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!

2014 - EBONY-baileyName: 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.

2014 - NICOLE-millwardName: 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! 

September 2, 2013 4:04 pm

Meet the Interns Year-long 2013-14

Written by Rosali Vela

Meet our new MEDLIFE year-long interns!

2014 - jennifer-clay2Name: Jennifer Clay
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
School: George Washington University
Major: Public Health
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I grew up in Syracuse, NY, where I spent a lot of time playing soccer, skiing, and hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. I then moved to Washington D.C. and went to the George Washington University, where I graduated this past May with a degree in Public Health. My major, along with a semester studying abroad in Chile, helped me realize that after graduation I wanted to work with an organization like Medlife.
My favorite part so far: During my first full week in Lima I worked on a mobile clinic. One afternoon after working on the staircase project, Medlife Peru Director Carlos Benavides took myself and some of the other student volunteers to a community a short walk away. There Carlos was meeting the community for the very first time, to learn about their needs and possibly start working with them. As we were led around the extremely steep slopes that lacked any well-constructed stairs at all, we learned how very difficult daily life was for them. Nevertheless after Carlos explained about Medlife and set a date for us to return and hold a first meeting with them, the women giving us the tour offered us cups of Coke to mark the occasion. As I walked away with a knitted red hat one women had given to me as a gift, I could not believe how lucky I was to be there and see how this process starts.

2014 - Frank-Dawedeit2Name: Frank Dawedeit
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
School: Johns Hopkins University
Major: Behavioral Biology
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was introduced to MEDLIFE at the chapter formation in Fall 2010. I was intrigued by MEDLIFE's threefold approach to helping Latin Americans improve their quality of life. Working with Carlos and Alberto in Peru and Martha in Ecuador was incredibly meaningful, and the dedication of all the local doctors and volunteers made me want to come back. The enormous efforts the communities themselves invested in projects as well as the joy of the kiddies convinced me MEDLIFE was an organization I should work with for an extended period.
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was startling. I had expected a little community in the hills, but instead encountered a thriving city with plenty of nightly raucous celebration and nightly soda consumption options. From the intimidating airport to the sprawling roads amidst first-rate architecture, I loved my Lima experience and I'm truly privileged to be back for a year. I hope to partner with MEDLIFE for many days ahead and learn as much from the people in the office and field as they doubtless glean from watching him stumble into doorways, walls, etc.
My favorite part so far: I'm a journalist at heart, but also a part-time actor and driver. I'm a Detroit Lions fan but officially hails from Jacksonville, FL. My favorite part of my internship so far is a close race between reuniting with Carlos and driving the Pacific Coast at night with Giancarlo on an empty highway, to the beats of Demi Lovato.

2014 - Hannah-Gillean2Name: Hannah Gillean
Hometown: Devon, Pennsylvania
School: Temple University
Major: Spanish Literature and Urban Studies
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Of the many values that I hold true, I strongly believe that travel is the best education.  Not only can travel expose you to a new language, food, culture or custom, travel opens the mind to a new way of interpreting the world we all share. In the words of Pico Iyer, in Why We Travel, "…Travel spins us round in two ways at once: It shows us the sights and values and issues that we might ordinarily ignore; but it also, and more deeply, shows us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty." For me, travel encourages my mind to manipulate the mundane into something spectacular. It allows me to break the boundary between perception and reality while I engage parts of my brain that I never even knew existed. I see travel as a vehicle to promote understanding, individuality and most of all a global perspective—all of which, I believe, are essential characteristics one must embrace in this ever-evolving world.
What was your first impression of Lima?: Before leaving, I had absolutely no idea of what it would be like to live in Lima, as I had never been to South American before. Now that I have been here for almost a month, I never want to leave. The city of Lima is chaotic, yet rhythmic, massive, and yet intimate. It's a mix of every emotion possible crammed into a traffic-jammed metropolis along the coast of the Pacific Ocean—there is so much to do and also so many things to discover. On a side note—I am SO looking forward to exploring the gastronomic capital of South America one bite at a time!

This latest batch of MEDLIFE summer interns comes to us from all over the world! Learn more about them in the second edition of Meet the Interns:


Name: Hailey Bossio
Hometown: Lonsdale, Ontario
School: McGill University
Major: Physiology, Minor Psychology

How I got involved with Medlife: I attended my first clinic in Lima in May 2011 and this experience completely changed my outlook on life. I returned from the clinic and wanted to get more involved so that other students could have the same experience. This past year I have held the position as the Canadian Expansion Chair and I worked with a team of students to expand MEDLIFE into Canada and the UK.

