Rosali Vela

Rosali Vela

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Last week we posted a video of our little patient Guadalupe as she received the milk formula donation from our Florida International university Chapter (You can watch the video here). Read her story and find out more about why this beautiful child needs our help!


In 2014 Irma found out that she would be mother for the second time. This time, a girl was coming. She was very excited, daydreaming about how her world would change with the arrival of her daughter. Thousands of dreams slowly faded away to become what would be the biggest fight of her life.

As time passed, she noticed that her pregnancy was developing differently than her first and at five months pregnant, she was interned in the hospital.The amniotic fluid surrounding the baby was abnormal, so the doctors had to perform surgery to remove about a half liter of the fluid. Irma described the fluid as something that "looked like a strong tea". To safely continue with her pregnancy, Irma had to simply rest until the baby was big and strong enough to survive outside the womb.Guadalupe Yuncatupa Roque was born at eight months and after a few days at the hospital, Irma and her baby were discharged.Guadalupe had an average baby weight and size so there was nothing to be worried about.

Once at home, Guadalupe cried a lot. Irma did her best to calm her, giving her all the love and affection she could but after a few weeks Guadalupe became jaundiced. Worried about her daughter, Irma took her to the public hospital and the doctors told her that in two months the jaundice would disappear. It did eventually go away on it's own but Irma remained concerned about her daughter's health as her daughter was always breathing very fast.

One day Guadalupe's incessant crying was every more persistent than usual, she couldn't be calmed despite attempts to feed her. Guadalupe continued crying until she suddenly stopped breathing.Irma got scared and took her to the hospital where it was explained to her that babies sometimes stop breathing, that it was normal. Despite her fears, Irma had to return home.

Fifteen days later during a routine appointment with pediatrician, Irma was told that her daughter had a heart murmur. She was sent to book an appointment with a cardiologist but because she only had social insurance Guadalupe couldn't be seen for 4 months.

In another follow-up appointment with the pediatrician Irma told the doctor that Guadalupe was having trouble breastfeeding, she was no longer accepting the breast and would always cry. She was sent for a sonogram and also needed an electrocardiogram but she would have to wait 3 more months to for this exam.


Guadalupe's health was declining every day. The left side of her chest was enlarging and deforming. Worried, Irma took her to the pediatric hospital emergency room but they could only tell her some babies born with malformations.  Irma knew that was not right and Guadalupe was not born this way. 

One moth before the appointment with a cardiologist, Guadalupe went back to the hospital with a fever and severe malformation around her liver. The doctor told Irma that Guadalupe needed a scan of her lungs, and the results were astonishing. Guadalupe's heart had grown to the size of an adult's, and one of her lung's appeared black. 

At this point Irma had to make a difficult decision; she had to stop working to take care for her baby full time.

Guadalupe was admitted to the hospital and the next day they performed a few diagnostic tests. After getting a emergency echocardiogram, they confirmed that the atria and left ventricle were too large and the mitral valve did not close properly, which caused regurgitation.

A knot in the aorta kept the heart from passing blood which cut off circulation in Guadalupe's legs. The doctors formed a medical board to discuss whether to perform open-heart surgery or a more simple catheter procedure. They reached the conclusion that it would be more appropriate to introduce a catheter, since the Guadalupe was underweight and would have difficulty surviving open-heart surgery. 

Guadalupe underwent the procedure and they introduced a probe for treating the coarctation of the aorta. Doctors were still not able to address the most severe concern, her mitral regurgitation. The doctors informed Irma that due to Guadalupe's small size, it would not be possible to operate. 

There is still the possibility that Guadalupe can have this life-saving operation, but in order to do this she needs to gain weight. 


Guadalupe has a lot of difficulty eating, as her heart is enlarged it presses against her diaphragm causing the food be be regurgitated. She needs to drink milk formulas with special vitamins and nutrients suitable for heart health and gain weight, but these types of formulas are very expensive in Peru.

For this reason, formula donations were essential to Irma and Guadalupe. Weight gain will allow her to continue with all her treatments and get the surgery she needs to have a chance at life. 

A special thanks goes out to Gabriel Jane, Megan Otero, and Dr. Lily Taboas for donating all of the baby formula to Guadalupe. Another big thanks goes to David Gregorio and Valeria Saldana, who helped transport the sizable donation all the way to Peru.

Finally, a big thanks to the whole Florida International University team for the great work they did during their clinic in Lima this Summer 2015! One of the best things about MEDLIFE's structure is our ability to make connections like this one between our patients' immediate needs and the time and resources of our passionate donors and volunteers. Thank you, Medlife at FIU!

