August 18, 2015 8:33 am

Meet the Interns Year-long 2015 Part 1

Written by Rosali Vela
2015-2-3-KristineName: Kristine Paiste
Hometown: Lodi, CA
School: University of California, San Diego
Major: Pharmacological Chemistry
 
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: In December of 2013 I decided to join a MEDLIFE mobile clinic to experience a new culture and to gain an understanding of healthcare in a developing country. However my expectations were far exceeded, and in that short amount of time I was completely immersed in all that MEDLIFE encompasses. From its inspiring efforts to help each community thrive, to the incredible stories and moments shared with the locals and volunteers, I came home with a new perspective and appreciation for life. Now two years later, I find myself again in this beautiful country ready to continue the movement and take on what's next!
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I graduated from UC San Diego in 2014 and am currently taking some time off before continuing my education in the medical field. I love to travel, hike, and experience new cultures, especially the food! When adventures aren't calling my name, you can usually find me reading, writing in my journal or watching YouTube/Netflix (who doesn't?). I also love to do arts and crafts, play board/video games, and go indoor rock-climbing!
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?: As an undergrad I was heavily involved in Alternative Breaks @ UCSD, a student-run organization that sends individuals on service-learning trips both nationally and internationally to address a diverse range of social justice issues. Through those years my eyes were opened to new ideas, perspectives and endless possibilities of creating real positive changes to our world. I had found my passion for life-long service and becoming an advocate for change and with MEDLIFE I found middle ground. Through medicine, education, and community development it drives all my passions in one amazing organization, taking the time to really understand the communities we work with and their needs to help build a foundation to thrive. So when the opportunity came and how could I not take it?
 
What was your first impression of Lima?: The first time I was in Lima was in 2013, and although I am currently here for Lima's winter instead of summer, both seasons have not failed to show the liveliness of this great city. Full of culture, food, history and life, Lima has a lot to offer. Though it is Peru's capital, there are areas that are still developing and it is hard not to notice some of the effects of poverty, but I hope throughout my time here I continue to fully immerse myself in all the good and the bad, and to take every opportunity to make the most out of it.
 
What are your goals for this internship?: Throughout my time here I hope to broaden my perspective on global health and the culture of Peru, all while strengthening my leadership roles on a larger scale. I also hope to gain a better understanding of how a non-profit works and attain hands-on experience from healthcare professionals to create a substantial positive impact on the communities we will be working with. By engaging in MEDLIFE's unique experience, I hope to continue my passion of serving others while traveling the world, taking on new challenges and immersing myself in a place far from home.
 

2015-2-1-April
Name: April Gulotti
Hometown: Oceanside New York
School: University of Delaware
Major: Exercise Science
 
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I went on my first trip sophomore year of college and when I cam back I ran for the position of President. I was elected and held that position for two years planning and coordinating more trips for University of Delaware students.
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am an active person who likes to make a difference. I find my greatest fulfillment by making others smile especially those suffering. Although we live in a massive world it doesn't mean each and every act of kindness goes dismissed because that one act of kindness can give a single individual the hope that they so desperately needed. Spreading kindness, helping others, and changing the world little by little is contagious. I am a diligent, hard working, and perseverant individual that likes to see the good in everyone. One of my best friends passed away this past October who I came on my first medlife trip with. His name was Enoch and he was the brightest soul I knew in every way imaginable. Although I thought he had taught me a lot about morals and life and the world we live in while he was here with me physically; his lessons, spirit, and glow became even more profound since he has passed. I owe much of who I am to the person he has helped me become.
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I wanted to become a MEDLIFE intern after going on previous trips and getting to know the past year long interns. I saw myself in many of them when I got to know the type of people they were. I felt instantly connected and I wanted to do something big. Something big to contribute to the world while still learning a lot about the foundation and logistics of what makes a successful and influential non- profit organization.
 
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was how beautiful and modern it was. But, when i saw the reality of Lima I was disappointed and sad. I saw the wall that was being built to divide the wealthy communities from the poor and it made me feel as if I was living in a past life where I read in my textbook growing up as a student of all the cast systems and inequality and injustice in the world. It was at that moment when I learned about the wall and witnessed it myself that I knew I had to get involved in a bigger way and that way manifested its way into the medlife internship.
 
