July 11, 2011 10:01 am

Addressing Malnutrition in Rural Ecuador

Written by JP Gorham

Our summer interns in Ecuador have been working to reduce malnutrition in Andean communities. JP Gorham, Dartmouth '11, can fill you in on what they've accomplished so far:

10-1

After returning from my first MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in Cebadas, Ecuador three years ago, I was restless. MEDLIFE's commitment to sustainable health had inspired me, but I couldn't help but think that we could be doing more. I wanted to help the communities on the ground, but as a student, what could I do?

Before our internship in Riobamba began, Rachel and I spent time researching the problem of malnutrition in Ecuador. We found that in spite of a huge monetary commitment, the government's preventative approach to eradicating child malnutrition had largely failed to improve the situation. In a 2004 survey, 23% of Ecuadorian children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished. This number jumps to 40% in the Andean region, where we're living this summer. We wanted to help in the Ecuadorian governments efforts to bring those numbers down.

 

July 7, 2011 4:24 pm

Meet the Interns: Oana

Written by Tommy Flint

Oana Butnareanu is serving as a MEDLIFE summer intern in Lima, Peru. How did she end up in Latin America?  She puts it in her own words:

9-1Where are you from?

I was born in Romania and I grew up in Hollywood, California, but I'm totally Latin American at heart.  I just wrapped up my junior year at Stanford, where I am double majoring in Biology and Iberian and Latin American Cultures.


Why did you decide to be a MEDLIFE intern?

I love Spanish, people, medicine and adventure! I have always wanted to work with underprivileged communities in Latin America, especially in a medical setting, and this seemed like the perfect place to start.

What was your first impression of Lima?

I dubbed Lima “the city of contrasts.” It's absolutely astonishing that places of extreme poverty like Pamplona Alta and areas of relative wealth (by Peruvian standards) like Miraflores and Jockey Plaza can exist within a few kilometers of one another. The people are also pretty amazing; they're some of the most warm and welcoming inpiduals I have ever met!

What do you look forward to most this summer?

Peruvian telenovelas (soap operas)! Also trying the amazing local cuisine and hanging out with all the Peruvian staff here in the office – they're awesome!

Oana's fluency in Spanish has come in handy so far – she has served as the group's translator on a number of occasions. We look forward to having Oana assist with a number of educational initiatives MEDLIFE is launching this summer. Check back here to see the results of her work!

June 24, 2011 1:52 pm

Meet the Interns: Rachel

Written by Tommy Flint

Rachel Eggleston is a valuable member of MEDLIFE's Student Advisory Board. She will be serving in Ecuador this summer with fellow interns JP and Meredith. Rachel is currently developing a child nutrition program along with JP, under the guidance of our Director of Operations in Ecuador, Martha Chicaiza.

4-1Where are you from?

I grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, but I currently live in Hanover, New Hampshire. I will be a senior at Dartmouth College in the fall. I love studying Neuroscience and Spanish!

Why did you apply for the MEDLIFE internship?

I have been involved in the Dartmouth chapter of MEDLIFE since my freshman year. I bonded with other Medlifers over scarf and grilled cheese sales, and they quickly became my best friends! I first traveled to Ecuador for a MEDLIFE mobile clinic two years ago, and applied for the MEDLIFE internship because I was interested in spending a longer amount of time here. I've served on the SAB for the past year, and can't wait to contribute to MEDLIFE's operations here in South America. I'm so excited to meet all of the students participating in mobile clinics this summer!

Tell us more about this malnutrition project JP mentioned?

Each intern is asked to work on a specific project this summer, and JP and I decided to focus on chronic malnutrition, or "stunting." In May, the government released a new assistance program for pregnant women and children under 5. We met with regional Ministry of Health officials this morning, and are currently in the process of determining how we can most be of help. Meredith is also going to use her media expertise to help us make some educational videos.

What have you enjoyed most about living in Riobamba so far?

Bonding with JP, Meredith, and Martha, of course! Our apartment doubles as our office, so we're always together! Can't get enough. We're hard at work in the communities or in the apartment during the day, and unwind at night by playing Bananagrams or watching Justin Bieber documentaries with Martha. I've had a lot of fun exploring Riobamba as well, and I've fallen in love with the enchiladas at Pizzería San Valentin! Thanks for the tip, Tommy.

Glad you're enjoying those enchiladas, Rachel! We'll be on the lookout for updates from your nutrition project in the coming weeks. Good luck!

June 24, 2011 1:44 pm

Meet the Interns: Minnie

Written by Administrator
Introducing Minnie Dasgupta, one of MEDLIFE's summer interns in Lima, Peru.  Minnie is a star MEDLIFE student member -- she created the MEDLIFE UC Berkeley Chapter 2 years ago and has quickly turned it into one of our most successful student chapters nationwide!  This summer, Minnie will be lending a hand in all sorts of MEDLIFE activities, such as working with our Patient Follow-up Coordinators, leading student volunteers on MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics, and designing new programs for MEDLIFE student chapters for the coming year.
 