We will continue to support Guadalupe and making everything possible to give her a chance at the healthy life she deserves. 


Carly Epstein from the University of Delaware fundraised $3,700 before her MEDLIFE trip to Cusco, Peru in the Spring of 2015. Fifty percent of the money she raised went towards the cost of her participation fee and the other fifty percent will be put towards supporting MEDLIFE's work prodiving healthcare to communities in need.Thank you for your hard work, Carly!

How did you hear about the 50:50 campaign?

I received an email from my school about the MEDLIFE trip. I decided I wanted to go on the trip and volunteer, and then I began raising money for the 5050 campaign!

How long was your campaign?

I started campaigning about three weeks before my trip.

What did you do to be most successful during the fundraising process?

To be most successful, I wrote a small little blurb about what I was doing, why I was doing it and why it meant a lot to me. I posted this on Facebook and sent out a few email. My mother and father actually helped me as well.

Did you encounter any obstacles in the process? How did you overcome them?

The only obstacle I had was just getting (the message) out there and explaining what this trip was about. But I think once I was able to write down my feelings about it, I was able to get peoples' attention and they were able to contribute and help me raise money for the campaign.

How was organizing a 50:50 campaign a positive experience?

It was really rewarding being able to see the money go up as the time went on. It meant a lot to me that people cared about my purpose and this cause. It actually has been a very positive experience for me.

How do you feel about the impact you have made raising money to support people like the ones you are working with on this trip?

I think that the impact is huge to be able to donate this money towards such an important cause. To deliver health care to people who don't have the opportunity to go to the doctor, have a visit, and be taken care of.

Do you have any advice for other students considering 50:50 campaigns?

Its definitely important to make it personal, to say what you feel about it and why its important to you. I think that's what worked best for me and I think people can feel that; they feel it through your words. That would be my advice for other students J.


Lauren Britt from the University of Michigan completely covered the cost of her participation fee for her MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in Lima, Peru by simply organizing a successful 5050 campaign. In no time, Lauren's strategy for her campaign and the generous contribution of friends and family earned over $2,000! Her campaign was straightforward and allowed her to have an amazing trip experience in Lima. Find out more about the 50:50 campaign here.


How did you hear about the 5050 campaign?
I heard about the opportunity to organize a 5050 campaign through the chapter at my university, through emails and from the MEDLIFE website.
How did you fundraise for your campaign?
Basically to raise money and put my campaign out there, I just posted it on my social media accounts and emailed to reach out to friends and family.
Do you have any recommendations for people considering a 5050 campaign?
For people considering organizing a 5050 campaign, I would just say, don't hold back! Send it to everyone. You'd be surprised at the people who you are not really in touch with but who want to help out and help fund your trip because. I mean, some people I haven't talked to since middle school donated to my campaign!
What was your experience organizing a 5050 campaign?
The campaign was super easy and really accessible. All I really had to do was upload a picture of myself and change the formulated message to make it a little more personal. I kept checking and every day I kept getting more and more donations. I was awesome!
How has your mobile clinic experience been so far?
So far it's been incredible here in Lima. I wasn't very involved in my chapter at school, but after this trip I think I'm going to be more present in the group.
What has your most memorable experience been with MEDLIFE so far?
So far the tour of Pamplona Alta was the most eye-opening and inspiring part of the experience because it showed us where we're doing work throughout the week.

Read about one of our volunteer's experience organizing a highly successful 50:50 campaign for her trip to Lima, Peru! Find out more about the 50:50 campaign here.


Name: Wesley Tomlinson

Amount raised: $1300

Are you a MEDLIFE chapter member?

I'm not actually in a MEDLIFE chapter. I decided to come alone with my best friend from med school. We both go into different universities so we thought it would be an amazing experience to meet up half way around the world to partake in a volunteer trip.

How did you hear about the 50:50 campaign and why did you decided to organize one?

It was on the website when i signed up to MEDLIFE. My sister who had previously been on a volunteer trip told me all about it. After reading up the benefits of the campaign on the website I knew thye campaign was for me. It became a clear decision once i knew that half of the money i raised would go towards funding my trip and the other half to helping out the community that I wanted to volunteer for.

How long before your trip did you start and finish?

I only started my campaign in October. I remember only having 60 days left until Lima, only starting the campaign a month or so before my trip. It was at this point that I started posting on social media websites and sending out e-mails. I was very lucky to have friends and family who would share my link to the page.

What did you do to be most successful with your judgment when you fundraised? Did you encounter any obstacles in the process and how did you over come that?