I'm looking forward to...seeing the results of MEDLIFE's cervical cancer prevention and detection program. The MEDLIFE follow up program provides women diagnosed with cervical cancer the medical and financial support they require to undergo cancer treatment. I would like to observe how a typical oncology center operates in Peru in comparison to the state of the art facilities we have in Canada.

My favorite part so far...I had the opportunity to attend a mobile clinic in Ecuador shortly after I arrived in South America and I really enjoyed working with the staff there to understand the root causes of very common diseases seen in the indigenous tribes of the Amazon.


Name: Swathi Varanasi
Hometown: Flemington, NJ
School: Carleton College
Major: Spanish and Neuroscience

How I got involved with MEDLIFE...When I was looking for summer opportunities online, I found the MEDLIFE internship, and after checking out the website, I applied and here I am!

I'm looking forward to...working with and making a difference in the communities in Lima.

My favorite part so far...getting the chance to work at a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in Cusco and then going to Machu Picchu afterwards!


Name: Benjamin Ostrander
Hometown: Kenwood, California
School: University of California, San Diego
Major: Bioengineering & Global Health

Fun fact: I play five instruments - piano, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, and didgeridoo!

I'm looking forward to...Getting to know MEDLIFE interns and staff, digging the Peruvian culture, traveling, and working with impoverished communities to improve their lives.

My favorite part so far...Visiting los pueblos jóvenes, especially working with one of the local communities to plan a staircase project and seeing their livelihoods: driving mototaxis, baking sweet bread in a handmade wood-fired oven, and selling knick-knacks, among other things.


Name: Lara Chambers
Hometown: Belfast, Northern Ireland
University: The University of St Andrews, Scotland
Major: French and Spanish

Fun fact: I worked at the London 2012 Olympics on the protocol and languages services team!

Why I'm here: I was looking for an opportunity to work in South America this summer and I came across MEDLIFE on the internet. I really liked the ethos of the organisation and this internship will provide me with an excellent chance to get to know South America whilst also giving something back to the community here in Lima.

I'm looking forward to...practising my Spanish, particularly mastering the Peruvian accent so that people will stop laughing at my European Spanish accent! I am also really looking forward to visiting the communities where we will be working this summer both in mobile clinics and fieldwork. I have a particular interest in the mobile schools project, having worked as a teacher in France this past year on a study abroad programme. I am also really excited to see Lima and some other parts of Peru as it is the first time I have ever been to South America!

My favorite part so far...I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone in the office (even if I can't remember everyone's name yet!). In particular I enjoyed my first visit to the field, as an introduction to the development project we will be doing, the people in the community were so warm and welcoming!


Name: Karolien Astrid Celie
Hometown: Gent, Belgium
School: University of York
Major: Social and Political Sciences

Fun fact: I'm a Belgian that was born in Bolivia, grew up in the US and now study in the UK.

Why I got involved with MEDLIFE...Nick Ellis and his wife came and gave a talk about MEDLIFE at my university a couple of months ago. I was really impressed with the organization and its goals so I wanted to get involved. I explored the MEDLIFE website and found the internship a great opportunity, I applied and that's how I got here!

I'm looking forward to...participating in a mobile clinic and testing out mobile schools, which I think is a great idea and hope will soon be running as often as mobile clinics. I'm really excited to help communities and interact with the members, as well as meeting passionate volunteers from all over the world!

My favorite part so far...It has been great meeting the lovely MEDLIFE staff and getting to know my fellow interns. I also really enjoyed one of our field days where we went on a patient follow-up visit on the outskirts of Lima.

eleanorName: Eleanor Dickens
Hometown: Overland Park, KS
School: Kansas State University
Major: Anthropology, Political Science, International Studies

Why I'm here: I had done a lot of research on MEDLIFE, and I loved everything that they stand for and for the work that they do. The way that MEDLIFE comes alongside works alongside the communities is beautiful. As I learned more, I decided that I would apply for the internship.

I'm looking forward to...learning more about the beautiful culture in Lima, to seeing the historical and archaeological sites in Perú, and to building relationships with the people here.

My favorite part so far...I loved going to our first project. It was a wonderful experience to meet the community members while working together.

It's summertime, and you know what that means: a fresh crop of MEDLIFE interns! Sunita, Galen, Cristina, Chanee and Ashlan join us in Lima, Peru, to help out with Mobile Clinics, projects, expansion and patient followup. Get to know our first group of summer interns: 


Name: Cristina Salvador
Hometown: The Americas. I was born in Miami, and moved every three years to countries including Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and the United States.
School: Pomona College
Major: Psychology and neuroscience

I'm looking forward to... Talking to the community members and learning from them to develop a more comprehensive world perspective. I am also looking forward to seeing how some volunteers may grow and find a different way of thinking thanks to what the communities and their experiences in Lima have taught them.