What are your goals for this internship?: My goals for this internship is to grow relationships with patients who have stories to tell. I want to learn Spanish so I can communicate with poor families and children so I can tell them all the things I have wanted to and have felt for so long. I want to tell them that they are important to us and that they matter in the world and that life is a beautiful gift and although there is bad in the world there is also a lot of good with a lot of wonderful people and to never give up hope as hard as it may be.
 

2015-2-8-CristinaName: Cristina Negrón Busquets
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
School: Clark University
Major: Biological Sciences/Pre-Med
 
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: There wasn't a MEDLIFE chapter at my school so I recently found out about the organization through one of my close friends from home. She absolutely loved her mobile clinic trips and when I heard what MEDLIFE was about I applied for the internship.
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am an adventurous eater who takes naps on a daily basis. I love my family and friends, as well as my dog Kaya. This is probably the hardest part about being here, but they are also my inspiration to do it.
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I decided to become an intern at MEDLIFE because my goal is to pursue a medical career and to hopefully be able to help people that don't have medical resources and services readily available. I have worked with people in the United States that have intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) in the past and although the United States has great resources sometimes these still can not be easily accessed. I aspire to help this demographic as well as improving global health.
 
What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was that it was HUGE. I'm from a tiny island so every place is huge to me. Hopefully, I get to experience everything that this big city has to offer by the end of the internship.
 
What are your goals for this internship?: My main goal for this internship is to learn as much as I can from MEDLIFE and about how this great non-profit helps the people most in need. My goal in life is to join an organization like Doctors without Borders so having an internship in MEDLIFE will definitely teach me about improving global health and how to best do my part in giving back to the world.
 

2015-2-7-RoxanneName: Roxanne-A. Garibay
Hometown: Greenfield, CA
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Major: Biology & Spanish Minor
 
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I applied for our school's leadership board my junior year of college as our chapter was started. Senior year I wished to become more involved and joined the executive team. While I never went on a clinic trip during college, I enjoyed being on the team that expanded our club's knowledge of global health and sent volunteers on trips.
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I love food, pastries are my favorite. I also love traveling (naturally with moving to Peru) and being in new places; Cassis, France and Granada, Spain are my favorite cities.
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?: As I mentioned above, I was part of my school's executive board and was never able to go on a clinic trip. I applied for the internship for two reasons, the first to continue my involvement in MEDLIFE and my perspective to see the functioning of the organization as a while. Secondly, I also am planning to attend PA school and I felt that this internship would solidify my interest in healthcare.
 
What was your first impression of Lima?: It is enormous! It is also full of culture and different people, and slowly I am learning the different niches that are in the city. The ocean is also so beautiful with the extremely long and peaceful waves that crash on the cliff shores. Lastly, it is always cloudy, always.
 
What are your goals for this internship?: I hope to be able to expand my understanding of community health, culture and myself. I believe that this MEDLIFE internship will be a great highway to complete this, as well as learning the functions of an NGO. But overall, I hope to be able to help the communities here in a way that positively impacts them, whether this results in expanding on an individual project or with making connections with the patients. I also wish to both bring back the knowledge of community health abroad with me and allow the volunteers to have a sliver of the same experience.
 

2015-2-6-ChelseaName: Chelsea Barth
Hometown: Newport Beach, CA
School: Boston University
Major: Health Science
 
How I got involved with MEDLIFE:  I wanted to take a year off after college to get more experience in the field of global public health. I wasn't involved with MEDLIFE prior to my internship, but I found out about MEDLIFE after looking at different global health organizations online. I have always wanted to travel to South America and after reading about the work they have done, I knew I wanted to get involved right way.
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I love to travel and explore new places as well as meet new people. My favorite thing to do in a new city is go for a run to help me learn my way around. I also really enjoy just chilling at the beach or hanging out watching movies with friends. 
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I want to continue pursuing a public health career and felt I needed to get some hands on experience before I did so. I think that this internship gives me the opportunity to look at the multiple sides of public health and will hopefully help me figure out my next steps. I also loved that I will be able to gain some hands on experience by being out in the fields or helping out in the clinics
 
What was your first impression of Lima?: Lima is such a big and lively city. There is so much to see and do just in this one city. I am excited to be able to spend more time here and really experience all that it has to offer.
 