I tried to reach out to as many different people as possible, to see if they would be willing to donate. I was stunned with the feedback that i received, as everyone I reached out to were very supportive, financially and verbally. However, I did encounter a few obstacles. Some people chose not to respond to me, some people just ignored my requests, but you have to take these experiences on the chin and keep up the momentum.

What advice would you give to others who want to start their own campaign?

I would say just go for it! Even if you are worried about not raising any money, it can't hurt to try. You have to think and stay positive!

Read about one of our volunteer's experience organizing a highly successful 50:50 campaign for her trip to Cusco, Peru! Find out more about the 50:50 campaign here.

342-1-Aubrey-Kuester-5050Name: Aubrey Kuester

Amount raised: $1285

What are you studying? I study at Florida State University and I'm studying exercise science. 

How did you hear about the 50:50 campaign? I heard about the 50:50 campaign when I signed up through the MEDLIFE website. The campaign is advertised on the first page, and it seemed like the easiest and most effective way to raise money.

Why did you decided to organize a 50:50 campaign? I decided to organize a 50:50 campaign to not only raise money for my own trip but I also wanted to help the communities in any way that I could, and I know it would be easier for my relatives donate.

How many weeks did your campaign last? I started my 50:50 campaign roughly a month before my trip and I reached out to all my relatives and friends in my community to help me make this trip possible.

What did you do to make your campaign most successful? What I did specifically to raise money was send emails to most of my friends and relatives, also my old coaches and teachers that I've had in the past. I wrote a personal email, not just a generic one they provided on the website, and I sent it personally to all my relatives with their name and my own link to my personal page. I think it was really effective because half the money was donated to Cusco. People were more willing to donate rather than the money just going to me. It ended up being a great advantage for my campaign and I ended raising a lot of money that way.

Did you encounter any obstacles in the process? How did you overcome them? It was a little difficult getting people to donate online, some people were skeptical about putting their credit card through an Internet system, but I think the 50:50 campaign is a really secure and easy way to donate.

How was organizing a 50:50 campaign a positive experience? The 50:50 campaign was extremely rewarding, specially after I came here to Cusco and witnessed it first hand how little the people here are working with and the conditions that they have to deal with. Knowing that I personally raised a significant amount of money, enough for medicine for 90 people and supplies so they can use in a daily basis, just made it extremely rewarding.


What do you think of your volunteer trip? Its been extremely rewarding so far, especially seeing the smiles on the kids faces and actually been hands on and experiencing the culture here. It has been extremely worth it.

How do you feel about the impact you have made by raising money to support a local community? Before I came to Cusco, I didn't know what to expect. Personally, witnessing the conditions that people have to deal with here, and how little medical attention they have, what little access they have to proper medicine and education makes an organization like MEDLIFE really important. It has such a positive effect on the community since we are not asking for any money, we are giving free medical attention to people that truly need it, that they might have to drive or walk hours to get just basic health care. It is something that is very close to my heart and I couldn't be happier about being here.



September 12, 2014 2:56 pm

Meet the Interns Year-long 2014 Part 2


Name: Molly Trerotola
Hometown: Andover, MA
School: University of Wisconsin - Madison
Major: Strategic Communication, Certificate in Global Cultures
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I learned about MEDLIFE my senior year through a campus-wide email. Though I was never involved in the chapter at my university, I admired the organization for its work and impact in the global community. I jumped at the opportunity when I heard about the internship and was overjoyed to learn I was accepted!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I'm an east-coaster turned midwesterner when I fell in love with Madison, Wisconsin. Though my love for UW-Madison runs deep, my love for travel and discovering other cultures is even deeper. I was heavily involved in an international not-for-profit at my university and hope to continue working in the international field in the future. I'm a lover of Sudoku puzzles, my dog Lola, and the occasional yoga class. I eat pretty much anything—though I give preference to chocolate.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I was looking for a professional experience that would challenge me, and one I would learn an immense amount from. I've always been interested in pursuing non-profit work, especially in a Spanish speaking country. I saw working for MEDLIFE as an opportunity to experience a new part of the world while making a difference and gaining more experience in communication for non-profits. This internship checked off all the boxes—it was a no-brainer.
What was your first impression of Lima?: LIMA!! The city pretty much shouts at you from the moment you arrive. It is vibrant, loud, vast, and always packed with a multitude of things to do. The city buzzes with energy, and I can't wait to soak it in!

