MEDLIFE is proud to announce an alliance with LATAM Airlines to fight against anemia in communities throughout Peru. With the support of an international airline, our Movement is able to expand our medical, education, and development work to new communities and empower hundreds of people in the fight for a world free from the constraints of poverty. 

Keep reading to learn more! 

Anemia: Malnutrition in Impoverished Communities 

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Anemia is a condition when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells, causing fatigue, hunger pains, pale complexion, and a host of other side effects. It is a global issue that impacts a large portion of Peru’s rural populations, mainly due to poor diet and living conditions caused by poverty. In fact, a census conducted by the Integrated Food Security Program (PISA) in Chiclayo identified that the prevalence of anemia was found to be 15% higher in communities considered ‘poor’ (1) — such as the ones where MEDLIFE works. 

In Peru, some studies have been conducted on the prevalence of anemia in rural areas, of which two groups prevail: children from 0 to 5 years of age and adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age (2).

The condition can largely be attributed to iron deficiency, occurring in both children and adolescents because they are in a period of rapid growth. During these growth stages, the body requires more iron and its deficiency could have two main negative effects on the person: decreased cognitive development and productivity. 

1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/15648265060274S406 
2. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3402/gha.v7.22888?scroll=top&needAccess=true

Building an Alliance 

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With the goal of connecting their primary platform, travel, and a larger social impact, LATAM Airlines Peru joined the Pachacutec Foundation to launch Cocineros que Vuelvan - Chefs that Fly - which aims to support young people in their dream of becoming a chef and in turn give back to their communities. The winners were selected to study at a top culinary school and as part of the award receives a Mobile Clinic in their home community. That’s where we step in. 

LATAM Airlines and MEDLIFE joined together to identify schools in the cities of Ayacucho, Jauja, and Jaén — the home communities of the winners — where we could work hand in hand to prevent and reduce iron deficiency in anemia.  

Our educational efforts will continue for two full academic years, during which time our MEDLIFE medical professionals will provide nutrition education workshops - for both parents and students. As with any of our educational workshops, we focus on teaching about how to live healthier lives, make intelligent decisions about their diet, and trying to implement a culture of preventative care. 

Spread across six schools in the three communities, our team of nurses is working hand in hand with 124 children to teach good nutritional habits and the benefits of eating well. Additionally, we are making home visits and hosting parent workshops to encourage families to support our efforts at home. 

LATAM Airlines has, in turn, supported us both financially and by giving our work recognition. The backing of an international airline extends our credibility and connects our organization with new opportunities to bridge the gap between impoverished communities and quality healthcare and education

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As our alliance continues, we hope to expand our reach and continue working toward our goal of preventing anemia in communities in Peru. More updates to come soon!

To provide long-term, quality healthcare, MEDLIFE’s work goes beyond a week of service - and facilities like the MED Vida Dental Clinic are a great example of how our efforts are made possible. Fully staffed by local dentists, MED Vida has proven to be a positive impact for hundreds of community members where we work in Lima, Peru

Keep reading to learn about the dental clinic’s story!  

MED Vida’s Foundation

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During a Mobile Clinic, the dental station is often the most requested services. However, due to a limited number of staff and supplies, dentists are only able to treat 15 patients a day. Furthermore, they are only able to offer basic treatments. 

Prior to the construction of MED Vida, if a patient required further treatment our team would be unable to provide the much-needed care at the clinic site. And while patients would be enrolled in our Patient Follow-Up Program, they often had to travel far from their community to receive quality dental care. Our team of professionals felt there must be a better solution.   

Thus, it was decided that a full-service, permanent dental clinic would be built in an easily accessible location for the communities MEDLIFE works with. In February 2018, we opened an office centrally located in the district of Villa María del Triunfo - where you can find hundreds of communities and over 3,000 community members that directly benefit from MEDLIFE’s work. With its convenient location, many of these community members can easily commute to the clinic to receive dental care. 

A Positive Impact

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Open six days a week, our Movement can now provide quality dental health to dozens of patients each week. Complete with a fully trained dental staff and technological equipment, our team offers community members cosmetic treatments and other walk-in services like at any other full-service dental clinic. Beyond that, we also refer patients that we meet on Service Learning Trips to MED Vida and provide them with care at subsidized costs. There are over 70 treatments and services available, including extractions, fillings, cleanings, and more. 

