangu is a lush green rural Tanzanian town tucked in the shadows of the mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro. Residents walk its unpaved roads with loads of produce in tow, shouting “jambo” (hello in Swahili) to passersby on the way to sell off whatever surplus they may have of maize, coffee, plantains, avocadoes, or mangoes, the economic mainstays of the community. The trip is long to get to the market or hospital, several kilometres of walking and then hitching a ride on the public bus. In the rainy seasons, monsoons pound the roads into sludge and a 4x4 is necessary to gain access to the town.

When MEDLIFE visited for a 2016 Mobile Clinic, we found little infrastructure, and what did exist was in a state of dilapidation and disrepair. Modern bathrooms had been constructed at the local primary school by another NGO, but they had neglected to follow up with the community. The plumbing was not functioning, and no one in the community had the resources to bring in a plumber. As a result, the bathrooms had sat and festered, unused.

Many of the houses were very poorly constructed and offered little shelter from monsoons. One particularly dismal case was brought to our attention when during a mobile clinic, an 84 year-old woman wrapped in colorful cloth came in named Elianasia and asked us for help with her bathroom.

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MEDprograms Associate Amber Pariona was on clinic that day and followed her through the jungle to see her bathroom. It was hard for Elianasia to walk so far, her leg was causing her pain. She lived all alone, all of her children had gone seperate ways and were not caring for her. Her husband died tragically in 1962. When Amber saw the rest of her house, she was surprised she was only asking for a bathroom.

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Her kitchen was a fireplace sheltered by some wood poles and tattered rags, the bathroom was a hole in the ground covered by a small wooden board, which was being slowly devoured by ants and appeared it may collapse into the hole next time it was used. She did not have a room anywhere that could provide shelter from the rain. During monsoon season, she slept on a wet bed and tried to cook in the rain. 

Before Amber left, Elianasia spit into her hand and rubbed it on Amber's forehead as a way of giving her a blessing. Elianasia left a strong impression on Amber, whom she remembers for having the best laugh in the world; high energy and contagious despite her circumstances. 

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After visiting Marangu, and meeting community leaders, MEDLIFE decided to do several projects in the community. MEDLIFE is going to bring in a plumber to fix the bathrooms at the local school, as well as construct offices for the teachers there so they have a space to work. Finally MEDLIFE is going to construct a new home for Elianasia, who deserves to live in a comfortable and safe home. 

"I will be very happy if you can provide for me a house where I can stay," said Elianasia. "I am praying for you, so that god may bless you in everything that you do, thank you very much." 

Thank you to GoodLife Travels for donating the money MEDLIFE needs for these projects! GoodLife Travels is a travel agency that donates at least 5% of all profits to MEDLIFE to make projects like this possible. 

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