As a medical student going on a MEDLIFE internship, I most looked forward to the chance to see the mobile medical clinics in action and help to provide medical care to families in need. We were encouraged to read about the issues surrounding aid provision and health inequalities, and in doing so we encountered quotes such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s:

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane.”

1

With these famous words still resounding, I arrived in the communities ready to help in whatever way I could. I was humbled to find that my help could only make a difference thanks to the communities themselves who came out in full force to help us build a staircase in the hills.

Despite having 20 students from the UK working together to pass cement, paint the walls, and clear debris – the community members outnumbered us. Some helped with the manual labor while others fetched drinks to reinvigorate us under the Peruvian sun. 

The trust that these people had in MEDLIFE was clear as they brought out their children to meet us, let us play with their dogs, and joined in and laughed as we sang a range of well-known songs from the UK to keep spirits up while we worked.

2

Vital to this is the role played by local community leaders who are employed by MEDLIFE. They understand the communities and help to foster trust. This really struck me after an educational meeting about women’s health, when a crowd of 30 or so people stayed late to speak to one of these local leaders and explain their different needs.

It is through these discussions that we begin to recognize the different problems that each community faces, and allows us to personalize the help we provide. It was through these discussions that the idea to build staircases first arose - a simple idea that would never have occurred to me living in the UK, but clearly made a huge difference to the lives of the people we met and helped to create a safer place to live. I am very grateful to have been a part of MEDLIFE’s work, and look forward to being involved again in the future, and continuing to put the community at the heart of it all. 

May 9, 2018 9:04 am

Meet the patient: Juan Padilla

Written by Melanie Neyra

In 2016, Juan Padilla's life took an unexpected turn. He was aggressively assaulted, leaving him completely blind.

 

The Story of Juan

Juan lives with his wife and daughter in his deceased parents' house in Pamplona Baja, San Juan de Miraflores, one of the most dangerous districts of Lima, Peru. Two years ago, he was a taxi driver and the only economic support of his family, until he got assaulted on his way home from work.

As he was walking home, five men got off a moto-taxi, took all of his belongings, and then began kicking him until he dropped onto the street. But this wasn't enough for them and before leaving, they threw a chemical in his eyes. This is a technique that robbers use to keep their victim from recognizing them in the police station.  

 

Meet the patient: Juan PadillaJuan Padilla, in his parent's house, where he lives with his 4 siblings and his family

 

He was left in the street, and his left eye began swelling and turning purple. When Juan's wife saw him, she took him to a local hospital, Maria Auxiliadora, but they couldn't help him without an appointment. After three long months, he was finally able to see a doctor. Unfortunately, after waiting so long, it was too late to start treatment for his left eye and he had permanently lost his vision. But the doctor told him with surgery, he could save the sight in his right eye.

After the surgery, Juan was showing signs of recovery and began to do some simple work. He helped his friend trim threads on the t-shirts he was making to support the Peruvian soccer team, so he could support his family and cover some of his medical costs. But this wasn't enough.  

How MEDLIFE Got Involved

One day, Zoila Dorado, a friend of Juan’s that knew MEDLIFE through its mobile clinics, told him how the organization helps provide quality health care for people who can’t otherwise access it. Juan didn't hesitate to reach out and contacted one of MEDLIFE's nurses, Ruth.

When Ruth heard his story, she knew she had to do something, so she enrolled Juan in MEDLIFE's follow-up patient program. First, MEDLIFE supported him by paying for his medicine and special glasses, but since he had stopped working, this wasn't a sustainable solution for his family or for MEDLIFE.

Luckily, thanks to volunteers that participated in a Service Learning Trip, we were able to give Juan a carrito sanguchero (sandwich cart), where his wife could begin to work selling things like burgers and orange juice. They couldn’t stop smiling when they were presented with the cart, knowing that they would be able to make an income again.

