Post republished from the MEDLIFE McGill blog

Today was our first day as a group working together. For some of us arriving into Ecuador at around 3:00 a.m. this morning, getting up to go on the bus seemed like a pretty strenuous task. However, our eyes were opened when we made our way to the rural town where we would participate in our first Mobile Clinic.

As we were split up in groups and set up our tents and specific areas, we couldn't help but notice the beautiful agricultural landscape we were in. As time went by, small children with their parents started to arrive. At first, it was a bit surprising to see their faces. Most of the children had scars from heat and wind exposure, and their parents suffered from poor oral hygiene. It became evident how serious of a health problem dental hygiene was in this area, and it was up to us to help the children learn proper techniques to maintain good oral health, which they can apply in the future.

At first, it was a bit difficult to communicate with the children and elders – who spoke Spanish – when most of the MEDLIFE students could not. However, it became easier when we used simple phrases and using hand gestures to communicate tasks, to the children especially.

I think every member of MEDLIFE learned a great deal from both the children and the elders of the community today, who sacrifice a great deal to support their families through farming while also taking the time to come into the clinic for medical care.

The group that was involved in the development project also reinforced how important it was for the area to create working washrooms in order to promote better hygiene. Everyone working together and putting their efforts today went a long way. When they thanked us before leaving, we could only say thank you back; little did they know, their smiles from receiving proper treatments and toothbrushes was probably the highlight of our day and the best thanks we could have received. We can only hope that they will cherish the information we gave them in the future, and continue to work on developing the washroom in their community. Now we are off to explore more of Riobamba as a group. Ciao for now!

December 11, 2012 11:40 am

Holiday Cheer in Unión Santa Fe

Written by Rachel Goldberg

This week's Mobile Clinic, made up of students from Florida International University, got off to an early start Sunday with a special holiday event in Unión Santa Fe. As you may know, Unión Santa Fe is an asentamiento humano (settlement) in Pamplona where MEDLIFE has been working for the past few years. MEDLIFE has aided Unión Santa Fe by bringing Mobile Clinics and completing staircase projects; we're also currently in the process of constructing a new day care center and water system. Over the course of many visits, we've gotten to know the kids of Unión Santa Fe and the surrounding communities. We wanted to do something to make their Christmas special, and what better time than with the arrival of 25 MEDLIFE student volunteers?

playing

Chocolatadas are a holiday tradition in Peru where families get together, often with hot chocolate and panetón (fruitcake), and the children receive gifts. For poor communities, these events take on a special significance, since they often provide one of the few or only occasions all year where children receive toys. This week, we teamed up with the local Rotary club, who held a toy drive, and distributed presents to about 300 children in the region.

The students arrived to the muddy soccer field in Unión Santa Fe on a morning covered in typical Lima fog. Despite the gloomy weather, the kids there were thrilled to see them and immediately started playing both American and Peruvian games together. The bus carrying all the presents broke down on the way, but luckily the students managed to distract the children while they waited.

Even with the unexpected setbacks, the chocolatada was a successful start as our student volunteers prepare to jump in to a week of nonstop Mobile Clinics. And the kids' smiles as they opened their presents were the ultimate reward.

presents

This holiday season, you can help us help communities like this one by donating to the MEDLIFE Fund!

groupwsign2Our first Mobile Clinic of the season marked another first for MEDLIFE -- a clinic made up entirely of high school student volunteers! Over Thanksgiving week, 50 students and six parents from Dana Hills High School in Orange County, California joined us to volunteer in Lima. They may be young, but these students worked with endless enthusiasm and energy throughout their Mobile Clinic experience.

They didn't let the language barrier stop them; when they took a break from working, you could always find the Dana Hills students playing with local kids. They especially had fun at the toothbrushing station, where they bonded with small children and came up with a song and dance to remind them of proper dental hygiene. The parents got involved too, some even using their own medical expertise to exchange ideas with the Peruvian doctors and help out at the clinic.

toothbrush

The Dana Hills students and parents also got their hands dirty building staircases in the Villa Maria de Triunfo district. Throughout the week, they worked on one stair project in Virgen de Cocharcas, and on Sunday they teamed up with community members from Laderas Nueva Esperanza to plant 80 trees at four different staircases.

trees

When they finished, it was time to celebrate! MEDLIFE volunteers were guests of honor at an inauguration ceremony marking the completion of the staircase projects, as well as electricity legally coming to the community for the first time. The mayor of the Villa Maria district, Silvia Barrera, stopped by to check out the Mobile Clinic and preside over the inauguration ceremony. This was a huge event for the community, which had previously gone unrecognized by the municipal government. They marked the occasion with a band, speeches, traditional dances and of course, breaking bottles of champagne. The parents got to do the honors, together with the mayor. After meeting at the inauguration, the mayor invited MEDLIFE staff to her office later that week, where she expressed her interest in working together on projects in the future.

kids-dancingalcaldesa

Looking back on their experience as the week came to a close, many of the students agreed that they were most impacted by the unexpected moments of connection that they experienced working with community members. Since they returned to the US, both students and parents have been planning ways to support future MEDLIFE community development projects.

Thanks to Dana Hills High for an exciting start to what's sure to be another great Mobile Clinic season!

For more photos, check out the Facebook album.

Our three Ecuador Summer Interns have recently arrived in country and are starting off their first week with a Mobile Clinic in Tena, Ecuador. Below, a photo update from one of our interns, Jennie Tian, reflecting her view of the first few days of our July 2012 Mobile Clinic in Tena:

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88-2-MEDLIFE-Tena

April 25, 2012 1:49 pm

New Video from Riobamba, March 2012

Written by Brenda Bravo

A big thanks to Cinaesthetic Films for sharing with us this beautifully-made video, shot during a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic trip to Riobamba, Ecuador in March 2012.

MedLife Ecuador Trip (March 2012) from Cinaesthetic Films on Vimeo.

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