Rosali Vela

Rosali Vela

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

Dr. Gustavo Arnao García found his motivation to study medicine in his father, rheumatologist and former president of the Peruvian Society of Rheumatology. This example lead Dr. Gustavo to pursue his career of medicine at the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos, the oldest university of the Americas.
 
The MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics working model is similar to what Dr. Gustavo does at the Peruvian Red Cross, a society he's been part of since 2011 and which allowed him to become an expert at attenting patients. MEDLIFE relies on local health care practitioners, like Dr. Arnao García, to engage best with the communities we work in and give volunteers a valuable learning experience.
 IMG 3671Dr. Arnao García is one of several doctors who works regularly with MEDLIFE in Lima.
How long have you been working for MEDLIFE?
For almost three years. A professional colleague that used to work for the Peruvian Red Cross asked me if I was interested in working for MEDLIFE. I met the people from the NGO, did some tests, and I’ve been working for MEDLIFE since then.  
 
What experience impacted you the most when working in Mobile Clinics? Any particular case or patient? 
I had the opportunity of seeing a case of decompensated diabetes with a patient that had a very deep ulcer in his lower leg. Luckily, with the right treatment and our patient follow up system, the patient got better. This experience was very impactul for me. 
 
What do you enjoy the most in the Mobile Clinics? 
 MEDLIFE's work is completely assistance-based and requires a lot of work in the field. Basically you go to places where there's extreme poverty and help the people that live there. I feel very grateful to help MEDLIFE in their mission.

 IMG 3624Dr. Arnao García is able to connect and communicate well with patients, as well as the volunteers that assist him. On mobile clinics, he can often be seen seen giving volunteers a hands on lesson in identifying symptoms common to patients around Lima.

 
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 20, 2017 3:02 pm

Huayco relief aid underway

Last week, MEDLIFE staff visited Cajamarquilla in Lima, Peru to deliver water and supplies to a community affected by the huaycos. We were able to secure a water tank truck to deliver much needed water to the community of 27 de Junio.

IMG 816527 de Junio relies on water tanks filled by trucks, that have been seeing infrequent visits since the huaycos.

Tempora Ventura Donato, who lives in 27 de Junio, said they had not been able to refill their water supply for 4 days. Her experience is common for those living in makeshift camp set up for the people displaced by the huaycos. Thousands are still displaced by the huaycos.

IMG 8254Water trucks can be sporadic in the area. Residents gather all available containers because it is often not known when a truck will visit.

Some fled their homes do to flood damage, but many had their entire homes swept away by the overflowing Huaycoloro River. The displaced have been living in tents provided by the municipal government of Lima.

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Water tank trucks are private businesses that sell potable water straight from their tank to homes not connected to the water system of Lima. We were able to cover the cost of the delivery for this visit, taking the truck back into the camp to refill plastic water tanks and residents buckets and barrels.

IMG 8362Supplies vary on how much people were able to save or salvage from the flood. Some have close to full kitchens run on gas tanks in tents while others lost nearly everything.

We also delivered, toothbrushes, basic first aid kits and clothes collected from a donation drive in Lima. There is no steady supply of aid in many of the communities we have visited affected by huaycos, relying on a sporadic mix of government aid as well as other NGOs.


MEDLIFE is funding the huayco relief efforts through our project fund. This is an emergency fund to help aid the communities we serve in a time of dire need. Please consider donating today as 100% of the funds for this project will be put to direct aid to communities around Lima.

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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.

In April of 2017 MEDLIFE completed one of our long-term projects, building a house for Soledad and her son. MEDLIFE met Soledad in 2014 (full story here), and upon see her living conditions, we knew we needed to get her a new home. The home she was in was unsafe, and appeared to be on the verge of collapse. The fundraising process and construction process was long, but we succeeded. A group of students from Cornell University, who helped fundraise for the house, got to be there to help put on the finishing touches, see the finished project and meet Soledad themselves.

blog soledadThe back of the old, structurally insecure house. 

blog soledad3Soledad and her son, inside their old home in 2014.