 

Juan's family inaugurating their new carrito sangucheroJuan's family inaugurating their new carrito sanguchero

 

But the story doesn’t end there. A few months passed, when Juan was assaulted once again. His attackers hit him so hard with a baseball bat this time that his glasses broke. Even in this incredible pain, Juan stood up and went home. On his way into his kitchen, it all turned black. Juan was completely blind.

At first he was depressed, but thanks to his family, MEDLIFE volunteers, staff, and donors, he has been given hope.

 

IMG 4830MEDLIFE staff giving him a walking stick and a special watch

 

Juan’s Hopes for the Future

Now, Juan is enrolled in a program in CERCIL (Lima’s rehabilitation center for the blind), where they teach him how to live and develop professionally. It also connects him to fellow blind people, which makes him feel he isn’t alone and gives him the opportunity to swap stories and advice.

Juan told us there was a man from Ica, “and he came to CERCIL asking for help. He likes sports, especially running, and now is about to participate in the Pan American games. This made me ask myself - if this man can do it, why can't I?”

 

By attending a Service Learning Trip, you help us support MEDLIFE follow-up patients like Juan Padilla, and give them hope for a better future.

 

When patients are simply referred to local hospitals for treatments many times they still fail to receive the actual treatment they need due to lack of resources, lack of confidence, or lack of a true understanding of their medical problems. For all of these reasons, MEDLIFE has developed a year-round patient follow-up process. We support our patients in many ways. We provide financial resources for treatments, emotional support, nutritional assistance for malnourished families, and educational resources to help individuals better understand their conditions.  

Meet some of our follow-up patients in Tanzania!

CAROLINE MOSHA

CAROLINE

Let me introduce you to Caroline Mosha! Caroline is a six year-old girl, living in the community of Kilema-Moshi. She became a MEDLIFE follow-up patient in May of 2017.

Caroline is a charming young girl who was diagnosed with chronic tonsillitis at a mobile clinic and subsequently enrolled into our patient follow-up program.

We made our first visit to Caroline’s home on August 11th, 2017 with Dr. Geofrey, a mobile clinic physician. This was the first time we were able to discuss Caroline’s treatment plan with her and her siblings. 

During the visit, Dr. Geofrey recommended that Caroline undergo a tonsillectomy to cure her tonsillitis. After everyone agreed to her treatment plan, we then made an appointment at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre’s ENT Department.  Caroline went in for a medical consultation on August 18th, 2017 and the doctor recommended the surgery be performed as quickly as possible, as Caroline’s tonsils were quite enlarged and caused her discomfort, especially at night.

The doctor scheduled Caroline to be admitted into the hospital on August 21st, 2017. However, when we arrived to the hospital we were told that there were no available beds because the hospital’s capacity had been reached. The hospital staff could only recommend that we return the following day and try again. On August 22nd, 2017 a bed finally became available and Caroline was admitted to KCMC. Caroline was operated on a day later and had a successful surgery with no complications. Her surgery went so well that the doctors discharged her the following day! We are very thankful that Caroline had a successful surgery and no longer suffers from tonsillitis.

THERESA MZAVA

theresa

This young girl is named Theresa Mzava. She is eleven years old and lives with her parents and four siblings. One day, she was helping her parents prepare food for the family when a part of her headscarf caught fire. She tried to remove the cloth herself but was unable to.

Fortunately, her father heard her screams and came running to help her. Theresa’s father removed the burning piece of cloth but she had already been burned on her head, back, and buttocks.

Theresa’s family took her to the hospital where she was given medication and treated for her injuries. However, as the days went on, Theresa’s family could not afford to pay the medical bills associated with her treatment, and she was discharged from the hospital.

Shortly after being discharged, we met Theresa at a 2016 mobile clinic in her community, Kilima mswaki. After we spoke to Theresa’s mother, we agreed to assist her with the cost of Theresa's medications until she made a full recovery.

