January 23, 2017 1:36 pm

A Home for Rosa Morocho

Written by Jake Kincaid

IMG 9830Nicol Morocho sneaks out to get a popcicle while she waits with her mom at a medical clinic.

     Every morning Nicol, a bubbly nine-year old Peruvian girl, descends the hill she lives on alone to get to school. She says goodbye to her mom Rosa, who sits on a rug next to the bed in the middle of their one room home. Nicol will return later with food for both of them, and she knows her mom will still be there when she gets back- because Rosa cannot leave her house on her own.

IMG 9800Rosa on the cushion where she spends much of her time.

     Rosa has never been able to walk and is barely able to use her right arm. She has had this handicap since she was a child, but has never had a diagnosis.

     MEDLIFE met Rosa while working on the water tank project in Laderas. She lives next to where the tank was constructed, and as MEDLIFE staff worked on the tank, they also got to know Rosa and her daughter Nicol.

     Nicol has assumed a lot of the responsibility of caring for her when she is not in school. Bringing her mother food from the comedor (government subsidized restaurant) and markets, assisting her with all daily tasks.

    Rosa lives high in Lima’s hills and getting to and from her house is extremely difficult. She didn’t leave the hill she lives on for the entire Peruvian winter, because the steep dirt road gets too wet and slick for a car to drive up or to push her wheelchair up. The last time she went down the hill her brother took her to see Nicol’s dance performance.

    Rosa cannot afford to live somewhere more accessible, she survives on what her brothers, who live nearby can give her.

    Hoping that perhaps some medical procedure could improve her condition, MEDLIFE took her to a doctor in January of 2017. Getting Rosa to and from the hospital was very difficult, even with three people to help push and carry her up and down the steep dirt paths. We couldn’t get a cab to take us that high on the hill after the appointment, so we had to trick cab drivers, knowing they would feel too guilty to abandon us on the hillside with Rosa. It was the only way we could get her home.

IMG 9864IMG Rosa and Nicol wait in the clinic to get an X-Ray with MEDLIFE nurse Beatriz.

 

IMG 9901Beatriz hoists Rosa onto the x-ray machine.

     When we reached the final steep pitch up to Rosa’s home, the wheels of the taxi spun-out as the driver cursed at us in Spanish. We had to get out and push Rosa up ourselves. Thankfully, the road was dry. 

IMG 9922Pushing Rosa up the hill.

       The trip was worth it. After getting an X-ray, Rosa finally learned the cause of her condition. She was a victim of Polio, a virus that in some cases can spread to the nervous system causing irreparable damage and paralysis.

     Polio has been eradicated by vaccines in the majority of the world. The last case reported in the United States was in 1979, but cases continued appearing in Peru until 1991. In Rosa’s case, it cost her the use of both her legs and one arm.

     While there is no medical procedure that will give Rosa more independence, we can adapt her environment to suit her needs.

     MEDLIFE architect, Edinson Aliaga, is working on designing a special house for her that will give her more independence. When her daughter, Nicol, is at school, Rosa is on her own. She can move by crawling on the floor with her one useable arm, but nothing in her home is designed to be used by someone who cannot stand up.

IMG 0008 2Edinson talks with Nicole to gain insight for his design.

     Edinson is designing the home with one key design mantra: “Everything possible needs to be low to the ground.”

     For example, Edinson has designed a table in the kitchen so that the Rosa can sit on the floor and Nicol in a chair while they both eat off of the same table together. The entire home is being designed with this concept. Light switches close to the ground, a handicapped bathroom, a sink to wash-up with close to the ground and ramps instead of stairs.

16196163 10155090291586454 821560638 o 1Here is a rough draft of the design for the kitchen. You can see the design for the table that will let Nicole and Rosa sit together.

    This new home can make a huge difference in the lives of Rosa and Nicole, giving them more freedom, comfort, and independence. Please help us make this dream a reality by donating here.

 

January 19, 2017 1:36 pm

House Clean-up Project in Cusco

Written by Jake Kincaid

   In the 2017 winter clinic season MEDLIFE Cusco began to help organize, renovate and clean people's houses alongside our fuel efficient stove project. The effort was a great success, leaving community members with nicer homes while fostering connection and cultural exchange between volunteers and locals. We also worked to improve sanitation by enouraging better hygiene practices like, for example, encouraging people to not keep livestock in their kitchens.

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We worked closely with community members to make their homes a better living space.

