"The sky is the limit if you have a roof over your head."- Sol Hurok
 
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There are many moving parts that go into the creation of a safe building, but in Peruvian construction, the roof is considered the most important. A completed roof symbolizes a completed project. The walls may need spackling and a fresh coat of paint, and the floor may need cleaning, but these are just aesthetic changes. No matter what, with a finished roof, a project is ready to be used. 
 
2Carlos Benavides, director of MED Programs Peru, stands with the materials required to fill in the roof.
 
On Sunday, June 25, 2017, just two months after the plans were finalized and the community agreement was signed, MEDLIFE Staff headed out to Union de Santa Fe to see the completed roof on the second floor of the wawa wasi.  Union de Santa Fe community members, along with a few of the MEDLIFE interns, hauled countless buckets of rocks and sand to the cement mixer until the roof was finished and ready to be inaugurated. 
 
3With the addition of a cement mixer, a machine not readily available on project days, we were able to finish the roof in just one day!
 
5MEDLIFE Summer interns, Brandy and Jana, pass a bucket of rocks down the cement assembly line.
 
4Project days might be tough work, but they are definitely fun, too!
 
The first floor to the Wawa Wasi was completed in 2015 , and serves as a space for the Cuna Más program. Cuna Mas is a government program which provides trained childcare personnel and nutritional meals for kids. However, it is only available to kids between 6 months and 3 years old. In Peru, children don't start primary school until age 6, so kids who are between ages 3 and 6 can't enjoy the facilities. The new second floor of the Wawa Wasi will be used for a program called PRONOEI, a preschool for children ages 3-6. This addition aims to close the 3 year gap between when children age out of Cuna Más and start primary school, as well as provide a safe childcare facility for the children of working parents.  

 6Members of Union de Santa Fe spread the concrete mixture on the Wawa Wasi's roof.

7Ricardo Ccasani, Union de Santa Fe community leader and MEDLIFE staff member, fixes a leak in the pipe carrying cement to the roof. 

8Thanks to the immense support of the Union de Santa Fe community, the Wawa Wasi roof was completed in just four hours!

9The summer interns take a break from all the hard work to pose for a quick picture!

10MEDLIFE Staff members, Martha, Rosali, Raúl, Edinson, Angie, and Dr. Nick Ellis, pose in front of the Wawa Wasi after the inauguration.

On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, members of the MEDLIFE staff visited the community of Villa Rica to deliver an educational workshop preceding the weekend's upcoming clinic. Villa Rica is a community located in the Lomo Corvina zone of the Villa El Salvador district. Tuesday's educational session was focused on women's health, covering topics ranging from breast and cervical cancer to sexual health. MEDLIFE staff discussed the risks and warning signs of breast cancer and the importance of performing regular self breast exams. Community members also recieved a hands-on workshop demonstrating how to perform a self exam. The topic then shifted to cervical cancer and its associated risks. The discussion focused on the importance of Pap smear exams as well as the negative stigma surrounding such exams. The MEDLIFE nurses also covered the idea that cervical cancer is not, in fact, heredetary, but rather it is cause by damage from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. The floor was also opened to any general questions community members may have. Educational workshops within communities are an important part of the MEDLIFE mission because they provide a safe and open environment where community members can express concerns. They are a great way to build awareness, organization, and trust within a community!

14-12-7281Over 20 community members from Villa Rica as well as the new MEDLIFE interns were in attendance.

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14-12-7299MEDLIFE staff member, Teresa, lectures on the warning signs of breast cancer.

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14-12-7308Self breast exams are not only imporant for women; men can be affected by breast cancer as well!

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14-12-7318Educational workshops are an opportunity for community members to express any concerns they have. Questions are not limited to the night's topic!

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14-12-7331Carmen, another member of the MEDLIFE staff, demonstrates how a Pap smear would be conducted at one of our clinics.

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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.

Nadine Heredia is a community in Lima, Peru established in 2012. MEDLIFE has been working in Nadine since its founding and this week we will complete our eight staircase project. 
 1Nadine Heredia Community.
 
Fabiola Rosales (age 29), is a member of one of the 350 families who have benefited from this project. She has been living in Nadine since 2014 at the highest part of the hill, next to the “Wall of Shame”, a wall emblematic of the class divide in Lima, separating the district of San Juan de Miraflores from Surco which is one of the wealthiest areas in Lima.  
 