What are your goals for this internship?: I hope to be able learn more about how a global health non-profit runs. I also want to be able to learn more about the different aspects of global health so that I can figure out what I want to do next with my public health career. Another goal of mine is to be able to contribute to the MEDLIFE team and help make a difference in the communities we help.
August 10, 2015 9:05 am

Intern Journal: Andrew Lindeborg

Written by Andrew Lindeborg

Today was the day. With sweaty palms and few expectations, I would finally have the opportunity to accompany one of the nurses, Janet, for my first patient follow-up visit in the field.  I excitingly rushed down to the lower floor of the office, greeted her with a customary kiss on the cheek and introduced myself.  While we waited at the bus station, which was about a block or two from the office, I nervously attempted to converse with her in Spanish.  Feeling invigorated,I understood almost everything, the amount of time she had been working with MEDLIFE, the names and ages of her children, and the patients we were going to visit.

394 andrew intern journal1

It took about an hour and a half to travel to the location of the patients in Villa Maria del Triunfo. We whisked through Lima's infamous traffic on a city bus, transferred to a Combi, a privately owned transportation bus, and finally ended up in a cramped mototaxi chugging our way up the bumpy and uncomfortable dirt road.  When we arrived at the smog-covered community, I was struck by the intriguing beauty of overcrowded houses immersed in the faint smell of burning trash and echoing barks of stray dogs.  Janet and I had spent about an hour walking around one hill to the next. Finally after asking for what seemed like 100 people for directions, we arrived at a tattered and rustic house.  What I first noticed was the almost impossible stairs that we had to traverse just to arrive at their front door.  The uneven stairs were made out of stones and dirt and, when wet, would require the residents to navigate an extremely dangerous thoroughfare.

Every family member in the house politely greeted us when we entered and I finally found myself face to face with the patient, Francisco.  Sitting down on a worn out couch was a 69 year-old man with a ruggedly serene face framed by a smattering of withered grey hair.  He smiled and mumbled a few indistinguishable words to express his gratitude in light of the fact that he had to deal with so much. Before we had entered, Janet mentioned to me that this man suffered from a severe case of Alzheimer's, making it impossible for him to leave the house.  We sat down on another couch just a few feet from Francisco, while his wife patiently stood nearby. Once I handed the evaluation papers to Janet, I was a silent observer.  It was a back and forth communication between Janet and the patient's wife for about 20 minutes. Ultimately, all of Francisco's symptoms became clear.  He had pain in his joints, difficulty swallowing, controlling his bladder, and had a very difficult time conversing with others. He needed a 24/7 caretaker to aid in his daily activities.  I was shocked to learn that this family had limited access to basic resources, which many of us take for granted: running water, electricity, a clean and healthy living space, and easily accessible healthy food.  It quickly became clear that all of these factors contributed to the difficult situation Francisco and his family faced.  It not only is medicine that can provide a stable and healthy recovery, but also the correct environment.  Francisco slowly descended into a vegetative state because of the almost impossible trek to leave his house.  Their lack of running water and electricity made it very difficult to sustain a healthy living space.  On top of that, they had no access to general physicians or medicine.   However, despite all these challenges, they always had big smiles on their faces and laughed as if life was the best that it could be.

394 internjournalandrew 2

MEDLIFE has provided me with many new insights about myself and the world around me. This great organization identifies difficult situations and strives to alleviate the suffering and hardships of many in need.  They listen to the community and act upon what needs to be improved rather than rashly barging in and temporarily fixing a problem.  With Francisco's case, the nurses visit him regularly to ensure that he has sufficient medication and knowledge to sustain a stable lifestyle.  I hold in high regard one of MEDLIFE's core goals: to establish the proactiveness and personal sustainability within these great communities.  Even though Francisco and his family lack many basic resources, they still strive toward a better and brighter future.  After we had finished conversing, I was astonished to learn that he knew some English.  As we were leaving, he shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and said two words that deeply touched me, “My friend.” I feel immensely privileged to have been an advocate for MEDLIFE's mission this summer and hope to return in the near future.

