This blog is part of a series showcasing chapters that won awards in this years MEDLIFE Awards. Each week we will be talking to a chapter to hear about their keys to success. Find out how to start a MEDLIFE chapter at your school HERE.
 
University of Nevada Reno’s MEDLIFE Chapter has made strides in expanding members and was this years runner up in MEDLIFE Awards for the social media category. In it’s second year, Anisha Chedi, Marketing/Advertising Chair, implemented social media strategies for the chapter like creating daily promo content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and creating their own graphics to promote events and activities.
 
We caught up with Christina Chen, UNR MEDLIFE’s co-president, to talk about her chapter and work with MEDLIFE.
 10551708 988382614510135 3734612100353194608 oUNR Chapter members on a project work day in Lima, Peru.
 
How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?
 
One of my close friends, Lucia Sanchez, first brought this chapter to the University of Nevada, Reno and built it from ground up. I had heard about it, but was not very involved. Until the end of Spring 2014, my sister and I decided to jump right into attending a mobile clinic in Lima and from then on forward, we've constantly been involved with MEDLIFE UNR. I fell in love with what MEDLIFE stood for and had to offer, embracing both community service locally and abroad, providing medicine to communities worldwide, and educating and assisting communities/people develop. 
 
What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?
 
Since this school year was geared towards restructuring and rebuilding of the chapter, we utilized the University's resources, especially our club fairs to promote the chapter. A lot of our activities were revolved around local volunteering, which gained a bit of attention from our campus. It wasn't until a recent early transition of executive board officers did we really utilize our social media, thanks to our new marketing/advertising chair, Anisha Chedi. She has been very diligent about posting MEDLIFE Nevada's activities, along with embracing campus events.
 
Also, during meetings, making them more activity based and interactive. We would prep snack packs for distribution and was a great way to socialize with the members. At the same time, we would include icebreakers and activities to keep the members more engaged, rather than just staring at a powerpoint. 
 
I definitely turned to my MEDLIFE liaison, Emily Gardner, a lot for advice and monthly meetings for inspiration. She always kept me motivated and encouraged me to keep my head up when it came to difficult times of rebuilding the chapter. So shout out to her and a big thank you!! 
 
In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?
 
Being such a small chapter, in a small city, I'm very proud that we've managed to send members on mobile clinics. Although they are minimal number of participants, every year we've managed to send people to either Lima, Peru or Riobamba, Ecuador.
 1546Volunteers pose on a completed staircase in Lima, Peru.
 
What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?
 
A personal memory is my mobile clinic experience back in 2014. It was a life-changing experience that I loved! On a whole scale level of the chapter, I would being able to finally work with a new full executive board with members who were very adamant about promoting MEDLIFE was a great experience. Passing on the torch to the newly transitioned executive board makes me hopeful about leaving the chapter in a stable stage to keep growing. 
 
Do you have any advice for other chapters?
 
General advice: keep things fun and exciting at meetings. It's hard to keep member attendance when meetings are merely powerpoints. Add activities, competitions, create families, etc...get to know your members.
 
Find out how to start a MEDLIFE chapter at your school HERE
April 18, 2017 3:26 pm

Navya Singirikonda : 50:50 Campaign

Written by Rosali Vela

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Navya Singirikonda from Texas A and M raised 3000$ in her 50:50 campaign for her Mobile Clinic Trip to Cusco. We spoke with her to find out how she ran such a succesful campaign and about her experience on her MEDLIFE trip. 

How did you first hear about the 5050 campaign?

I had a friend who did MEDLIFE last year so she told me about it, but also it was on the website.

Why did you decide to do the 50:50 Campaign?

I think it’s good awareness for people. Most of the people who raised money, who gave money, friends and people who don’t really know about this kind of thing, it was nice to bring that awareness. It also helped me, I don’t make any money, so it was nice to make some money from that.

How long did you fundraise for?

About 20 days- not long.

What did you do to be so successful with your 50:50 campaign?

I think I publicized it really well. I reached out to the people I thought would be able to help me. I’m glad I used the 50:50 versus something else. It was just better organized and kind of made the point clear of what it was for.

Did you encounter any obstacles in the process and if so how did you overcome them?

I didn’t have any issues.

How was organizing a positive experience and what did you learn from it?

Honestly I was so surprised by how generous people are I did raise a lot of money, 3000$ which isn’t small, and it was nice to see how people are that kind and willing to help me even though they don’t really know what I’m doing. So I think that was nice and probably makes me feel a little closer to some of the people that I hadn’t talked to in awhile.

How do you feel about the impact you made raising money for the people you worked with this week?

