May 18, 2017 3:32 pm

Renovating a school in Ecuador

Written by Sam Roberson

Last week, MEDLIFE staff and volunteers worked with the Atahualpa neighborhood in Tena, Ecuador to paint and restore the local day care school in the area. Volunteers worked for 4 days sanding, repainting and In addition to the volunteers, many parents of children in the nursery came out to work in afternoons and weekends.

At work 2A volunteer sands a wall to be painted in the day care school.

The day care is run by the Instituto Sumak Kawsay Wasi, a government social program whose mission is to attend to the province’s most vulnerable and low-income sectors. MEDLIFE has worked with Sumak Kawsay Wasi to facilitate relationships with local communities around Tena.

The day care school is a valuable resource for the community where many mothers have children at a young age. Ecuador has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Latin America with an estimated 21% of women giving birth to a child before the age of 18 (UNFPA 2013).

Before Outside 3Outside of the school before working on the clean up effort.

Talking with women around the area, the lack of access to proper healthcare and low wages are apparent. Mothers will skip meals to feed their children. The government provides subsidized food to children in schools however the quality and nutritional value of these has dropped in the last two years.

Yadira Tacoamán grew up close to Tena and works with Sumak Kawsay Wasi. She says the school is important not just as a relief for parents in the area, but also in helping the children acheive a better future.

After Inside 2The inside of the school after cleaning, sanding and a fresh coat of paint.

2017 05 18Thank you to the volunteers who helped make this project possible.

“This is very important work being done to benefit the most vulnerable people such as the Kichwa people,” Tacoamán said. “There’s an organization to provide the necessary help to the most vulnerable people of Napo.”

MEDLIFE will continue to work in the Atahualpa neighborhood with mobile clinics and the day care school to benefit the people there.

After Outside 1A girl enjoys the yard of the school after volunteers and parents finished the renovation project.

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     MEDLIFE is proud to announce that the plans to construct a second floor to the Union De Santa Fe Wawa Wasi were finalized in April 2017 as community members and MEDLIFE CEO Nick Ellis signed agreements. 

     The first floor to the Wawa wasi was completed in 2015 , and serves as a space for the governments "Cuna Más" program. The government will provide trained childcare personel and nutritional meals for kids if the community provides the space and other materials. MEDLIFE provided those things and the Cuna Más program runs the daycare.

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However, Cuna Más is only available to kids age 6 months to 3 years old, and children cannot enter primary school until age 6. So kids who are between ages 3 and 6 cannot enjoy the facilities above. For this reason, MEDLIFE is providing the materials for a second floor to the wawawasi that can be used for a similar program "Pronoei", a preschool for children ages 3-6. The community will organize the construction.

The addition of a local "Pronoei" seeks to close the 3 year gap between when children age out of "Cuna Más" program and start primary school. This frees up time for parents that can be used to work a job during the day. With the second floor, kids with working parents will have a safe, constructive environment with nutritous food all the way up until primary school.     

IMG 8384A child who will be served by the new floor outside the night meeting that finalized the agreement.

 IMG 8392Carlos Benavides explains the agreement to the community.

 IMG 8401Nick Ellis signs the agreement.

 IMG 8410Community members sign on, commiting to help us work on the project. At MEDLIFE community investment is a priority.

 

 

 

 

 

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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MEDLIFE is excited to announce a new project in Kirua, Tanzania. We did our first clinics there in August of 2015, and the community organized itself to work with us more. At a community meeting they asked us for help with the schools infrastructure. 

Kirua is a rural agricultural community in the region of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Maize, bananas, mangos, and avocadoes make up the staple crops of the area, which the locals grow for food and sell of the extra in local markets. General infrastructure is undeveloped in rural Tanzania.

 There are no paved roads that serve the village of Kirua, villagers must hike many kilometers to arrive at a road that is served by public transit with access to a major town. 

Only 7.5% of people in rural communities have sanitary bathrooms. This means that a lot of waste drains into the river and contaminates the community's only water supply. A whole host of health problems like diarrhea and parasites, which were treated frequently in the clinics MEDLIFE held there, are caused by the contaminated river water. 

The great importance of improving sanitation was summed up on a United Nations page about a global initiative to end open defecation: "Cross-country studies show that the method of disposing of excreta is one of the strongest determinants of child survival: the transition from unimproved to improved sanitation reduces overall child mortality by about a third. Improved sanitation also brings advantages for public health, livelihoods and dignity-advantages that extend beyond households to entire communities."

The quality of public education in general in Tanzania is very poor. According to a world bank report, about 25% of the population between the ages of 15 and 24 remains illiterate. Many schools are extremely overcrowded, with an average of 74.1 children per classroom and 50 students per teacher.  One reason for this is that the infrastructure of the schools themselves is seriously lacking. Just 3% of schools have the basic services like electricity, water, and sanitary bathrooms. In the report, improvements in all of these measures were correlated with improved test scores. While only correlational, it does not take a great leap of the imagination to see how a school with basic services would create a better learning environment. 


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When a meeting was held with the community, they told us how they needed help with the school. The school serves 120 children. It is a simple school house, nothing but a room to teach in, no bathrooms, water, or electricity. They don't have enough desks, so many of the children must work on the ground. The children's meals are cooked over an open wood fire outside. Each kid has to collect some wood for the fire on their way to school. 

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They cook Ugali over the open fire and 3 large stones. Ugali is a staple dish made of corn flour that has the consistency of dough, along with beans. The Ugali is typically rolled into a ball and used to pick up the other food being eaten, like an edible utensil. The problem with the open kitchen and eating area is that it the wind blows dust and dirt into the children's food, causing diarrhea. 

They told us that what they needed most was a kitchen and bathrooms for the school.

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After listening to the communities concerns, MEDLIFE decided to do three projects at the Kirua primary school: a dining hall, a kitchen, and a bathroom project. MEDLIFE is also donating 29 desks and chairs so the children do not have to work on the ground. The kids will live a healthier lifestyle and have a better learning environment. MEDLIFE is proud to be able to help develop the community of Kirua, but we cannot do it alone. Please help by donating here.

February 9, 2016 9:42 am

Former Intern Donates Toys to WaWawasi

Written by Jake Kincaid

Former media intern Daniela Martes, along with mobile clinic volunteers from Cusco and Lima, donated toys to the Wawawasi in Union Santa Fe. We delivered them to the Wawawasi in early Febuary 2016. The donations were received with smiles when we delivered them and are sure to keep the generations of children who will pass through the Wawawasi happily playing. 

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The Union Santa Fe Wawawasi

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The children receiving their toys.

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"Welcome to the cradle of brilliant futures."

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