394 internjournalandrew 3

August 6, 2015 3:12 pm

Intern Journal: Rolando Gerena

Written by Rolando Gerena

Peru. The country where the Spanish founded their empire and took over the Inca Empire. Having been in Lima for six weeks has put several things into perspective.  First off, the world is so large! The fact that I'm living in a city with over 3 million people is unbelievable. You see different faces everyday, whether on the street or on a bus. What's my point? That everyday in this city has potential. You can decide whether or not you want to make a name for yourself. You can assimilate with the culture, or you can stick to what makes you comfortable. You can enrich your life with positive experiences, or you can sit at home and go on social media. The possibilities are infinite, but it's for you to decide what it is that you want to get out of your stay.

391-intern-roly1

On one of the more recent mobile clinics, I was introduced to a daycare center called “Virgen del Buen Paso”. The UC Davis MEDLIFE chapter sponsored a project to repair the flooring and kitchen of the toddler area. The principal, Blanca, took us class by class to meet the kids. The kids loved seeing us and were in awe when they discovered we were Americans! It just so happened that the lesson of the day was poetry. Not many people know this but writing poetry is a hobby of mine.  A few of the kids recited some of their poems, and then they asked if any of the volunteers wanted to recite. Nobody knew any! So I decided to recite one of my own.

After taking the daycare tour, we walked to the playground. It was ginormous! There were a group of kids playing in a small section of the playground while the rest remained unoccupied. At first I thought it was because the kids enjoyed playing in the smaller section but I was then told that the majority of the playground had been closed due to infrastructural concerns. The main wall surrounding the playground was old and deteriorating. When brushed, the concrete would flake off.

The principal mentioned that it would take lots of money to fix it but it was something that they'd look into in the future. This caught my attention but I didn't think much of it at the moment. That same night I sat down to write in my journal and reminisce on the week's events. I got this sudden rush of anxiety and all my mind could think of was that daycare wall. I wanted to do something I had never done before. I wanted to leave my mark in Peru. I think what pushed me to start my own project was when the principal called me the “angel de los niños” which translates to the angel of the kids. 

This is the part where I talk about my good friend Carlos Benavides. Carlos is the director of all MEDLIFE development projects in Peru so I had to meet with him to discuss my plans. We both concluded that repairing thiswall would be a great idea but we first needed an engineers opinion.

392-internroly3

And that's where I'm at today. Making small amounts of progress and getting closer to the bigger picture. If there's one thing I've learned about Peru, or life in general, it's that you can't get anything done on your own. Carlos proved to me that being successful is all about the quality of your network. You save time, money, and resources just by knowing the right people.

Instead of hiring an engineer for a few hundred dollars, Carlos called over a friend to do it for free.  Instead of purchasing thousands of dollars worth of cement, Carlos found a person that can provide it for free. Instead of waiting a month to meet with government officials to discuss our plans, Carlos was able to get an appointment for the same day. Carlos is the perfect example of a leader and team member. Carlos didn't meet this people from behind a desk or computer. He met these people by going out into the city and meeting people. By listening to what they have to say and giving them what they need. What do you get in return? A life with new meaning. So when I say that everyday you have the opportunity of meeting someone that can potentially change your life, I mean it. 

July 31, 2015 2:03 pm

Intern Journal: Leema John

Written by Leema John

"We won't have water for two days, starting tomorrow at nine o'clock AM."

My finger nearly became a part of the onion that I was cutting, as my knife dropped at the news that I had overheard.

"What? No running water for two whole days?" exclaimed another intern.

A thousand thoughts raced across the forefront of my mind. Since our apartment did not have a water tank for excess water storage, we would have absolutely no water to supply our needs.  How would I shower? How would I clean my growing pile of laundry? How would I live with twelve people, all limited to a single flush for each of the three toilets in the apartment? Because let's be real, we were all on Pepto Bismol.