I really thought it was amazing. I noticed their gratitude, just how gentle and nice of people they are. But I think them being that way, them being willing to let me into their home, let me into their communities, makes me feel like I should keep doing that. It really was very motivational doing this. It helped me realize that this isn’t something that is crazy and out there- that I can do it all the time.

This week we interviewed Spencer Treu, President of the Winona State MEDLIFE chapter, about how the chapter's success. The chapter has been very successful, growing very rapidly, attending several trips, and brining $5000 worth of medical supplies to their recent Mobile Clinic in Cusco.

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How did you get involved with MEDLIFE? 

It’s actually a funny little story, halfway through my college career I switched from nursing to pre-med. I was at the club fair looking for the pre-med club. I thought well I’m pre-med, I should join the pre-med club. There was this table called MEDLIFE. It was two girls who had just created the club and had recently taken a trip. This was their second year doing it. I had approached them and was like 'is this the Pre-med club?' And they were like 'no this is MEDLIFE, this is way better'. I was like 'alright I’m interested, I’ll hear you out.'  They said 'we're planning on going to Ecuador this year.' And I was sold. I went to Tena last year just traveling as a member and it was truly a life changing experience. I think everyone who comes on these trips realizes what it can do for you. And kind of more than anything puts things in perspective and gives you a new world view so then you can take that back home. Whether you’re going into medicine education or whatever, just having that perspective is really important. After that trip we came back, we had a few meetings here and there, and the officers approached me and said “hey you should run for chapter president. We created this club and we’d like to keep it going.”

I said, “Ya sure I’d love too.” I was fortunate enough to get elected by my fellow members, I’m here leading this trip this year and it’s been phenomenal so far.

What has your chapter accomplished since you’ve been working with MEDLIFE?

Well actually, I think we’ve been kicking butt. Tanya and Sam were the two girls who created the club, and within months of creating the club, they were on a trip to Lima, Peru. The following year, when I joined, we did a lot of fundraiser stuff. They got a small amount of money from student senate and took another trip within 12 months of creating the club. So they had two trips underneath their belt within a very short time of creating the club. Then I took over, we got our eboard together, did some fundraising, we actually brought a little over $5000 worth of medical equipment over for this trip to Cusco. Although we are a smaller university around of 8000 students, we have 28 active members, and about 95% of our active members will travel with us. That is my biggest thing that I am most proud of with the club. Not anything that I or any of the officers have done, but just that we have a lot of passionate students an Winona State that not only get involved, but say, 'I see what you guys are doing and I want to get over there and help and not just stay on the fundraising coordination side of things.' That’s pretty inspiring to me.

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What did you do to get people so engaged so quickly?

When I took over, I thought, 'what can I do to make sure this club maintains momentum and keeps going?' I thought, if I can get people on these trips, they are going to keep going, and they are going to tell their friends about it. There is nothing better I can do than to get people to go on these trips and actually see these things for themselves, help these people, hand that kid a tooth brush, throw some cement on the floor. That’s what going to get people coming back, that’s what is going to build the organizations. From an E-board perspective we just make sure things are as easy as possible, you know, write out everything on the whiteboard, click this click that, step by step so that things are always taken care of for them. One E-board member actually took care of all the flights, so all the students had to do was show up and pay the money. A lot of these pre-med and education students are super busy in school, and we want them to get overseas with us and come on the trips, and in order to do that we gotta do kind of alot for them just to make their life easier. 

What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel throughout my life. Starting in the 4th grade, in Jamaica, I was driving through areas that from the outside you can see like wow this is different than where I’m from. At 4th grade you don't really understand what that means. You can definitely tell that the resources aren’t there. I kept traveling and seeing places like this in Central and South America, but in the first MEDLIFE trip it really hit home. I saw the medical side of things, and on this trip, I really got to be in people’s home’s and community. The most memorable part was on the reality tour this year, actually stepping inside of one of the homes for the first time. You step in, and although you might have thought what it looked like inside, it just confirms it. All of a sudden, you're upset with yourself for every time you’ve been upset about something little. You kind of just step back and think, there is a clay floor, cracked mud walls, a ceiling that is burned from cooking in the kitchen, there is no ventilation. You feel this obligation in a sense, I’m young, I’m able bodied and minded, I have this chance to turn a dream into a reality. You can’t just go home and go back to your normal life and forget about it, because that night I get home from my flight and I get back in my queen size bed, which is super comfy and awesome, they will still be going to bed in the clay house. You can’t forget about that. You have make sure to keep moving forward to grow organizations like this, spread the knowledge, spread the generosity.

Alison Jae Lenon

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How did you get involved with a 50:50 Campaign?          