According to Dr. Jorge Vidal, who both oversees MED Vida and is a full-time dentist at the clinic, the greatest need for these communities comes from a lack of access to professional dentists. MED Vida has three full-time staff members as well as three specialists who can provide treatments. 

In addition to medical care, MED Vida serves as an outlet for dental health education. The dental professionals provide brochures and consultations on the importance of dental hygiene and care to help patients understand, prevent, and treat oral health conditions. Vidal pointed out that community members are generally not accustomed to preventative care. If they are coming to the clinic, they already have a problem. Through our educational efforts we are trying to change that mindset, he said. 

Year-Round Patient Care

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With permanent community structures like MED Vida or the MED Center for Primary Education, our organization can provide year-round sustainable care to community members - even when we don’t have active volunteers on Service Learning Trips. MEDLIFE works hand in hand with communities 24/7/365 to fight for equal access to health, education, and a safe home.  

If you feel inspired to continue our dental health work, sign up for a Dental Clinic Specialty Service Learning Trip or donate to the MEDLIFE Project Fund today! 

June 26, 2019 1:31 pm

Building Silvio a Safe Home

Written by Anjali Thakrar

To empower the poor in the fight for a world free from the constraints of poverty, our MEDLIFE Movement works side by side with communities to provide a safe home for everyone!

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At a Tena Mobile Clinic, Ecuador Director Martha Chicaiza asked a local school teacher which of her students was in the most need - and she said Silvio. The teacher explained Silvio and his sister were abandoned by their mother and their father had passed away, so they now live with their grandmother who does not have a job to provide the children with medical care and a safe home.

Martha and the Ecuador MED Programs team immediately went to the house and found him at home, sick with stomach pain due to parasites and laying on the wooden floor with a blanket draped over him. The house didn’t have any walls - only draped plastic garbage bags to protect them from the elements - and there were no beds or pillows. Silvio’s father had started building the house for his family but passed away before he could finish. 

After visiting Silvio, Martha determined that MEDLIFE would complete the house along with Sumak Kawsay Wasi, a government organization in Tena, and dedicated a Service Learning Trip group to facilitate the project. 

Sumak Kawsay Wasi hired professional architects and builders to construct the walls, while MEDLIFE volunteers helped paint the house and assemble beds for the family. They built shelves for every room as well as an adjustable flap door to cover the top of the staircase to prevent accidental falls down the stairs at night. Our team also supplied antiparasite medication to each of the family members to fight against any current or future infections. 

After almost 12 hours of work, the space was improved from a dangerous and uncomfortable structure to a safe home where Silvio and his family can live, learn, and grow. 

Silvio House


Continue supporting MEDLIFE as we fight for equal access to healthcare, education, and a safe home for all in the communities surrounding Tena, Ecuador by donating to the MEDLIFE Project Fund or signing up for a Service Learning Trip! 

When you meet Ventura Yumbo, there is no doubt his family means the world to him.

Our team met him and his family when Ecuador Director Martha Chicaiza reached out to the dirgentes - community leaders - and asked who MEDLIFE could support on future Mobile Clinics. They shared Ventura’s story.

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Ventura is a widower who cares for his 14 children, ranging from 9 months to 25 years old. They were living in two small houses deep in the thrush of the jungle, with only two beds which were shared amongst them all. His wife only having passed away seven months ago from diabetes, Ventura was still adjusting to caring for his family on his own.

Whenever MEDLIFE offers development support to a community member, Martha first visits the project site to make a plan. After visiting the family, it was determined that we would build a third house. Martha contacted Sumak Kawsay Wasi, a government organization in Tena, and dedicated a Service Learning Trip group to facilitate the project.

Once the volunteers arrived, our team jumped into action. MEDLIFErs hauled wood and supplies to the houses. Sumak Kawsay Wasi hired trained builders to work side by side with the volunteers to properly execute the construction of the house as well as a staircase leading up to the home. The original hillside was steep and muddy, and after hours of digging stairs and collecting and placing rocks, the Yumbo family had a staircase that provided a safer way to navigate the hill.