However, shortly after Theresa became a MEDLIFE follow-up patient her family experienced another tragedy: her family’s house collapsed due to heavy winds and rains. While this could have put Theresa at a higher risk of infection while she recuperated, a neighbor kindly offered to take Theresa in while her family rebuilt their house. In the summer of 2017, Theresa made a full recovery.

WILSTANELY MAKERE

WILSTANELY

Meet Wilstanely Makere! He is 53 years old, and lives with his wife in the village of Kitifu. He is also the father of two children. Wilstanely suffered from a hernia for over three years, but was unable to go to the hospital for medical treatment.

In January of 2016, MEDLIFE conducted a mobile medical clinic in his community, where he was immediately enrolled in our patient follow-up program.

We worked with him to help him get the hernia operation he needed and now he has fully recovered!

 

April 30, 2018 3:40 pm

MEDLIFE UK Intern: Arka Banerjee

Written by Arka Banerjee

The MEDLIFE Internship in Lima, Peru was a fulfilling and highly enjoyable experience. I appreciated the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals and a movement that is passionate about making a positive difference and improving the living standards of the disadvantaged in the world.
As a medical student, I have a keen interest in working to ensure access to good healthcare for all globally. Working with local doctors, dentists and nurses in the mobile clinics gave me the opportunity to work towards this goal.

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Along with the mobile clinics, being involved in a variety of projects ranging from building infrastructure to education highlighted MEDLIFE’s holistic approach to development and helping the disadvantaged escape poverty. I was excited to be involved in the various development projects, and enjoyed meeting and working with new friends, both from the UK and Peru. The internship also provided the opportunity to learn more about the struggles and individual stories of the disadvantaged in Lima. Through the sharing’s, I gained insights into the nature of the problems that those in poverty face, as well as how we can work together with the disadvantaged to alleviate these problems.

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I learned that poverty and its associated challenges, although often having many common elements, is a heterogeneous phenomenon with every person having a different story and set of needs. One-size-fits-all policies and programmes, especially those carried out without consulting the disadvantaged, may be less effective. Personally speaking, I believe the internship has changed my thoughts and perceptions of poverty and development for the better. I feel I have a more holistic understanding and perspective on what can be done to increase standards of living worldwide, and I am looking forward to implementing these in future projects with MEDLIFE and in my University in future. All in all, I would say it was an eye-opening and highly enriching experience and I am incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to be involved in it.

- Arka Banerjee, 1 st Year Medic, University of Cambridge

On Thursday, April 5th 2018, the MEDLIFE Cusco team and a group volunteers representing four United States universities conducted a mobile medical clinic in the community of Ccasacancha, about an hour and a half outside of the city of Cusco, in the district of Ancahuasi. Although this clinic was the first conducted in Ancahuasi in 2018, MEDLIFE has been actively working within the surrounding communities for an over a year. What’s more, multiple patients in MEDLIFE’s atient follow-up program live within or nearby Ccasacancha. Towards the end of the day, as the clinic was winding down, Carmen, one of our MEDprograms nurses, asked me and a volunteer to accompany her in making a visit to one such patient and his family: Juan José.

    Juan José is a thirteen year-old boy who lives in Ccasacancha with his parents and five siblings. Although Juan José was born a healthy boy, he sustained serious burns on his face, neck, and chest from an accident when he was four years old. When MEDLIFE first met Juan José and his family at a mobile medical clinic in 2017, the scar that had formed left him partially disfigured and had contracted to the extent that it prohibited him from being able to fully turn his head. The MEDLIFE doctor recommended that Juan José undergo a Z-plasty scar revision surgery, in which the surgeon would re-open the scar sufficiently for Juan José to regain mobility in his neck. However, it was not until Carmen made a visit to Juan José’s home that MEDLIFE discovered the true extent of the challenges he was facing.

    Initially, Juan José’s father refused to let Carmen enter his family’s house or enroll his son into MEDLIFE’s patient follow-up program. However, Carmen persisted and continued to make periodic visits to Juan José’s house, offering to help him and his family.