My name is Alison, and I did a 50:50 campaign for my trip to Riobamba because I wanted to reduce the price for my trip but the more I did it the more I realized I want to support MEDLIFE’s cause. Especially to help low income families in Ecuador. And that really resonated with me when I finally got here and realized how powerful the 50:50 campaign is and how it really helps the people here. What I did to do that was post it on facebook and asked them to donate as a Christmas present instead of getting me an actual present it was just an overall effort from my family and friends. I raised about $1400 and half of it went to my trip and half of it went to MEDLIFE. I am really proud of myself for that.

What challenges did you face?

            I think the hardest part about the 50:50 campaign is explaining to people what they are donating too. People don’t want to just donate money and then not know where there money went. So I spent a lot of time telling people what they were donating to and why I want to raise money for MEDLIFE.  It was just really hard at first, the first four days to get people to donate to the campaign

Why did you decide to do a 50:50 Campaign?

          I did it just to help out MEDLIFE. I was looking at the videos in Riobamba and all the clinics they had participated in before, and I knew that my money was going to a great cause.

Caroline Wang

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How did you start a 50:50 Campaign?

            My name is Caroline Wang. I got started with 50:50 campaign because as soon as I signed up the website asked me if I wanted to start a fundraising campaign. I knew I wanted to fundraise my trip and I knew that the 50:50 was a good way to fundraise for myself but also for the MEDLIFE communities in general. Because a lot of these communities need the help. And for a lot of family members that would donate to the 50 50 campaign would not only be giving back to me but would also be giving back to these communities that need it.

What was your fundraising strategy?

          I fundraised for about 3 weeks. I started as soon as I signed up. It was really convenient to sign up. I sent it out on facebook, Instagram, twitter, and tried to get as many donations as I could. Especially with the holidays coming around, a lot of people were really generous. I asked for donations as my Christmas present, and that’s how I was able to rack up a lot of money.

How did you feel about the contribution you made?

         I raised about 1000 dollars and about 500 of that went to the community and it was really just humbling to see where the money was going. We visited rodrigo’s house. We saw pictures of the stairs being built in Peru and it was really just- it felt good to see that the money was being used for something useful not just for my trip itself. Meeting and interacting with the locals in the communities, it made me feel very privileged and very grateful for what I have back at home. Coming here and seeing this, I love giving back. I think its important to give back not only in our communities in the states but also globally. It is definitely something I would like to do again. I think MEDLIFE does a great job of helping communities and making sure its an ongoing project and not just a one time thing with a continued followup process.

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On January 7th, the Miami University of Ohio MEDLIFE chapter will arrive in Moshi, Tanzania for a week of Mobile Clinics From an outside perspective, it is easy to focus on the work that will be done in Moshi as the start and end of this chapter’s work, yet when volunteers arrive in Tanzania, the efforts have already started back in the United States.

Miami University, like many MEDLIFE chapters, fundraises throughout the year. Elaine Sidler, Miami University of Ohio MEDLIFE President, says the greatest source of fundraising comes from their Color Run 5k, now in its second year. The event brought in over $4,000 to bring the combined fundraising from other events to $5000.

allisonThe Miami University of Ohio MEDLIFE Excutive board.

According to Sidler, the funds were split between MEDLIFE for projects and the Oxford Free Clinic, a clinic in Oxford, Ohio seeking to provide basic medical care to underserved citizens and ensure they have access to the medications prescribed for their treatment.

A unique approach the Miami chapter has taken in preparing for their trip to Tanzania is the Pads for a Purpose event. Past president of the chapter, Allison Kumnick, came up with the idea after a MEDLIFE trip to Tanzania after observing the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products to women and girls in the area.

Kumnick learned about handmade, reusable pads from students from the Kansas University MEDLIFE chapter who were bringing them over from the United States. The pads are made from cotton stuffing enclosed in a towelling fabric and fabric square. These are cut in the shape of the a pad and sewn together to create the pads.

Kumnick was able to get funds from the Miami University Women’s Center on campus for materials. After reserving a room, they were able to get over 100 women sewing pads.   

allisonAllison Kumnick (left) helped to organize the Pads for a Purpose event at Miami University to create reusable pads to women and girls in Tanzania.

“We reserved a room in our student center and girls from MEDLIFE, sororities, and other clubs came together to sew the pads,” Sidler said. “The atmosphere was amazing; everyone was sitting with friends and talking while they made them and we were playing an awesome “Girl Power” playlist from Spotify.”

In areas with a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, reusable pads can greatly enhance women’s ability to work, go to school and quality of life. Talking about menstruation is taboo in much of the world, including the United States, but having secure access to the products necessary to deal with it is a step towards greater freedom of choice for women and girls.

Thank you to the Miami University of Ohio’s Chapters contribution to MEDLIFE as well as their support of local health initiatives. We wish them well on their way to Moshi, Tanzania.

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