The youngest child, a 9-month-old baby, also had a severe ear infection due to dirty, matted hair being stuck to a cut on her ear. Nurse Valeria Maldonado cleaned the baby's ear and removed all the matted hair, and came back with antibiotics. She instructed the family on how to use them so the baby could heal.

Beyond the quality healthcare, education, and development that was offered, the MEDLIFErs wanted to ensure none of the children had to sleep on the bare floor of their new house. Together, they came up with $600 on the spot from the money they had on their person. With these additional funds, Martha purchased 8 beds, pillows, rice, and tuna for the family. An additional three suitcases of clothing were given to the entire family.

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MEDLIFE has worked hand in hand with Ecuador communities for nearly 15 years. Offering thousands of patients and communities spread across Tena, Riobamba, and Esmereldas medical, education, and development support - our work would not be possible without the MEDLIFE Movement.

To continue growing the Movement, sign up for a Service Learning Trip today!

The MEDLIFE Ecuador staff is a small group of women, but they work day in and day out to provide quality healthcare, education, and development to the communities surrounding Riobamba and Tena.

Keep reading to learn more about MEDLIFE’s work in Ecuador!

Community Meetings

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As we do in every MEDLIFE location, when the team in Ecuador gets introduced to a new community they start by listening to the community’s needs. MEDLIFE Ecuador Director Martha connects with the dirigentes, or community leaders, to organize community meetings. These are usually held on weekday nights after work to accommodate the community members’ busy schedules.

In the district of Punin - which is comprised of many smaller communities - we were first invited to a town hall. Our team listened to concerns from community members, which they were sharing with their dirigentes. Most of the indigenous population in the district speaks Quichua. So when it was Martha’s turn to speak, we made sure there was a translator to ensure everyone understood what was happening.

As part of these meetings, we hope to inspire new communities to collaborate on future Mobile Clinics and projects. Martha speaks clearly and plainly to the dirigentes, describing how MEDLIFE collaboration works and what would be required of them. She tells our MEDLIFE story, where we work, and what projects we have completed. She assures the community that we are a non-governmental and non-religious organization that provides quality healthcare and development free of charge - there are no catches or ulterior motives.

Additionally, Martha explains that we work with groups of volunteers on Mobile Clinics as part of an Ecuador Service Learning Trip, which can be organized and arranged in a location and time convenient for community members, and development projects to improve the communities. Some of the populations are quite small, with only 60 or so individuals, so the team also encourages dirigentes to choose a central location and invite all neighboring communities.  

Local Partnerships

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When MEDLIFE works with communities surrounding Tena, Ecuador, we often partner with the local government organization Sumak Kawsay Wasi that provides medical and development support to the communities in Napo Province.

Recently our organizations worked side by side to renovate the bathrooms at a local school. Unidad Educativa Emilio Cecco serves nearly 300 students - and they had been sharing just six toilets. Administrators had been asking the government for resources to improve the school’s infrastructure for years. But their proposals were continually denied, and they were unable to gather funds from the students’ families as most do not have the expendable income to donate. That’s where we stepped in.  

Together MEDLIFE and Sumak Kawsay Wasi were able to raise the necessary funds and provide volunteers for the project. MEDLIFErs cleared the space where the bathrooms would be built, shoveling away debris and trash, and leveled the land. From there they worked 50/50 with community members to install the toilets and walls.

Additionally, the new bathrooms offered handicap access to the restrooms for students with disabilities. With classrooms located on the other side of the school grounds, it was difficult for some students to make the trip to the old facilities. The new bathrooms were built directly next to the classroom, with an accessible pathway, to provide easier access for all students.

The partnership between MEDLIFE’s Ecuador Team and Sumak Kawsay Wasi is a great example of our efforts at 24/7/365 support beyond an Ecuador Service Learning Trip. When we work with local organizations, we have the opportunity to reach more impoverished communities and people in our fight for a world free from the constraints of poverty.


Does working hand in hand with Ecuadorian Communities sound like an impactful experience for you?

Sign up for an Ecuador Service Learning Trip today!

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