2Fabiola Rosales holding her baby.
 
Three days after giving birth to her son Alonso, Fabiola fell on the steep hillside. She believes the community will be better once the staircase is built because it will be easier to climb up and down to her house, and most importantly, it will reduce the number of accidents that occur when children go outside to play with their friends.
 
The first staircases in Nadine were built by each manzana, or block. This reflected a fragmented sense of unity, community members would only participate in the staircase that was benefiting their street, they would not help other blocks build their staircases. This attitude became toxic to the community; it created hostility between neighbors and also limited their progress. Building a staircase requires a lot of people to mix the cement to form a chain to pass buckets up the hill and level off each individual step. Without the support of neighbors from all streets, building a staircase takes twice as long and may never be finished.
 
 IMG 3799Jose Sanchez (red shirt) working at the staircase.
 
When Jose Sanchez (age 30) became the community leader of Nadine last year, he set out with one goal: to improve the relationship between the neighbors so the entire community could work together towards a common good. “I think this can be achieved by applying something that I learned when I was in school in 2000. One of my teachers said that one of the best ways to motivate people to support you is through facts,” says Jose. Jose never misses the weekly Sunday community meeting and tries to involve people in the projects by telling the truth. In Peru, it is very common to find unfinished projects due to organizations who make promises they are unable to keep. In these meetings, if Jose says that a staircase will be built, the community members believe him. When people see you meet the demands of the community, they start to get involved. Jose's hard work is starting to pay off;  in the staircase we're building this week, we have more community members from all blocks participating than in any other staircase we have built with them.
 
Despite working night shifts, Jose supervised the staircase project every day and helped the community members and the group of MEDLIFE volunteers in Lima this week. He hopes that teamwork will prevail and that someday the people of Nadine will have the same motivation he does to accomplish every project. “To the community, to the ones who are parents like me, we are inspired everyday to accomplish our inner goal: to provide a better quality of life to our children so that they have a better life than we did.” 
 

 IMG 39578th Staircase inauguration at Nadine Heredia.

April 27, 2017 4:26 pm

Life after the Huaicos

Written by Sam Roberson

Tents provided by the municipal government line the streets, inside them varying levels of food, water and possessions. Some families have a car parked outside the tent, others have functioning kitchens with ovens and stoves powered by gas. Still many have little more than the clothes and belongings they managed to salvage from the flood.

Since after the huaicos that destroyed parts of the 27 de Junio community in Lima last month, there is no clear plan of recovery in place for those displaced from their homes. Those in the Encampments are in an inbetween state, living with the wake of the disaster.

IMG 8254Water is distributed from the truck contracted by MEDLIFE to 27 de Junio.

IMG 8281A stray dog interrupts the trip bringing buckets of water back to a tent.

When MEDLIFE arrived with a water truck, the residents flock to fill up any buckets and barrels they have. With no access to the water system of Lima the trucks filling up plastic tanks and barrels is the only way to get a large amount of potable water. Even then, the water trucks cost money and inconsistently visit the community.

The  Simeon Emiliano Ramirez Mendoza, who now lives in tent in 27 de Junio, says there has been little aid from the government and he expects little in the future.

Below the tents in the washed out river bed, the debris of homes swept away from the huaycos remains. Tempora Ventura Donato use to live close to the Huaycoloro River before her house was swept away during the huaicos. She now lives in a tent with her son, daughter in law and sisters up the hill from her old home.

IMG 8308Tempora Ventura Donato points to where her home once stood before it was swept away in the huaycos.

She stands where her home once stood with her family while some of them wash up with buckets in their bathing suits to bathe. Donato says her home was swept away in the middle of the night and they have lived in the tents since then. They are still able to use a well to get water for bathing, but the water is not potable.

In the camp, a comedor, a public kitchen serving discounted meals, operates off of food from the government as well as donations. Stocked with cans of tuna, dry pasta, chicken and potatoes, women living in the encampment prepare a large pot of atun con tallarine, tuna with noodles.

IMG 8344Women continue to cook for their community in the comedor, running off food from government and donated supplies.

The comedor functions like much of 27 de Junio now, where life attempts to carry on as usual through the inconsistent government aid and donations provided. After the Huaicos, many people are living as refugees in their own community.


MEDLIFE has been carrying out a special project to bring medical assistance, donations and water trucks to communities affected by the huaycos. You can DONATE to our efforts to aid the victims of the disaster.

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