Untitled1Precisely how I felt when I heard that I would not have access to running water.My qualms were quickly reassured with another claim of the night:  that there would be running water in the office, as the cut only affected the district that we lived in.  It was going to be alright-- I could have my toothbrush in tow to the office, and have pearly whites after a mysterious bathroom break.

The next morning, I filled up my water bottle with the last remaining bits of filtered water that my apartment would spit out for me for the next 36 hours. As I stepped into the office kitchen later that morning to stow away my lunch, my eyes feasted on an unusual array of colors. The floor was covered with multicolored buckets filled with water. I nervously glanced at the microwave clock. It was 8:04 AM.

I arrived to my desk listening to the fear that was settling into panic-- the district that our office was in, would be affected by the water cut as well. No running water here, either.  To be honest, I freaked out a little bit. How does one survive without running water? What do you do when your back up for running water needs to be backed up?

As the clock approached nine, so did my uneasiness. I had never tackled the issue of water cuts. The closest thing I could relate to was electricity cuts at my parents' childhood homes in India, which was a completely different game. At those routine 9 PM power cuts, I was never worried about being dehydrated or even unclean.

But I began to ponder about my work with MEDLIFE and the communities that we served.  A lot of the homes do not have running water, nonetheless access to it at all. I thought back to the community meeting that I had attended just that previous Friday with Señor Carlos and the rest of the Volunteer Affairs interns. On our trek down to the city center, he pointed out a portion of the area that was cloaked in darkness, as opposed to the gridded lights that illuminated the outskirts of Lima. He explained to us that this area was documented as an illegal settlement, as those who lived there did not have land titles to claim it as their own. Those settlers had moved to Lima nearly a year ago, and had to scavenge for water and pay spiked rates for electricity.

More often than not, the water that the people in pueblos jovenes ("shantytowns") receive are stored in old chemical waste containers because it's a cheaper alternative to the larger water tanks that are clean. This one tank of water is used for a family to cook, do laundry, bathe, and aid in personal hygiene. As the water tanks sit outside of homes with a flimsy tarp as a cover, they become prone to the bacteria that resides in the air. Burning garbage, human excrement, dog excrement, dirty diapers, and dirt all culminate into the air and rise to water-borne illnesses. I bore witness to this fact at a patient follow-up visit during hour 25 in my drought with water.

Untitled3A look at the water containers that are used to house water in los pueblos jovenes.I accompanied one of our field nurses, Janet, to a women's health clinic in Jesús María. Any patients that had irregular breast exams or pap smear results at the mobile clinic were brought to that clinic for their next round of care. I sat in the room, quietly listening to the initial consultation, trying to understand each patient's condition. After a few minutes of formalities and chatter, a young woman in her mid-twenties stepped into the room. We were told by the doctor that her irregular pap smear results were caused by a parasitic infection near the opening of her cervix, which had caused a large open wound and a source of great discomfort. The likely cause? Some form of water intake, most likely through washing of the body. Though her wound was cauterized and closed, it didn't solve the issue at hand-- access to clean and safe water.

As  I came upon hour thirty of my drought with water, I had already stopped at two bodegas, or convenience stores, to find no bottled water available for purchase. I also learned that the water cut had happened in all of the areas but the extremely wealthy ones. Though it was due to maintenance, we all joked that the Miraflores district paid the water company, Sedapal, from cutting the water in their district. Unfortunately, the role that money plays in accessing privilege is a reality for much of the world, Lima included.

I'm happy to announce that I survived the thirty-six hour run without running water. Looking back at it, I am a little embarrassed at my fears and anxieties about it. Putting your life in perspective to the conditions in the world is humbling, sparking a renewed sense of appreciation. The unknown is always intimidating and a bit scary, but can be morphed into a challenge for bettering yourself. My time in Lima has been incredibly challenging, but working through those hurdles has brought an immeasurable amount of growth and reward. My point: always remember to check your privilege, and keep the thirst for life alive!

Untitled2Overlooking the hills of Villa Maria del Triunfo, one of the many areas that are a part of los pueblos jovenes.

