Rosali Vela

Rosali Vela

Website URL: http://www.medlifemovement.org

Secsencalla, a community located within the district of Andahualiyas in the province of Quispicanchis, is located one hour outside the city of Cusco. It is a rural community of approximately 100 families, most of whom dedicate themselves to cultivating and harvesting maize. Each family in Secsencalla has a different background, but the story of Victoria's family has been one of the most impactful. 

"There is a family living in extreme poverty," said Dula, the health coordinator in Secsencalla who helps us select the families that will benefit from our Healthy Homes program. "They do not have anyone else, and they really need you." Without hesitation, we went to visit the aforementioned house.

 1The space they used as a kitchen.

When we visited Victoria's house we were surprised by the conditions in which she lived. The walls of the improvised kitchen were almost completely black with soot, making it difficult to see inside. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark, we could see how the smoke that emanated from the unventilated wood burning stove made Eberth, Victoria's oldest son, cough while he was cooking. Next to the stove, a half dozen guinea pigs were kept in a feces-filled pen, shrieking desperately at the lack of air.

3The room shared by Victoria and her children.

The main bedroom was located in another building, where Victoria and her three children shared a single sleeping space. A soaking wet plastic tarp hung loosely from the ceiling, placed there by Victoria in a futile attempt to keep Cusco's seasonal rains from seeping into the house. The damp adobe walls seemed ready to give way at any moment and the roof, already leaking profusely, appeared to be on the verge of collapse. It was evident that we had to do something.

Victoria has been a widow for the past two years. During this time she has cared for her daughter and the two older children of her deceased husband, whom she cares for as her own. To provide for her family she works a variety of odd jobs, from laboring in the fields to washing clothes and loading construction material. Victoria is a woman of surprising strength who, despite being placed in a difficult situation replete with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, works to overcome them in order to give her children a decent life. 

4The space that was used as a warehouse and that we rebuilt to be a new, more adequate and healthy kitchen.

The damp adobe walls seemed ready to give way at any moment and the roof, already leaking profusely, appeared to be on the verge of collapse. It was evident that we had to do something. Normally, the Healthy Homes program involves the construction of a new fuel-efficient stove, the improvement and relocation of bedrooms, and the construction of shelves that help with home organization (you can read more about the Healthy Homes program in this blog.) In the case of Victoria, we also rebuilt the roof in its entirety, as well as relocated the kitchen to a new, properly ventilated space. Thanks to the work of our volunteers from UPR - Rio Piedras, UPR - Cayey, and the University of Florida, we also managed to paint Victoria's new kitchen and bedroom in order to give her newly renovated home an orderly and safe look. 

Look at the photos of our volunteers working below:

5Victoria's new kitchen! It has a window that allows better ventilation and the improved stove does not let smoke escape into the kitchen, so her children will not have health problems.

6This room was completely renovated. The roof was entirely rebuilt utilizing traditional building techniques to protect against frequent seasonal rains.

7We also built shelves to help with kitchen organization. These shelves are very efficient and inexpensive to build.The idea is that families like Victoria's can build them themselves. Each box has the value of S/.1 (around $ 0.30 cents) and they look great!

8Our volunteers all took a final photo with Victoria and her younger daughter, Flor, who helped us throughout the workday and even shared a bit of corn from their harvest! Thank you, Victoria, for welcoming us into your home!

January 16, 2018 3:05 pm

MEET THE PATIENT: GERALDINE FLORES

It was Geraldine's aunt who first reached out to MEDLIFE. Her niece was still struggling with a rectal prolapse she had endured from the young age of three months old. Upon discovering Geraldine was now hospitalized from the worsening condition, she began to seek help

Geraldine was living with her mother in Piura at the time, approximately 717 miles away from Peru's capital of Lima. Meanwhile her aunt was desperately searching for a way to bring her sister and niece to Lima, where doctors specializing in gastroenterology would be able to provide quality treatment. The aunt found Carlos Benavides, MEDLIFE's director of MED Programs in Lima, and urgently arrived to his doorstep. She explained what brought her to his home and Carlos reassured her that he would do everything he could to help improve Geraldine's circumstances.

Carlos and the MED Programs team got Geraldine a tomography to verify she needed treatment in Lima and assisted with her transfer from Piura. At two years old, Geraldine is currently too young to undergo the surgery and instead, has been completing an alternative treatment for the past three months, which could potentially take up to three years. MEDLIFE is currently assisting Geraldine and her family with the medicine; thankfully she is showing great signs of improvement.

Thanks to our MED Programs team and the continued support from Chapters and donors across the world, MEDLIFE is able to assist those that would otherwise lack access to vital services in health care, education and development.

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IMG 6126Geraldine with her mother.

As part of our post-clinic activities, our staff last week went to visit four patients in Lima who we met during our mobile clinics. Luckily, these patients are already being treated in the Peruvian health system SIS. Although they did not require economic support from MEDLIFE, they did however, require tools to be able to access their treatment and therefore access a better quality of life.

Another one of our visits was to a PRONOEI (public kindergarten) located in Villa Maria del Triunfo. Said kindergarten informed us that they needed a new roof since the one they currently have was very dangerous for the children.

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At MEDLIFE, we focus on providing comprehensive services and healthcare to the communities we partner with. In this, chapter fundraising supports our capacity to provide essential services to community members in need. This year's goal is for each chapter to fundraise $2000 per academic year. These funds will go towards our first MED Center which will be located in Union Santa Fe, Pamplona, Lima, Peru.

Caroline is a six year old girl from Kilema-Moshi. We met Caroline in May 2017, while a MEDLIFE mobile clinic at her community.

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Five months ago Peru was hit with historic rains, resulting in flash floods and mudslides known as "huaicos". The destruction of essential infrastructure such as bridges and homes severely damaged the communities we partner with. Support and donations from our global network of MEDLIFE Chapters and volunteers allowed us to begin immediate aid in the form of water, clothing and medical care when the disaster hit. During initial efforts to provide relief, MEDLIFE met a concerned mother from a local school, Colegio Inmaculada in Naña, who informed us that the school was lacking a hygienic kitchen and cafeteria, known here as a comedor, to provide food to students.

On July 20th and 21st, MEDLIFE hosted its first mobile clinic at the Santa Monica Women's Penitentiary in Lima, Peru. We returned last week to host both an educational workshop and to provide follow up care to the patients.

MEDLIFE delivered pap smear results and provided treatment and medication, including ultrasounds where necessary, to the 120 women that we saw in July.

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Five months ago, Peru was hit with historic rains, flash floods and mudslides, known here as huaycos. During our initial efforts to provide relief, MEDLIFE met a mother from a local school, Colegio Inmaculada in Naña. She informed MEDLIFE that the school was lacking a proper sanitary area for the children to eat, also known as a comedor. Without this comedor, the school is at risk of losing access to the government program Qali Warma (Healthy Child in Quechua), which provides free meals to students in low-income communities.
MEDLIFE is in the early stages of building a new comedor with the community. This project will ensure the continuation of the Qali Warma program, providing 160 students with nutritious food at school.

Last Friday the MEDLIFE summer interns joined the community members of Union de Santa Fe to inaugurate the completion of a new staircase. Not only will this provide safe and secure access to several homes but is the main point of access to the newly constructed second floor of the Wawa Wasi.

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