IMG 5001Volunteers sanded and painted walls.

IMG 5035They organized belongings.

IMG 5222There were holes in walls that needed to be filled.

 

 IMG 5101Before the renovation project.

 IMG 5105Volunteers beginning to clear away clutter and start cleaning.

 IMG 6095Walls were painted, shelves were put on and belongings were organized.

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IMG 6578Volunteers worked closely with home owners to improve living spaces.

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IMG 7205The finished homes looked beautiful!

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IMG 7222He is the first in his family to stay in school at his age, and was kind enough to write and read a poem to thank the group for their work.

 

Last friday, the community of Laderas Nueva Esperanza was able to inaugurate a new water reservoir. The project was the result of three years of collaboration between MEDLIFE, leaders from Laderas and the sponsorship of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California-Berkeley MEDLIFE chapters. Through fundraising efforts and donations, the UW-Madison and UC Berkeley chapters were able to contribute to the project and members were present to witness the inauguration.


Laderas, located in the foothills of Lima, is not serviced by SEDAPAL, the city water supply of Lima, and relied on purchasing water from private vendors at a higher price. The water reservoir will help the community by allowing them to store more water in a clean and sanitary facility.

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The new water reservoir in Laderas Nueva Esperanza.

IMG 6849A band played to celebrate the completion of the new water reservoir.

IMG 6870The University of Wisconsin-Madison helped fundraise for the construction of the water reservoir.

IMG 6792Volunteers from UC Berkley and UW Madison celebrate with Laderas Nueva Esperanza.

December 22, 2016 8:29 am

Mapping Bathroom and Staircase Projects

Written by Jake Kincaid

MEDLIFE has completed over 207 projects in Peru and 74 in Ecuador. Many of these projects are either Stair Cases or Hygiene projects, both of which have been a core component of MEDLIFE’s work from the beginning.

The majority of these projects had GPS coordinates saved for them in an archive. We decided to map them to get a sense of the scope of MEDLIFE’s between 2004 and 2017. Included in the map are the locations of most of the staircases, bathrooms, and a few school projects. Keep in mind, around 100 projects are missing from this map because we don’t have the coordinates. Can you find the project from your Mobile Clinic? Look for the year and month of the clinic.

In the steep hillsides of Villa Maria de Triunfo and San Juan De Miraflores, a simple concrete staircase can change lives. Families living in the area have no access to running water and instead are forced to haul buckets back and forth to their houses from large plastic containers filled daily by passing trucks. This task is not only time consuming but incredibly dangerous as the damp winter climate transforms the roads and pathways into slippery, eroding descents.

Adults and children alike are slowed down by the downward climb on their way to school and work, and fall-related injuries are common and costly. By building stairs, MEDLIFE is able to make the cumbersome daily journey easier, safer, and faster. It also is an important step in securing land titles and access to the public water system.

In 2011, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared diarrhoeal diseases to be the second leading cause of death in low-income countries. The WHO and UNICEF estimate that functional, clean bathrooms can reduce cases of diarrhea by more than 33%; simply being able to wash your hands with soap can reduce cases of diarrhea by more than 40%. Yet, for approximately 2.5 billion people, or 35% of the world's population, there is no functioning bathroom at all. If rural areas do not have functioning facilities, they are slower to be expanded upon and improved.

For MEDLIFE Ecuador, bathroom construction projects are an integral part of the health care work that we do. Projects are typically focused on rural, majority indigenous communities on the outskirts of cities. These areas are geographically isolated from access to reliable potable water and improved sanitation.

November 30, 2016 4:31 pm

Specialized Care

Written by Jake Kincaid

screen shot 2016 09 26 at 8 08Delia in her apron after one of her first days working at the sandwich cart.

When Delia Martin discovered that she needed surgery for her rare chronic disorder, Caroli Disease, her primary concern was not the physical pain and distress she would have to undergo- she didnt have the privilege of focusing on her personal suffering. She was worried about how she was going to feed her children while undergoing the lengthy recovery, during which she would not be able to hustle through the difficult commutes and long walks required to survive in Lima's informal economy, the primary source of income for those who live in the cities slums.

After meeting Delia in a Mobile Clinic, MEDLIFEâ's nurses visited her in her home and spent enough time with her to understand that her illness was not just a medical issue requiring a medical response. If we wanted to really help Delia, we needed to take things a step further and find a way to empower her to care for her family. After talking with her, we decided that in addition to paying for her surgery, we would give her a food-cart that she could make and sell sandwiches from. She could do it right in front of her house and while sitting down- so it would not interfere with her recovery, and she could continue with this work after she had recovered.

