Rosali Vela

Rosali Vela

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August 8, 2017 11:26 am

Meet the Patient: Maria Borja

mariaborjanono2We first met Maria Borja Nono, age 55, about a year ago when she attended a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in the community of Shobol Pamba, Parroquia San Juan, del Cantón Riobamba in Ecuador. She was examined by our gynecologist and found to have a cystocele, a medical condition that occurs when the wall between a woman's bladder and her vagina is torn. This rupture most likely occured during the delivery of one of Maria's 13 children.

Although Ecuadorian laws call for free and universal access to healthcare, the country continues to experience high levels of maternal death and complications from childbirth. Many women from indigenous communities give birth in their houses, due either to the lack of transportation to surrounding hospitals or to the notion that hospitals provide culturally insensitive care.

According to CARE USA, indigenous women are accustomed to being surround by friends and family during childbirth and to giving birth in a vertical position --  customs that are not always allowed in country hospitals. As a result, women do not always know how to identify signs of maternal risk, nor how to seek out help for complications that occur from childbirth.“In all seriousness, I've been in need of having an operation for this problem for over 20 years now,” Maria tells us during our interview with her at her home in Riobamba. “I just could never afford it, especially having so many children to take care of.”mariaborjanono1A typical day for Maria consists of walking a distance of about three miles to and from work where she is a day laborer in a lime mine, coming home to take care of household chores and care for her elderly mother, staying up late to cook the family's meals for the following day, and getting a maximum of four to five hours of sleep per night.

Her husband also works in the mines and has a similarly stressful daily schedule.Once diagnosed at the Mobile Clinic, it was clear that Maria was going to need surgery, and financial assistance to cover the medical costs. Always punctual and cooperative, Maria had eight medical clinic appointments consisting of check-ups and further examinations. She was accompanied to each appointment by MEDLIFE follow-up coordinator, Maria Chavez.

“I met up with Miss Chavez and she helped me through the good and the bad,” Maria told us through tears during our interview. “She helped me. I give thanks to God for her help. Even when my own children couldn't be around because they were working far away, she was there up until the final days. Thank God that even today she is helping me, economically and emotionally.”Prior to her surgery, Maria's tests revealed several complications including vaginitis and possible bladder fistula (an abnormal connection between the bladder and the vagina) for which a cystography was performed. Currently, our patient is relieved of most of the pain and discomfort she had been experiencing and is regularly returning for medical examinations for further alteration of bladder muscles.

August 8, 2017 11:24 am

Meet the Patient: Luis Soria


Luis Soria is a patient who came to us last spring during a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in the community of Cecel San Antonio del Cantón Licto of Riobamba, Ecuador. During his consultation, one of our doctors diagnosed Luis with inguinal hernias. An inguinal hernia occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in your groin muscle. This causes a bulge in the groin or scrotum which may hurt or burn.

Doctors informed Luis that he was in need of an immediate surgery right on the spot. MEDLIFE staff proceeded to take him to the nearest hospital to get further medical examination and care. Doctors and the medical clinic confirmed that his condition was critical and he was prepped for surgery within a few hours.Luis admitted to us that he had felt discomfort for many years, especially while working long hours as a taxi driver and wore a back brace at all times. “I'm 47 years old and I've been suffering from this condition for over 10 years. I feel like a new man now thanks to the help this organization has provided me,” he shared.After several lab tests, including uro-analysis, hematology, serology, blood, ECG and echo cardiogram tests, doctors concluded that Luis had two hernias and decided to split the surgery into two procedures -- one on each side. The surgeries went well and Luis was told to spend 60 days recovering at home. Although it was difficult for him to wait that long to work again, he followed the doctor's orders and today he can enjoy life without the pain he had suffered from for so long.“Now I can work productively on my field and help out with family chores. I couldn't even walk around and enjoy my time with my family of three children and my beautiful wife. Now I have that opportunity and I am forever grateful for that,” he said with a smile.

August 8, 2017 11:20 am

Patient Story: Wheelchair for Jose


José Permillot Salgado was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type II over 30 years ago, but his story with MEDLIFE began on October 6, 2011. This was the day our patient follow-up coordinator and nurse, Ruth Varona, paid Permillot a visit in his residence after receiving an email about his deteroriating condition. We were informed about his needs through a friend of our international liason, Angie Vidal, who had been close to his family for some time.