    After the fourth visit, Carmen was invited inside. Upon entering the house, she discovered that the family was living in destitute conditions and that nearly all of the family members suffered from chronic malnutrition. A big reason for this, Carmen found, was that Juan José’s father was an alcoholic and unemployed. This meant that the only income the family could rely on came from Juan José’s mother, who worked as a farmhand in an artichoke farm in the district of Zurite. The family’s financial situation had been made even more difficult when Juan José’s seventeen year-old sister, Ana Beatriz, found that she was pregnant. It was then that Carmen knew that MEDLIFE needed to do more than just ensure that Juan José received the surgery he needed. If Juan José was going to have a successful recuperation after his surgery, and his sister give birth to a healthy baby, the entire family’s living situation would need to be drastically improved.

     After meeting Juan José and gaining his parents’ trust, MEDLIFE’s Cusco nurses, Carmen and Lis, made visits to the family, checking up on how they were doing, providing the family with basic medications, and ensuring Ana Beatriz received the prenatal care she needed. However, on the day of our mobile clinic, Carmen and Lis wanted to do more than make another routine visit, they wanted to give the volunteers and myself a firsthand look at the difficulties Juan José and his family were truly facing, and ask for help.

    As Cynthia, a volunteer from Vermont Tech, and I followed Carmen down a dirt road leading away from our mobile clinic location, it was not long before Juan José’s house came into site. Juan José’s family lives in a house typical of the region: two small buildings, a kitchen and a storeroom/bedroom, made out of adobe bricks. Both buildings face each other and are and surrounded by a corrugated metal fence. When we arrived, Ana Beatriz opened the door and ushered us inside. She told us that both parents were currently out of the house but she and Juan José were both home. As I entered the house, I could see Juan José standing in the yard behind his sister, timid at first, but beginning to smile as he saw Carmen.

     As Carmen greeted the two children in the house, she urged Cynthia and I to examine the conditions in which Juan José and his family lived. When we first entered the kitchen, Cynthia and I were blinded by the darkness inside. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness we could make out pots and pans placed on both the dirt floor, as well as atop a small, adobe stove, completely devoid of any stovepipe or ventilation. We turned our heads upward and found the entire kitchen ceiling caked with black tar from years of smoke filling the kitchen during mealtimes.

    After seeing the kitchen, we walked across the yard to the family’s storeroom/bedroom. We climbed the wooden steps to the second floor where the entire family slept in one room. Inside we saw two large beds piled high with blankets and surrounded by clothes scattered on the floor. The walls and ceiling had been covered in a white plastic tarp to prevent water from leaking into the bedroom. While inside, Carmen pointed out to us that the beds that the family slept on were not mattresses, but large pieces of yellow foam set on top of wood pallets. Upon leaving the bedroom we began to truly comprehend scope of the challenges that Juan José and his family were facing at home.

      Congregating back in the yard, Carmen indicated that Juan José and his family would greatly benefit from having their house renovated with shelves, paved floors, waterproof roofing and a new ventilated and fuel efficient stove. These improvements would not only ensure that Juan José has a safe and clean environment in which to recuperate, but that the rest of his family would enjoy a higher quality of life at home as well. Carmen and Cynthia shared a tearful moment together as they discussed what could be done for Juan José’s family.

     Since that day at Juan José’s house, the new MEDLIFE chapter at Vermont Tech has been raising money to help Juan José’s family, and Carmen and Lis have continued to support the family through routine visits. Both nurses have continued to accompany Ana Beatriz to her prenatal doctor appointments and have been thinking of ways to further improve Juan José’s family’s situation. The two have even been talking to the family about the possibility of installing a family greenhouse, in addition to their much needed home renovations, in order to provide a means to grow healthy fruits and vegetables, and thus combat malnutrition. Back in the United States, Cynthia and the rest of the Vermont Tech chapter have already raised over $500 and hope to raise more in the near future to go towards extra costs associated with Juan José’s surgery and his house renovation. Through the continued collaboration between MEDLIFE staff and the MEDLIFE chapter at Vermont Tech, the goal of getting Juan José the surgery he needs and supporting his family with a safe home is already on its way to becoming a reality.