July 24, 2015 2:01 pm

Intern Journal: Maggie Reilly

Written by Maggie Reilly

Yesterday, I tried surfing for the second time here in Lima.  This time was marginally better than the first, thanks to some calmer waves.  For a coordinated person, surfing is a tricky skill to pick up.  For a slightly klutzy person, as many of my friends would classify me, surfing seems near impossible.  The first time I went, my friends and I took a much too quick lesson then struggled barefoot along the rocky beach to the water and into the surf.  The further I paddled out into the water, the stronger the waves got.  It wasn't long before I was bracing myself at the sight of the larger oncoming waves.  They would come, flip me off of my board, and send me tumbling in a whirlwind of  water.  During these more violent waves, I couldn't tell which way was up.  All my senses were assaulted by salt and water and noise and force.  The only thing to do was let the wave take you and wait for it to spit you out, all while hoping your board didn't hit you in the head and you had enough air in your lungs.

Out there in the ocean, struggling to get back on my board before the next wave came, I was struck by a feeling that I do not often have: a lack of control.  I couldn't stop these waves, I couldn't get a break from them, and I was completely at their mercy. It was a scary feeling.  Unfortunately, this lack of control is a feeling that many people experiencing poverty have constantly.

 388-maggy-intern-1

On a patient follow-up visit to a very marginalized area recently, I was confronted with this problem in an unforgettable way.  While waiting outside a small bodega with MEDLIFE staff for a follow-up patient, we encountered a woman who had come to wait for a phone call on the bodega's phone.  Upon closer inspection, this woman's body, especially her eyes, were tinted yellow.  Alarmed by this, the doctor asked if she needed medical care.  She said no, but explained what had led to her appearance.  Years ago, she had problems with her gallbladder, and had gone to the hospital to get it removed.  Shortly after, she began turning yellow.  When she went in for a scan, the medical professional had told her that she was missing a kidney.  The woman was shocked – she had never had problems with her kidneys before.  The MEDLIFE doctor told us that the surgeon for her gallbladder surgery had probably taken a kidney to sell.  I knew organ trafficking was a problem here, but it had never before presented itself to me in such an apparent way.  This woman must have felt so betrayed by the breach of her trust – an unfortunately not uncommon feeling towards medicine here.

Later, we heard more about the woman's story from a neighbor.  She had seven children.  The oldest was 20 years old, while the youngest was 1 year old.  The woman, with jaundice and missing a kidney and gallbladder, was probably not in the best health to be carrying children.  The nurse commented that she needed to be on birth control, or to tell her husband to stop getting her pregnant.  However, family planning is not often a process that most women here are involved in.  Some women try to hide birth control use, or but many simply do not use it and then find themselves with many children, often not by their own choice.  Finally, according to the neighbor, one of her daughters had stopped growing at age 6.  She was now 11, and unable to walk.  The doctor hypothesized that her daughter probably had polio. 

I was speechless after hearing this woman's story.  She had gone through organ trafficking, had many kids in an area that was extremely affected by poverty, and a daughter with polio – all of which could have been prevented.  How little control she must have felt over her situation, when wave after wave of negative circumstances hit her and her family.  These events in her life were effects of a larger, very complicated system.

388-maggy-intern-2

Working in the pueblos jovenes of Lima has illustrated to me the complexity of poverty.  It doesn't just come down to not having a job.  It's the political issues that lead people to mistrust their government, which has a history of violence and lack of support for its people, whether that's by not providing electricity or denying land rights.  It's the economic issues that force people to leave their farming lifestyles and move to a crowded shantytown.  It's the social issues, like sexism and violence in the home.  More than anything, it's a lack of control over one's situation. 

When I was surfing, I knew I could make the decision to get out of the water whenever I wanted.  Getting out was the only way to avoid the waves.  However people here and marginalized populations around the world can't simply leave their situations.  That's where MEDLIFE comes in.  We're working to help these people get out of their oceans of poverty, and onto more stable ground.  I'm sure the woman we met felt little control over her situation.  I want to change that and in working with MEDLIFE, I feel like I am – little by little and patient by patient.  My experiences here are formative and everlasting.  I know that I will leave this internship at the very least with a slightly better knowledge of surfing, but mainly with the desire to continue helping people affected by poverty leave their oceans of disadvantage and gain some control.

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>
Page 10 of 30