Originally from Lima, José is a bit of a prankster and enjoys playfully teasing those around him and cracking jokes in criollo fashion -- frequently using typical slang from the southwestern coast of Perú. At nearly 67 years of age, he says that his only reason for living and staying somewhat healthy is to stick around for his grandchildren, Karissa, José Jesús and José Antonio, ages 10, 8, and 6 respectively.After having accompanied José to several clinic check-ups and covering all of his medical expenses and procedures, including the necessary amputation of his right leg, MEDLIFE delivered a brand-new wheelchair to his residence on November 5th, 2011 and sat down to speak with him about his story.During our chat, he admitted to never having taken any precautions after being diagnosed to prevent damaging his internal organs any further. He added, "I consider myself an idiot for not having done anything when I could have... and now I might lose my second leg as well." José, who formely sold breakfast entreés and prepared coffee and other beverages as a street vendor, always enjoyed playing soccer on the weekends in healthier times. Today, he lives with his wife, Ruth, and his two eldest grandchildren in the district of Lima in Perú. He hopes to be able to continue to watch them grow for as long as possible and greatly appreciates MEDLIFE's help along the way.



Our Staircase Construction Projects were inspired by the story of a MEDLIFE patient, Chais Pipa. Chais fell down the steep hillside that leads to her home, prompting a premature birth and health complications for her newborn child.

After speaking to Chais and other community members, we learned that several health problems were related to falls and the inability to navigate the steep terrain of Pamplona Alta.

As a result, MEDLIFE began building staircases in these regions and has continued to do so ever since.


Read more stories here!

August 8, 2017 10:06 am

MEDLIFE Hygiene Project Stories


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. 

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.


You can read more stories at here!

September 3, 2012 11:23 am

MEDLIFE School Project: Cumanda


From July 19 - July 27, 2017, volunteers from high schools in the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico attended a specialized service-learning trip in Lima, Peru, where they worked all week on mobile clinics and community development projects. MEDLIFE interns and staff also held discussions with  volunteers covering topics in global medicine, development and education. Through this opportunity, the students were able to learn more about MEDLIFE's mission as well as visit follow-up patients like Rosa Morocho, who needs a new home for her and her daughter. 
Volunteers also attended a night meeting with more than 300 members of 15 different communities. The focus of the meeting was a brand-new development initiative that will benefit more than 1,000 people. Representatives from the municipalities of Villa Maria del Triunfo and San Juan de Miraflores were present to sign a collaboration agreement between MEDLIFE, the government, and the communities. 
Finally, thanks to the support of the high school volunteers, 60 people, including adults and children received much needed attention in the general medicine and dental care stations of the mobile clinics. Additionally, 125 children learned how to properly brush their teeth!
To all of our high school volunteers: thank you for support and hard work! Check out some photos from the trip below!