April 23, 2018 9:20 am

A profile of our Lima Communities

Written by Sarah Margolis

This information is based on a sampling of communities around Lima, Peru that hosted MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics between December - January 2017-2018.

Gender Breakdown

Since MEDLIFE clinics take place during the day, it's often difficult for men to attend as they most often are at work.

age

During summer vacation, more children attend MEDLIFE clinics.

Education

While most children attend school through at least year one of secondary school, many people who come to Lima from rural Peru may have received very limited education or no education at all.

Occupation

In Lima, many mothers do not hold formal jobs. Instead, they may cook in community kitchens (Comedores populares), sell goods on the street, or have other informal sources of income.

2018 04 20

In Peru, there are two main types of public insurance: Essalud and SIS. Essalud is insurance aimed at the middle class and is granted through work contracts, SIS is for those who do not receive benefits from their employer or who do not have government regulated jobs. While SIS is meant to provide insurance to the poorest class, there are still obstacles preventing everyone from registering for this basic service.

We are proud to present a new MEDLIFE project in Kilimanjaro! Thanks to the hard work of our MEDLIFE team we were able to make much-needed improvements to Kilema Primary School, a school that will benefit more than 200 students and teachers in the community of Kilema. 

Kilema, located in Marangu (Moshi), is a community of just over 20,000 inhabitants. During a mobile clinic nearby, the director of the local school petitioned for MEDLIFE's support in order to construct new school bathrooms, as well as renovate the exterior of the classrooms, which had been flooded during heavy seasonal rains. The flooding not only interrupted classes but also damaged the rooms and put the health of the children at risk. The toilets being used at the school presented another health risk, as they were dirty and lacked a proper drainage system. Many children had even had stomach complications and were still afraid to use the bathroom during school hours.

unnamedOriginally, the bathrooms did not have toilets, running water, and some of the stalls lacked doors

For this project, MEDLIFE renovated the toilets, repaired the administrative offices, acquired a water tank for the bathrooms, painted the classrooms and constructed a water drainage system so that rainwater would not flood the school in the future. Students, teachers, and parents all participated in the renovations. After everything was completed, the community was very happy with all the improvements that were made!

unnamed 8The new bathrooms have proper doors, new toilets, and water tank to supply them with water. Also, new bathrooms for the teachers were built, so kids have their own bathrooms.

unnamed 2Classrooms were painted and a drainage system was built to avoid future flooding.

unnamed 3A thank-you letter was sent to our Tanzania team from the Kilema Primary School!

 

 

April 2, 2018 9:34 am

MEET THE PATIENT: EMMANUAL (MOSHI, TANZANIA)

Written by Neema

image10Emmanual, age 60, was at a loss for words as he learned he was being entered into the MEDLFE Follow-up program.

Meet Emmanual, MEDLIFE Tanzania's newest Follow-up patient. We met Emmanual for this first time this past weekend after a community leader had contacted MEDLIFE Tanzania Director Neema Lyimo asking for help. What Emmanual initially thought was just a painful toothache soon became a mass on his right cheek. In rural environments, many patients rely on community assistance for treatment when healthcare systems are not accessible either due to distance, cost or lack of education on how to utilize them. Our Tanzania staff will now begin to work with Emmanual and his family to get further evaluations and determine what course of action is needed.

image4The seasonal rains had limited road access to Emmanual's community, leaving the team to set out on foot.

While the majority of MEDLIFE patients are found through a mobile clinic, occasionally local leaders will approach us and share the case of a friend or community member who needs help. Our partner communities and patients don't just require medical care when MEDLIFE is able to bring a mobile clinic, caring for patients requires our 24/7, year-round attention. This is why the MEDLIFE values of listening and fostering strong relationships with communities is so crucial. Realistically, MEDLIFE mobile clinics cannot reach everyone in need of care. But by working within existing local networks we an extensive team able to take action. 