Where are you from?
I'm originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, but I live in Berkeley, California during most of the year. I'm going to be a senior at UC Berkeley this fall, double majoring in Developmental Genetics and South Asian Studies.
 
 
Seriously, how awesome are the vests?
 
What is your favorite MEDLIFE memory?
My best MEDLIFE memories are from last summer, when I attended my first two-week Mobile Clinic in Riobamba. I loved talking with all the kids, and one day I remember a few of them asked me how to say all the different colors in English.  They laughed hysterically when I told them we have a word called “purple,” and then promptly ran away to tell the rest of their friends.
What has surprised you the most about Lima?
Probably the fact that there are so many levels of wealth within such close proximity of each other – it's a 20-30 minute bus ride from a really extravagant casino to the most barren and impoverished communities. Also, I've seen at least 3 KFC's here which totally caught me off guard.
What do you like about being an intern?
Learning more about MEDLIFE's goals, exploring a new and exciting culture, and our awesome MEDLIFE vests (not necessarily in that order).
Are you really, really good at the board game Taboo™?
Why yes, yes I am*.
 
Thanks, Minnie.  We're looking forward to hearing more about your work in the coming weeks!
*Statement not yet verified -- we are still waiting to bring some board games to the MEDLIFE office in Lima!

Introducing Minnie Dasgupta, one of MEDLIFE's summer interns in Lima, Peru.  Minnie is a star MEDLIFE student member -- she created the MEDLIFE UC Berkeley Chapter 2 years ago and has quickly turned it into one of our most successful student chapters nationwide!  This summer, Minnie will be lending a hand in all sorts of MEDLIFE activities, such as working with our Patient Follow-up Coordinators, leading student volunteers on MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics, and designing new programs for MEDLIFE student chapters for the coming year.

3-1Where are you from?

I'm originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, but I live in Berkeley, California during most of the year. I'm going to be a senior at UC Berkeley this fall, double majoring in Developmental Genetics and South Asian Studies. 

What is your favorite MEDLIFE memory?

My best MEDLIFE memories are from last summer, when I attended my first two-week Mobile Clinic in Riobamba. I loved talking with all the kids, and one day I remember a few of them asked me how to say all the different colors in English.  They laughed hysterically when I told them we have a word called “purple,” and then promptly ran away to tell the rest of their friends.

What has surprised you the most about Lima?

Probably the fact that there are so many levels of wealth within such close proximity of each other – it's a 20-30 minute bus ride from a really extravagant casino to the most barren and impoverished communities. Also, I've seen at least three KFC's here which totally caught me off guard.

What do you like about being an intern?

Learning more about MEDLIFE's goals, exploring a new and exciting culture, and our awesome MEDLIFE vests (not necessarily in that order)

.Are you really, really good at the board game Taboo™?

Why yes, yes I am*

Thanks, Minnie.  We're looking forward to hearing more about your work in the coming weeks!

*Statement not yet verified -- we are still waiting to bring some board games to the MEDLIFE office in Lima!

When MEDLIFE first started in 2005, our goal was to deliver medical care to those without access in Latin America. As we spent more time in the communities we visited on our Mobile Clinics, we learned more about the myriad problems constraining their residents' livelihoods and preventing them from leading healthy lives. We realized that delivery of healthcare services wasn't the only way that we could help individuals and families in need, so we decided to broaden our work to encompass community development projects. These projects' overall aim is to improve the health and living conditions of individual communities. Always working in collaboration with community leaders and residents, we have since built classrooms, bathrooms, and washrooms in rural and urban elementary schools, and stairways and retention walls for hillside villages. Funding for many of these projects now comes from the MEDLIFE Fund. All public donations and fundraising for MEDLIFE goes 100% to our community development projects.

Rachel Eggleston is a MEDLIFE summer intern in Ecuador. Here's her perspective on a community development project in Chimborazo:

1-1Today, fellow interns JP, Meredith, and I traveled to the rural village of Pull Manuel Laso, Chimborazo, deep in the Ecuadorian Andes mountain range, to check on the progress of a MEDLIFE-sponsored bathroom construction project. We woke up around 7 am and hopped in a taxi, which took us to the bus station. One bus and one government vehicle later, we arrived in Pull Manuel Laso. Francisca Paguay, the director of the community's school, greeted us immediately. Sra. Paguay led us down a trail to the bathroom project, which overlooks the vast agricultural and mountainous landscape typical of many communities in rural Chimborazo. When we arrived, several community members stopped their whitewashing to greet us. They were eager to show us what they had accomplished since Martha (Director of Operations, MEDLIFE Ecuador) last visited.

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