IMG 7947The completed house.

Volunteers helped us add the finishing touches on their volunteer trip!

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 IMG 8041Soledad, on the day her new home was completed.

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 IMG 8107Thank you to this group of volunteers for your help fundraising and finishing the house!

 2017 04 13Thank you to our year long interns for all of your help on this project!

MEDLIFE Future Project: A New Home for Soledad from MEDLIFE on Vimeo.

April 5, 2017 1:47 pm

A Slide for the Kiura School

DSC 0097 2The old slide.

     When Grant Schmidt visited this school in Kiura on a MEDLIFE volunteer trip with Miami University, he knew they could do more than just help complete the bathroom project they worked on during the week long trip. After seeing a child climb to the top of this slid and then decide not to slide down, as the wood was old, rotting, and splintery, he decided he would organize his group to fundraise for the slide. We interviewed Grant about his experience with MEDLIFE and how they fundraised for the slide.

IMG 8735 2The volunteer group that helped fundraise after their MEDLIFE volunteer trip.

How did the group react to the idea of buying a slide for the school in Kiura:

 It was such a blessing to have gone to Tanzania with such a wonderful group of individuals. After the dinner on our third night of volunteering in the clinic, I stood and asked our group if anyone would be willing to donate to the cause of raising enough funds to buy the children a new plastic slide, which Neema worked out would be around $400. As soon as I had finished asking the question I was met with an overwhelming amount of positive support and encouragement for the idea. Every single member wanted to donate regardless of the amount, and they did; we raised over $200 within the first hour after dinner.

How is this slide project different than the project you fundraised before coming to Tanzania?

I wasn't a direct part of the fundraising project that MEDLIFE conducted before coming to Tanzania, but I think I can compare the two. The previous fundraised was calculated, planned, and carried out. However this was a spur of the moment project. It was the members of our group realizing that they had the opportunity to help just a little bit more, to brighten the lives of a few more people, and then doing everything in their power to make sure that happened. 

Why did you think it was important for the children to have a slide?

We all came to Tanzania thinking about the medical illnesses we could help treat or provide medication for to help improve the lives of some people there. We wanted to help give them some of the opportunities we experience on a regular basis. But after seeing the slide we realized something almost all of us take for granted growing up isn't available here. We wanted to help give the children the same experiences, and joy we had growing up, as happiness is an integral part of health. 

While volunteering in Kirua we couldn't help but notice the old wooden slide that sat on the grounds. We would see children climb to the top of the slide and then just sit there for a while before climbing back down, not wanting to slide down the two old splintery wooden planks to the bottom. We all thought "something like this would never be allowed to exist on a playground in America".

20170328 114333 2Kids using the new slide in Kiura.

How do you hope this slide impacts this school in Kirua?

 We hope the slide will give the kids another way to play and have fun, and that their happiness will translate into a better schooling experience. 

How can quick, group fundraising efforts like this have an impact?

 Quick fundraising efforts like this show that mission trips itineraries don't have to be set in stone, they can change based on the needs of the people you find. We hope that this slide may set a precedent to other groups that, if they find an extra need, they can fix it, whether it be the need of a new clean water system or even just another slide. 

Historic flooding and mudslides have hit Peru bringing the worst destruction from floods in two decades. An estimated 70,000 people have been displaced from their homes along with an estimated 72 dead due to the natural disaster.

Referred to locally by the Quechua name of huaicos, these natural disasters are a results of heavy rain brought on by the El Niño season in the Pacific ocean. The rains cause the rivers to overflow bringing floods to the normally dry desert coast of Peru.

IMG 0952Armando Calderon points to where his house was before the huaicos.

The flooding has overwhelmed local water treatment plants and Lima, Peru’s capital city, has been without water for almost a week. The Peruvian government has issued a state of emergency around most of the country as floods and debris flow into the streets.