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This blog is part of a series showcasing chapters that won awards in this year's 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.
The Ohio State University MEDLIFE chapter is committed to service and building relationships with other groups on campus and in the surrounding community. They hold monthly meetings which are not only educational but are hands-on and practical. They invite guests to speak to members about topics like suicide prevention or the heroin epidemic in Ohio, and have held countless educational seminars including CPR training, yoga classes, and pillow making workshops. These seminars allow their members to develop professionally and use these new skills to give back!
We recently reached out to MEDLIFE-OSU Chapter President, Elizabeth Adams, to learn about her chapter's success. 
16179228 1306203619439162 3978770277363816195 oIn January 2017, MEDLIFE OSU sent over 30 students on a Service Learning trip to Cusco, Peru.
How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?
I joined MEDLIFE the first week of my freshman year when I accidentally stumbled upon the MEDLIFE booth at our involvement fair! Joining our university's chapter was the best decision of my college career. After the first meeting, where I learned about MEDLIFE's mission and the ways we were able to help lower income families both locally and abroad, I was absolutely hooked. What really made me dedicate myself to MEDLIFE was their commitment to serving communities longterm by providing year-round followup care, education on preventative medicine, and sustainable development projects that allow a community to thrive from within, rather than rely on constant outside assistance. 
What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?
I think that our Chapter has been able to gain the support of and to inspire students to work with MEDLIFE by sharing our individual stories. Whether it is at an involvement fair, through our chapter's social media, or even just in casual conversation before lecture, the first thing I, executive board, and general body members mention about MEDLIFE is their own, personal experience and why it means so much to them. I think our chapter has had great success in this because we also provide opportunities for members to get involved with local outreach to the Columbus community. Whether it's for a local food drive, a fundraiser that consists of petting puppies, learning about health disparities in the LGBTQ community of Columbus, or volunteering at an elementary school, we give our members something to talk about, even if it is done locally! Of course, mentioning that you got to climb Machu Picchu while assisting in serving thousands of patients abroad through triaging them, teaching children how to brush their teeth, and filling their prescriptions is also pretty cool 
14 12 2 The Ohio State chapter keeps meetings engaging! Here, they are making pillows and cards for Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus.
In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?
I believe our chapter's greatest achievement is having the ability for our members to feel involved in whatever way they are able to and would like to. Many students feel financial constraints on being able to attend brigades, especially regularly, leaving bulks of time with a potentially foggy idea on what to do with MEDLIFE. Our chapter provides members with local opportunities for fundraising, volunteering, and learning. Additionally, we try our best to vary the times of day and day of the week when activities occur, in case of scheduling conflicts for a particular time/day. Further, sometimes schedules simply do not have room for a longterm involvement with the chapter and we understand that! It is totally ay-okay to simply go on a brigade through our chapter, and we work to ensure such members get the needed info for them to have a wonderful time on brigade! It's really all about making MEDLIFE whatever you want it to be, and our chapter works to spread this message! 
What did you do to get people engaged?
We do our best to switch up meeting topics/ideas/styles to keep everything fresh! For example, we may have a meeting based on educating ourselves about a particular health disparity in our community led by a guest speaker. Then the following meeting may be a little more hands-on, such as making stress balls for children in a local orphanage. We also keep communication open between executive board and our general body members through surveys! This ensures that we are providing the content and the opportunities that our members are looking for MEDLIFE to provide them.
14 12 3Members at a Kaplan Suture Clinic.
What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?
My most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE has to be my trip to Lima, Peru in January of 2016. One particular  memory is from our last day working in the community, during the reveal of our completed staircase development project. I had been playing with a little girl, about 6 years old, then it was time to go. As we packed up, I noticed that the girl's father was kneeling down so she could speak into his ear. He listened intently, as if he was trying to learn. He and his daughter went back and forth a couple of times, repeating the same thing back and forth. He then approached me, extended his hand, smiled, and said, "Thank you." The language of love knows no barriers. 
What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?
One of our chapter's goals is to independently raise the funds for a development project! We also plan to continue to expand our local volunteer opportunities focusing on medicine, education, and development. 
Do you have any advice for other chapters?
Always remember why you joined MEDLIFE. Remember the fire that started within you to inspire you to be involved with leadership within your chapter, and always work towards spreading that feeling to others. Specifically, keep communication open within the chapter and remember it starts with you! Always ask questions, collaborate with other chapters, and reach out to national! 
Remember,"Individually we are one drop, but together we are an ocean."-Ryunosuke Satoro
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This blog is part of a series showcasing chapters that won awards in this year's 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.
This year, the University of Pennsylvania was awarded the MEDLIFE Social Media Award. MEDLIFE UPenn uses their social media as a tool to effectively communicate with their members to educate and spread awareness. They have held initiatives such as "Public Health Week" in which they created a short video series explaining various public health issues. They have their own website, blog, and even a youtube channel!
We caught up with the president of the University of Pennsylvania chapter, Santosh Nori, to hear more about their recent success as a chapter. 
14 12 6400Members of the University of Pennsylvania Chapter of MEDLIFE
How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?
I started to work with MEDLIFE during my freshman year of college. Coming into college, I knew that I was interested in global health, and really wanted to get involved with some service oriented activities related to this subject. I joined MEDLIFE, and a couple of other global health clubs, just to get a feel for which one was the best fit. In the end, I chose MEDLIFE because of all of the service opportunities our chapter provided that allowed us to actually make a difference both within Philadelphia and internationally and because of the awesome people that made up the chapter!
What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?
As the recently elected president of MEDLIFE Penn, one my main goals was to foster a sense of community within MEDLIFE on campus. My exec board and I strongly believed that this was one of the most important things to address, insofar as a sense of community lends itself to more engaged members and a more enjoyable and meaningful experience for students within MEDLIFE. We have implemented a “family group” system, where students across different committees  are essentially grouped into different “families” that are able to bond outside MEDLIFE. As such, there is more connection between students in different committees. This has also drawn in a number of general members, increasing our recruitment interest for next semester.
In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?
In my opinion, our chapter’s greatest achievement this year was our Community Engagement committee’s recent initiative on inner city education. Our community engagement committee has put together a global health curriculum to present to students in inner city schools, particularly in underprivileged areas of Philadelphia, to inform students more about facets of public health and to inspire them to explore studies and careers in these facets. They have just successfully piloted the initiative this semester, and plan to open up the project to all MEDLIFE members and more schools next semester.
What did you do to get people engaged?
One thing that my exec board and I felt was crucial for member engagement was connecting members to the different health issues that they were working on in MEDLIFE. In other words, we felt that students really did not know a lot about the health issues that they were tackling within the Philadelphia community and that MEDLIFE as a whole was tackling internationally. As such, we wanted to educate our members, as well as Penn’s campus, about these efforts and issues through a number of lectures by reputed public health experts on campus, MEDLIFE staff who Skyped in from Lima, and even other students.
14 12 1993Members of MEDLIFE UPenn attending the "Mindless Medicine" Lecture event
What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?
My most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE was volunteering at a homeless shelter in Philadelphia as a freshman, where other members and I were able to cook a meal for the poor that were at the shelter. It was a very fulfilling experience, and I was able to meet new members and really bond with them over the experience.
What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?
With regard to the short term future, I am looking to improve the general member experience at our chapter through more engaging campus events. In the long term, I would really like to have our chapter of MEDLIFE start a global health and international development oriented journal. A number of health organizations have done this on campus, however, such a journal doesn’t exist for students interested in global health, international development, and service. A thirst for knowledge and information in these areas on campus, both on an academic and pre-professional level, provides a niche for a journal focusing on these areas. Putting out a journal can help raise awareness for MEDLIFE, our chapter’s efforts, and our cause. 
Do you have any advice for other chapters?
One of my biggest pieces of advice based on my experiences thus far is that MEDLIFE should be approached from a perspective of what makes your members gain the most out of their experiences with the chapter. If students really enjoy being a part of the chapter and are interested in the work that the chapter does, they will remain committed to the chapter and really give their best, leading to better service and awareness.
14 12 0719Volunteer from MEDLIFE at the University of Pennsylvania