2014-nikita-guptaName: Nikita Gupta
Hometown: West Windsor, NJ
School: Johns Hopkins University
Major: Neuroscience
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: When I was a freshman, I was looking to volunteer in South America on a mobile clinic for a couple weeks. At that time, the MEDLIFE chapter at Hopkins was just getting started. The officers were so enthusiastic, I knew right away I wanted to get more involved with the organization. I applied for a board position, and went on a 2-week clinic to Lima, Peru that summer. Over the years I became the Fundraising Chair, Community Service Coordinator, and finally President of the Hopkins' Chapter of MEDLIFE.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: After returning from my service trip in Lima, I could never forget the people I had met and those whose work our efforts supported. I wanted to come back to Lima and continue supporting MEDLIFE's mission. I had already decided to take a bridge year between college and medical school, and I wanted to volunteer abroad with a global health non-profit organization. The MEDLIFE year-long internship was the perfect fit.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born and raised in New Jersey to parents of Indian origin. Last year, I spent a transformative semester studying abroad in Brazil, Vietnam and South Africa with the International Honors Program. After returning to America, I craved more… more travel, more cultural immersion, more personal growth. I now take every opportunity I get to explore new cultures. In my free time, I love to dance, and I have gone on tour with singers like Jay Sean and Sukhwinder Singh (the singer of Jai Ho). I am also very interested in women's health and empowerment and hope to become an OB/GYN one day.
What was your first impression of Lima?: I love South American culture in general, but I have a special connection to Lima. When I first came here three years ago, I was blown away by the vast amount of love and warmth that I received from every single person I met. Everyone was so willing to share their music, food and dance with me; it made my time here so enjoyable. I remember listening to Joey Montana and Chino y Nacho for weeks after I came back, and I can't wait to see what this year has in store for me!


Name: Julie MacKinnon
Hometown: Montreal, Canada
School: McGill University
Major: Geography
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I became involved with McGill's MEDLIFE Chapter this past year at school. After going on a mobile clinic trip with MEDLIFE to Riobamba, Ecuador this past December, I knew I wanted to learn more about MEDLIFE as an organization and what they are working towards.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: Being given such a wonderful opportunity to learn a new language and travel, all while helping people, seemed like a pretty perfect combination to me. I'm looking forward to learning even more about MEDLIFE and how an organization like this works.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I'm originally from Canada, but have also lived in England, France, Singapore and the U.S. I am currently a senior at McGill University, and I'm hoping to learn more about pursuing a path in public health after living in Lima. I'm very excited to be living here, and I'm sure it will be a great new experience!
What was your first impression of Lima?: I'm so excited to be in Lima and to really get to know the city and appreciate all it has to offer. So far I've been blown away by how friendly everyone is, and how good the food is, and I'm sure I will love even more parts of the city as I get to know it better. 

2014-bill-attwellName: Bill Attwell
Hometown: Portsmouth, England
School: Leeds College of Art
Major: Creative Advertising
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: After I finished university I decided that I wanted to travel, and see more of the world. It became clear to me that the best way to do this is to travel with a purpose. MEDLIFE has given me this ideal opportunity, as I can combine this internship and my passion for creative work and design with my passion for traveling, as well as being able to do good in South America.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am an aspiring Art Director, with the dream of working in an advertising agency. I'm very open minded, a deep thinker, and I love creative ideas that solve problems. No matter where I go on this planet I often find myself in woodland areas, with a fascination for the nature which surrounds me. I love to Skate, Surf, and Go fast!
Why did you decide to become an intern?:  I wanted to use my skills to make a change, and MEDLIFE gave me that opportunity.
What was your first impression of Lima: My first impression of Lima was 'It is HUGE'. Like any large city it is extremely diverse and varied. The city has different districts which all seem like different cities to me, especially when I compare it to my tiny home town. One thing it has which I cannot compare to any other city I have seen before, is an area surrounding the city, packed tightly with poverty stricken areas. It is hard to have fun in the city, then look up at the hills and wonder how these areas might be able to have the same sort of fun?


Name: Charlie Hartley
Hometown: Bethesda, MD
School: University of Wisconsin - Madison
Major: History and Pre-medicine
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I heard about MEDLIFE through the chapter at UW, which had just returned from a trip to Lima. I went to their spring semester meeting and was struck by the images they showed and decided to delve into the organization a bit deeper. As I was reading through the MEDLIFE website I noticed they had a year-long internship. I applied and lo and behold here I am!
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I guess the cliché message from super hero shows never really wore off. We may not be able to be Superman but we can do our part. Working for MEDLIFE is a great opportunity to be a part of an organization that is actively seeking to better as many people's lives as possible. I feel honored and fortunate to have been brought into this organization and I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead this coming year.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I enjoy exploring cultures and places I've never experienced before. I believe the best way to experience the world is through its food. I am a younger brother and have always enjoyed giving my sister a hard time - only because I look up to her. My family means the world to me and the world is my family.
What was your first impression of Lima?: It is exhilarating and chaotic. I've never experienced a place with such contrasting frantic and leisurely tempos. You're racing to catch a combi one second and spending a few hours talking over a plate of ceviche the next. I can tell every day is going to have a new experience.
September 9, 2014 9:33 am