The rains are predicted to continue into April, bringing more flooding to the already affected areas. Areas with vulnerable access to water have been completely cut off from their normal supply. The aguatero trucks that normally suppply many of our communities with water have stopped visiting, and many supermarkets have completely run out of water. Tap water was not working in large parts of the city for up to a week, and receiving intermitent water in other parts. 

IMG 0971A railroad is decimated by flash floods from huaicos in Chaclacayo.

Critical infrastructure has been damaged, the bridge that connects El Augostino y San Juan de Lurigancho collapsed due to the overflow of the huaicoloro river, makes access to the district very difficult. Many other roads and railroad tracks have been completely washed away.

This week, MEDLIFE went to survey the communities we work with around Lima that have experienced flooding, to make a plan for immediate relief aid and possibly plan a development project for the future. We visited Chaclacayo, a district hit badly by the force of the huaicos 

Screen Shot 2017 03 21 at 5.35.12 PMThe Chaclacayo District is one of many regions in Peru affected by the huaicos.

IMG 1010The village of Brisas de California, in the hills of Chaclacayo, experienced flooding and mudslides taking out bridges throughout the village. 

In Chaclacayo, people are lacking basic necessities like food, shelter, medicine and water. People in the valley experienced flash floods after surges of water hit the Rîmac River. The floods swept away homes, railroads and roads in it’s path.

 

IMG 0920Victims of the huaicos have been using tents as temporary shelter.

 

Those displaced by the huaicos have been seeking shelter in encampments of tents provided by the municipality of Lima. Guadelope, a resident of Chaclacayo, has been sleeping in a tent with her daughter since their home was flooded. When asked what she needed most, she responded with food.

With forecasts of more rain, the situation is expected to worsen bring more huaicos to the already vulnerable communities.

We have started a fundraising campaign to go directly to communities affected by the flooding. You can donate HERE. During times of natural disaster, direct donations can have the most impact because the money is going directly towards supplies for victims to start rebuilding their lives like food, water and medicine.

 IMG 1037In Brisas de California, huaicos overwhelmed the waterway, eroding the banks and taking out bridges.

Sources: 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-floods-idUSKBN16O2V5

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-39318034

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/death-toll-rises-72-peru-rains-flooding-mudslides-46225609

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/03/peru-suffers-worst-flooding-in-decades/520146/

http://gestion.pe/economia/huaico-huaycoloro-ocasiono-caida-puente-talavera-san-juan-lurigancho-2184846

 

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     Dr. Genry Aguilar has been working as a doctor on mobile clinics with MEDLIFE for two years now. He practices medicine where he grew up, in the Andean city of Cusco, Peru.

     Dr. Aguilar brings an infectious energy when he works mobile clinics. When talking with a patient, all parties are engaged, including volunteers. The conversations are in Spanish, apart from small asides in English to volunteers, yet volunteers are absorbed into Dr. Aguilar’s expressiveness and physicality when talking with patients.

     When listening to a heartbeat, he will get volunteers on the stethoscope as well and have them listen for the murmurs and irregularities. Dr. Aguilar has found a way of caring for patients needs, while also teaching volunteers about the signs he’s looking for.

Dr Aguilar decided to work in Lima this week instead of his usual base of Cusco to see other sides of Peru.

We spoke with Genry Aguilar after a clinic about his experience working with MEDLIFE: 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Genry, I am a doctor. This is my second time working with MEDLIFE. It is my first time working in a different place like Lima, I used to work in Cusco. For me, working in MEDLIFE has been a good experience, I have learned a lot. I have met a lot of people from different countries.  

Why did you start working with MEDLIFE?

First, I have always the intention of helping those in need in any way possible. Medicine is a helping career. It is a career where we are here to resolve pain.

What value do the volunteers have in clinics?