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.

The Miami University MEDLIFE chapter has had a very successful year! They have taken great initiative to promote our service learning trips in Moshi this past Winter. They went above and beyond by sending over 40 students to participate in a service learning trip in Tanzania. As a result, we were able to finish one of our main projects, the construction of one of our patient’s house, Bibi, as well as provide medical attention to multiple areas of Moshi. 
Keep reading to find out what MEDLIFE MU Chapter President, Ellie Sidler, had to say about her chapter's recent success! 

unnamedMiami University chapter members at the Color Run 5k.

How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?

I started to work with MEDLIFE my freshman year of college. At Miami University we have a “Megafair” where all the student organizations are able to come together and advertise their club. I was immediately intrigued by the medical brigades, local volunteer opportunities, as well as their informative and fun meetings. MEDLIFE had the best of both worlds - service abroad and locally - which perfectly aligned with my goals.

What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?

We hoped to create a stronger community within our members. Creating strong friendships through MEDLIFE is such an amazing experience and we are trying to make sure that everyone is able to experience those relationships. Those friendships solidify student’s commitments to MEDLIFE. We have hosted multiple study rooms and hope to organize a trip to a nearby forest preserve in the fall for a bonfire and a yoga event to give the members a chance to get to know someone they might now. Additionally, we use a point system where student have to get 3 fundraising points, 2 volunteering points, and attend 5/7 meetings in order to be in good standing.

In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?

I’ve loved our 5K and our Hair Drive Event. I think the beautiful thing about MEDLIFE is that we are committed to helping Low Income Families Everywhere. Our 5k raised $3,000 for the Oxford Free Clinic, which serves the local population, and $2,000 for MEDLIFE missions. Our Hair Drive was a new event this semester where we encouraged our members and those in our community to donate 8 inches of their hair to Children With Hair Loss. We receive 40 donations and the event had such a positive and encouraging environment.

What did you do to get people engaged?

We try to keep our members engaged through fun and diverse meetings. We have suture clinics, blood pressure cuffs to practice with, we watch applicable documentaries, and Skype in doctors. This semester we had some challenges this semester with smooth transitions to new positions, but hope that next semester we will able to re-engage old members and engage new members with better meetings.

What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?

Going on a mobile brigade my freshman year was such a positive and wonderful learning experience. It’s driven me to be more committed to MEDLIFE as well as my school work. However, more recently, creating a new event at Miami (the hair drive) was a wonderful learning experience. Seeing my vision for the event come to fruition, and exceed my expectations, was beyond rewarding.

unnamed 1The Color Run 5k proved to be a valuable fundraiser.

What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?

We hope to continue to grow this chapter and build on our member’s engagement. We have weekly volunteer events to Cincinnati and Hamilton, Ohio and both of those events provide valuable experience that we hope our members will take advantage of. Additionally, this year we will be changing out 5k theme to a “zombie run” and hope to reach out to more organizations and our community to increase their participation.

Do you have any advice for other chapters?

Lean on your fellow exec members, and support them in their endeavors. A committed and cohesive exec board can make huge leaps and bounds.

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