Secsencalla, a community located within the district of Andahualiyas in the province of Quispicanchis, is located one hour outside the city of Cusco. It is a rural community of approximately 100 families, most of whom dedicate themselves to cultivating and harvesting maize. Each family in Secsencalla has a different background, but the story of Victoria's family has been one of the most impactful. 

"There is a family living in extreme poverty," said Dula, the health coordinator in Secsencalla who helps us select the families that will benefit from our Healthy Homes program. "They do not have anyone else, and they really need you." Without hesitation, we went to visit the aforementioned house.

 1The space they used as a kitchen.

When we visited Victoria's house we were surprised by the conditions in which she lived. The walls of the improvised kitchen were almost completely black with soot, making it difficult to see inside. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark, we could see how the smoke that emanated from the unventilated wood burning stove made Eberth, Victoria's oldest son, cough while he was cooking. Next to the stove, a half dozen guinea pigs were kept in a feces-filled pen, shrieking desperately at the lack of air.

3The room shared by Victoria and her children.

The main bedroom was located in another building, where Victoria and her three children shared a single sleeping space. A soaking wet plastic tarp hung loosely from the ceiling, placed there by Victoria in a futile attempt to keep Cusco's seasonal rains from seeping into the house. The damp adobe walls seemed ready to give way at any moment and the roof, already leaking profusely, appeared to be on the verge of collapse. It was evident that we had to do something.

Victoria has been a widow for the past two years. During this time she has cared for her daughter and the two older children of her deceased husband, whom she cares for as her own. To provide for her family she works a variety of odd jobs, from laboring in the fields to washing clothes and loading construction material. Victoria is a woman of surprising strength who, despite being placed in a difficult situation replete with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, works to overcome them in order to give her children a decent life. 

4The space that was used as a warehouse and that we rebuilt to be a new, more adequate and healthy kitchen.

The damp adobe walls seemed ready to give way at any moment and the roof, already leaking profusely, appeared to be on the verge of collapse. It was evident that we had to do something. Normally, the Healthy Homes program involves the construction of a new fuel-efficient stove, the improvement and relocation of bedrooms, and the construction of shelves that help with home organization (you can read more about the Healthy Homes program in this blog.) In the case of Victoria, we also rebuilt the roof in its entirety, as well as relocated the kitchen to a new, properly ventilated space. Thanks to the work of our volunteers from UPR - Rio Piedras, UPR - Cayey, and the University of Florida, we also managed to paint Victoria's new kitchen and bedroom in order to give her newly renovated home an orderly and safe look. 

Look at the photos of our volunteers working below:

5Victoria's new kitchen! It has a window that allows better ventilation and the improved stove does not let smoke escape into the kitchen, so her children will not have health problems.

6This room was completely renovated. The roof was entirely rebuilt utilizing traditional building techniques to protect against frequent seasonal rains.

7We also built shelves to help with kitchen organization. These shelves are very efficient and inexpensive to build.The idea is that families like Victoria's can build them themselves. Each box has the value of S/.1 (around $ 0.30 cents) and they look great!

8Our volunteers all took a final photo with Victoria and her younger daughter, Flor, who helped us throughout the workday and even shared a bit of corn from their harvest! Thank you, Victoria, for welcoming us into your home!

February 13, 2018 2:44 pm

The First of Many

Written by Chris Cutrali

I can hardly remember my walk out of the airport in Lima, Peru just after our landing.  I needed to find someone in a Medlife shirt, and follow them.  Simple.  The last thing I'd expect was continuing to follow Medlife after I'd gotten home.  On behalf of my great experience with the organization, I'm proud to share how it changed my life.

My first impression of Lima was given to me through a bus window at 2am.  I watched the streets transform between the airport and the heart of Miraflores, the coast of Peru's capital.  After bunking with four others, sleeping through a rooster's wake-up call, and showering in my socks, I made it to breakfast the next morning with three hours of sleep under my belt.  The food was plain, and the awkwardness was obvious.  However, before long we were playing cards with one another, and later traveling amongst friends to tour the city.