They are very important, without them, these clinics wouldn’t be anything. They are youth with a great desire to help. It is indescribable, working with them, I have encountered a joy to help, to serve. To bear witness to the pain that often patients must endure alone, to make a child, or a person who is suffering smile. Health is the most important thing in life, along with education.

How does MEDLIFE work with the local system?

MEDLIFE works at the level of the ministry of health, the professionals are certified in this system at the same level as any Doctor that works in the Peruvian healthcare system.

What value do Mobile Clinics have for the communities?

This value, it’s not just an immediate value. The youth, who have come before, have left a big mark. When they see volunteers, the expect the best for them, from each one of them. Somone shows up, and the kids surround them. For sure, this is because of the impact of the positive impact of those who have come before. For you, it is a question of improving upon it. Make it better, so that this persists. 

 

February 28, 2017 3:30 pm

First week of spring clinics in Lima

Last week was the start of MEDLIFE's spring clinic season with 41 volunteers from Queen's and Laurentian Universities of Ontario, Canada. Over the course of 4 days of clinics, the volunteers were able to serve 368 patients around Lima. 

IMG 0995Volunteers visited 4 different communities around Lima.

IMG 0997All 368 patients were able to consult with a doctor. In total, 172 of the patients were children.

IMG 0162290 of the patients recieved medicine after meeting with a doctor.

IMG 0347Gynecologists were able to preform 52 pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.

IMG 0040Dentists and volunteers were able to serve 113 patients throughout the week.

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Volunteers worked with children while parents visited the clinic. They taught handwashing and toothbrushing techniques and handed out 253 toothbrushes.

We thank all volunteers who came out to Lima for a week of learning and serving!

February 23, 2017 3:55 pm

Bringing Doctors to the Patients

When running mobile clinics, MEDLIFE aims to provide people from low income communities with primary health care. Cost is a problem in access to health care, but just as important an issue is actually getting into the hospital.

It’s estimated there is 1 doctor for every 20,000 people living on the outskirts of Lima. The time that patients spend with a doctor is a rare moment to talk with a health professional. To give the best possible care to patients MEDLIFE uses doctors and dentists from Lima to staff mobile clinics.

Analida Palacios works as a physician at Clinica Oncologia y Radioterapia, located in the San Borja district of Lima. Her usual place of work is located in a wealthier district of Lima, where patients can afford to be treated in a private clinic and forgo the long waits for service.

IMG 0289Analida in the San Juan de Miraflores district of Lima.

She first heard of MEDLIFE through a co-worker who was working with the group. After hearing about the concept of the mobile clinics, she decided to join herself to provide basic healthcare and consultation to the people in low income areas of Lima.

“We bring medicine, we bring prevention with pap smears and breast exams,” Palacios said. “I think the population will be more prepared.”

Just sitting down and being able to talk to a doctor can be an invaluable experience for those who have little to no access to healthcare. It is not uncommon for doctors working clinics to meet with patients with health problems ranging from diabetes and breast cancer that have gone untreated for years.

Although, Palacios is not following up with the patient's herself, she is the first contact they have with MEDLIFE and sometimes, any health care at all. In the private clinic where she works across the city, Palacios is able to use ultrasounds and labtests to diagnose and treat patients.  As MEDLIFE is travelling to different communities it is up to the doctors working the clinic to determine if a patient needs further attention, through conversations and basic health checkups.

“You can do the basic stuff, but you can also speak with the patient and the family,” Palacios said.

IMG 0155When travelling to communities, Analida Palacios determines which patients need to go on to seek additional care from hospitals or clinics with MEDLIFE's assistance.

Palacios says she looks for signs that would point to a diagnosis while taking in what the patients tell her about their symptoms and lifestyle. If a patient needs further attention, they are admitted to the follow-up program, where a nurse working full time with MEDLIFE will accompany them to hospital and clinic visits to get the care they need.

“If we don’t come here with this type of medicine, nobody will,” Palacios said.

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