My favorite part so far... The inauguration of the staircase last Friday was by far my favorite part. It was where I felt the most genuine happiness I have ever felt by seeing the volunteers, community and MEDLIFE staff take the time to dance and appreciate each other.

Name: Sunita Kheterpal
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Yes, I'm Canadian)sunita2
McGill University
Major: Physiology with minors in management and international development studies

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I went on a Mobile Clinic to Riobamba, Ecuador on New Year's Eve of 2011.  I then went on to become the Vice President of Fundraising for MEDLIFE McGill; this upcoming year, I will be our Vice President of Operations.

I'm looking forward to... Meeting students from around the world. Learning to speak better Spanish is my goal. If I succeed, then I will be able to speak five languages.

My favorite part so far... How can I possibly pinpoint my favorite part so far? I've loved every moment of being here so far. I've had the opportunity to spend time with people who work for MEDLIFE, meet follow-up patients, be on the other side of the MEDLIFE experience (not as a volunteer, but as an intern), and live in Lima! 

galenName: Galen Burns-Fulkerson
Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC
School: UNC
Major: Nursing

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I heard about the club at my school and came across the application for the internship and thought it sounded like a really amazing opportunity.

I'm looking forward to... Testing out the Mobile School model and the Project Corps. model and just seeing how everything works.

My favorite part so far... I love meeting the patients and hearing their stories. I think medicine has the potential to be such an interactive profession but that people sometimes forget that those being treated are people in addition to patients. MEDLIFE allows many opportunities to be reminded of this through direct interactions with people who attend clinics.

Name: Chanée Massiah
cheneeHometown: Brooklyn, New York
School: Rutgers University
Major: Public health with minor in Spanish

My goals this summer... I really hope to establish a sound understanding of how poverty affects people in South America on a daily basis. In the few months that I am here, I hope that this internship gives me a little insight of what it will be like to pursue a career in global health.

My favorite part so far... Taking the tour of Pamplona has been my favorite part of my stay so far. Not only is physically attending to the needs of the community awesome, but it was a great educational insight to learn about the origin of the communities and experience the daily trek in the mountains.

ashlanName: Ashlan Bishop
Hometown: Boca Raton, FL
School: College of Charleston
Major: Public health with minor in neuroscience 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I helped start the MEDLIFE chapter at CofC this past semester and now serve on the executive board.

I'm looking forward to... Improving my Spanish language skills and helping the organization grow!

My favorite part so far... Interacting with all the patients and community members at the Mobile Clinic and project sites, especially with all of the kids.

April 24, 2013 10:39 am

MEDVIDA Ecuador Visits Lima, Peru

Written by Rachel Goldberg

medlifestaffMEDLIFE Ecuador and Peru staff after our meeting in Pamplona

Last week, three members of the MEDVIDA Ecuador team, Martha Chicaiza, Maria Chavez and Luis Cartagena, came to visit our office in Peru and get a taste of fieldwork in the shantytowns outside Lima. For Maria and Luis, it was their first visit to Lima and the first time they experienced in person the work that MEDLIFE does here. What did they think?

"Before my visit, I thought Lima would be nicer," said Luis. "But I was stunned when I saw the amount of poverty in Pamplona, and people who didn't have basic services, in comparison to the city of Lima. I can't stop thinking about the injustice of what I saw."

luisLuis Cartagena, MEDLIFE Ecuador Project Coordinator

Though the MEDLIFE office in Riobamba, a rural region of Ecuador, deals with the same issues of poverty and lack of health care, they manifest themselves in different ways. Luis said the most surprising difference for him was the imbalance in living conditions in different social classes in Lima. He says the rural poor that he sees in Ecuador generally have a better quality of life than those in the city. "And if poverty exists in Lima it is because of the land invasions, because where people come to take possession of the land, it's all rocks where nothing can grow, and so living from agriculture is impossible and they go to work in the city," he said. In Ecuador, emigration to large cities for job opportunities has also become a widespread trend, though the cities do not experience the kind of land invasions seen in Lima.

Because the fieldwork in each location of MEDLIFE is built on listening to the needs of the local community, a lot can be learned from sharing experiences and ideas between them. The Ecuador team agreed that the visit to Lima was an educational and memorable experience. "The visit inspired me to work even harder to improve conditions with MEDLIFE," said Luis. "I'll always remember the times I shared with MEDLIFE colleagues and the things I learned thanks to the tour."


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