IMG 9578Chris on location in Lima

The next day I went with my group leaders through a Reality Tour, a pivotal moment in understanding our purpose in Lima.  We packed into the buses outside our hostel early in the morning, eager to see what awaited us.  What came next surprised us all.  The terrain completely changed as we drove up the mountains on Lima's outskirts.  The air became thinner, the sun grew hotter, and the ground was dryer.  It felt as though we were breathing dust as we kicked through rocks and trash to scale the mountain.  

My leader Rafa and I were stopped by a middle aged woman in one of the communities we passed through.  She asked for our help- something so simple - to lift a bucket of water.  It was clear that the object was too heavy for her, so we didn't hesitate to grab the handles.  Walking through the hole that posed as her front door made the gravity of the situation crash down on my shoulders.  The house was all but one room, barely fitting a burner, a sink, a table, cabinets, and an inch of dust on the floor.  It felt good to help someone, no matter how long my assistance was needed.  Yet, for some reason I wasn't satisfied.  I realized what made this place different was that my help wasn't just appreciated, but it was remembered.  The kind woman turned on the burner to begin boiling the water, cleansing it from whatever germs temperature could kill.  After what felt like an hour, I left the small home with Rafa, and joined my group which had gathered on the edge of the hill.

Sarah debriefed us on the week's mission - our responsibility here - and answered the limitless questions we had about their lifestyle.  She explained the self-built houses, the lack of purified water and garbage disposal, among many other difficulties.  What stood out to me most was a lottery process used for giving the poor  medical attention.  Only the first patients to arrive to the clinic and line up are given the help they needed, and for the rest - they had come back the next day or make do without medical services.  Those who did get attention still had to find a way to support themselves with extremely limited resources.  However, no matter what trials the communities faced, they continued to work toward a better standard of living.  Even though I arrived without many expectations, I never would've imagined that these people, who have so little, could be so cheerful and welcoming.  We weren't volunteering our time to make a change for them, but rather to make a change with them.  What we accomplished down there wouldn't have been possible without the communities' willingness and perseverance to help themselves.  

I started participating in the mobile clinics Tuesday, and stopped Friday with the exception of one "project day," in which we built a staircase.  However, the work will never truly be finished.  Throughout the week I stood alongside Doctors, Dentists, amongst other health professionals and was introduced to their role in Medlife.  The stations that required volunteers were as followed: Triage, Toothbrushing, OB, Dental, Doctor, Education, and Pharmacy.  My job changed throughout the week but I was able to experience Triage, Toothbrushing, Dental, Education, and Doctor.  Every role offered at the health clinics is vital to the process.  Our goal being; to help all members of the community as efficiently as possible.  The day ended once everyone in line had gotten the attention they needed.

IMG 9368 2Doctor Station, Mobile Clinic

Working triage consisted of recording blood pressure, height, weight, and temperature.  When at toothbrushing, we taught children how to brush their teeth and we applied fluoride for them afterwards.  The Dental station called for managing the equipment for the Dentist and giving the patient water when needed.  For education, we handed out information pamphlets about specific concepts in health and medicine.  When working with the Doctor, we helped him communicate with patients and examined them so that we can appropriately prescribe their medication. Working in the clinics opened my eyes.  So many people were dealing with inevitable health problems, most of which they had no control over (such as problems caused by environmental factors).

At the end of my last day on clinic, I remember overlooking Peru's capital, wondering how many others will settle in the communities on the mountains.  Or how many more people will face similar difficulties.  As Medlife grows, we are given the chance to offer our services in different areas.  But without the willingness of communities, we'd hardly be scratching the surface.  My experience in Peru gave me the confidence that I can truly make a difference.  I have no plan to stop my involvement with Medlife, and excitedly await my return to Lima. 

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