Delia's situation required a special response, and because of donations from our supporters, we had the ability to give it her. MEDLIFE brings this philosophy to all of our follow-up patients, and it is this approach that distinguishes us from a medical mission. We specialize our care and quickly adapt it to meet patients real needs, which we discover by building a personal relationship with them inside and outside of medical facilities over the course of years.

Delia is not the only one, in the MEDLIFE patient archives there are hundreds of stories like hers.

1MEDLIFE Nurse Carmen visiting Maura after an operation.

Maura Morales has been a MEDLIFE patient for almost two years. She was in a tragic accident while working as a moto-taxi driver that left her leg mangled, useless and in need of major reconstructive surgery. Maura's bad fortune continued when after finally getting the surgery using the public health system, Maura became the victim of malpractice and was left with an improperly reconstructed bone and an infection that threatened to take her entire leg.

When MEDLIFE met her, she was in need of another more expensive surgery and had no way to pay for it. She could hardly get to the base of the hill her house was built on to get to a paved road, there was no sidewalk or staircase and the steep dirt path was nearly unnavigable on crutches.

MEDLIFE began following her case closely, and our nurses got to know Maura very well, an inspiring woman with an unbreakable spirit who never stopped smiling and cracking jokes with them no matter how many steel rods were sticking out of her leg or how much pain it was causing her.

In addition to getting Maura on health insurance that would cover her surgeries and paying for what was not covered, MEDLIFE built a staircase in Maura's community. We went with her to every appointment, and even carried her down the staircase when she could no longer walk on crutches after her surgery. Then, we redesigned her bathroom, which was just a hole in the ground, to make it handicap accessible.

Maura is recovering and MEDLIFE nurses continue to visit her regularly.

IMG 7757John before he got his prosthesis.

John Caisaguano was 3 years old when a simple toddlers fall went horribly wrong and caused him to lose his eye. After 10 years and thousands of dollars, it still remained a gaping hole is his face that made him the subject of ridicule in school, caused chronic pain and was at risk for infection.

John needed a prosthetic eye.

Adequate prosthesis of any kind are hard to come by in the impoverished mountain communities of the Ecuadorian Andes. The barriers to access are significant for those families who attempt to seek healthcare up to modern standards in the cities. For subsistence farmers, long trips, expensive travel costs, long waits and a baffling bureaucracy all conspire to prevent even the most determined from getting the treatments they need. That is why ten years after the accident, John was still without a prosthetic eye.

In a matter of months MEDLIFE was able to get him in to see a specialist in Quito to get the proper prosthesis put in.

Untitled 3John with his new prosthesis.

MEDLIFE was referred to Janet by the family of an old MEDLIFE patient who we had helped get a heart surgery to correct a birth defect. The family was contacted by a man in a nearby village whose daughter, Janet, had the same problem, and our old patient's family put them in contact with us. MEDLIFE nurse Maria set out to go find the family. After hours of driving around remote indigenous villages looking for the family, who had no cell phone, she tracked the father down in a market selling produce. He brought us to his daughter who was helping her family work the fields. MEDLIFE was able to get Janet an appointment with specialists in Quito and she will be getting her surgery soon after preparatory procedures are completed.

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MEDLIFE began when Nick Ellis decided he was going to find a way to get Darwin a heart surgery, who was then a young boy with a similar condition living in the same region of Ecuador. Today MEDLIFE is still finding these types of patients. Janet's surgery will be the fifth heart surgery that MEDLIFE has done for children in the Ecuadorian Andes.

This holiday season, MEDLIFE is trying to raise the money that will allow us to keep specializing our care in 2017 for our patients who require a unique effort on our part to help them. MEDLIFE has been able to support many patients this year and we are eager to help many more this holiday season. All funds from our Holiday Campaign will go to specialized care for our patients.

A heart surgery for Janet, prosthetic eye for John and food cart for Dehlia are just a few of our patients cases supported by MEDLIFE's Project Fund. What separates MEDLIFE from other organizations is that 100% of all funds raised during this campaign will go straight to patients, assisting them with medical costs and continuing their healthcare in our sustainable follow-up program. We appreciate all of your support and hope you have a wonderful holiday season! Find out more here!
https://goo.gl/jTr6Nq

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