At the beginning of this school year, The University of Puerto Rico organized a meeting for all those interested in volunteering with MEDLIFE at their university. They had an incredibly impressive turnout; over 300 students turned up to learn more about the work MEDLIFE does! The UPRM MEDLIFE chapter's hard work and great organizational skills make them our New Chapter of the Year award winners! A big congratulations and thank you goes to them for their dedication to MEDLIFE. Here is an interview with the presidents of the chapter which includes advice on how to recruit lots of members and run a successful MEDLIFE chapter.


When and how did your chapter begin?

 The MEDLIFE-UPRM Chapter was founded by Eduard H. Valdes and Paola C. Diaz last year, after attending a Mobile Clinic in Tena, Ecuador. Most of the 2014-2015 Executive Board members met in January 2014, at our first Mobile Clinic in Riobamba, Ecuador. Up to date, the UPR-MAYAGÜEZ MEDLIFE Chapter counts with 93 active members from all faculties and has officially participated in two Mobile Clinics: one in Riobamba, Ecuador and the other one in Lima, Perú.  Our main mission is to provide activities that enhance students' skills in leadership, teamwork and community service. For this year, our next destination is Tena, Ecuador.

What strategies did you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus? 

We love to incorporate technology in everything we do. So, we have mainly promoted our activities through social networks. We sent mass-email recruitment, and used our official Facebook and Instagram pages to our advantage. The Facebook Pages App is really useful; it allows us to share information and photos easily. Also, the page makes use of statistics algorithms that let us know how many people have seen the posts. In addition, our Social Media and Advertising Officer is also a member of Her Campus- UPR Mayaguez, so she has written various articles about MEDLIFE UPRM. We also participated in student fairs, posted flyers around the campus, and even made brochures.

What system do you use to recruit new members? What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?

As part of our technological innovations we introduced online attendance lists.  Instead of going through the hassle of passing a list through a classroom that has more than 300 people, we made a live form on our Google drive. The form is similar to the ones used for surveys but more accessible.  The students are able to access the form from their smartphones by scanning a QR code displayed on our power point presentation.  As the students submit the form the results are posted on a spreadsheet on our drive.  This reduces the margin of error and allows us to save time as we can now skip the process of copying all the names and emails to a computer. Not to mention that we are also saving trees in the process by not having to print a bunch of papers to be used as lists for every meeting. 

On the topic of saving trees, once the students are done submitting their responses the list can be organized in alphabetical order, field of study or how they became aware of the chapter's meeting.  By doing this we were reassured that we could concentrate more on online promotions since most of the students replied that they were informed of the meeting by a social network. Rather than going through campus posting flyers or any type of advertisement that requires the use of paper, we put our efforts into spreading the word in the social networks and email newsletters.   

Effortlessly sending emails is just another advantage of our attendance list form. Emails can be copied directly from the spreadsheet into the newsletter mailing list. This eliminates the process of adding email addresses one by one to the mailing list.


What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year? 

FUNDRAISERS: Our team has ramped up fundraising efforts organizing activities, such as cake and pizza sales.

CHAPTER FUND: We decided to create the “Chapter Fund” to help relieve the cost for the students who have actively participated in 90% of our activities and cannot afford the trip. This fund has rewarded the dedicated students who have put in the hard work towards our MEDLIFE chapter.

COMMUNITY SERVICE: As community service, we created the “Patch Adams” activity. Members from our chapter volunteer and dress as clowns in an effort to bring humor to orphans, patients and other people. We also created an event called “Vísteme para mi fiesta”, where we collect donated prom dresses and deliver them to selected girls who cannot afford the expenses. 

EDUCATION: We also added “Triage Training” to our list of activities. The students learn basic medical techniques. They practice how to measure vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature; the students also learn how to use the stethoscope and perform a heart auscultation. 

MEDLIFE WEEK: A whole week dedicated to MED's activities: Medicine, Education and Development. We end the week with a White Coat Ceremony to formally initiate all our new members. 

What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2014-2015)?

We will continue with our previous activities, but we would also like to accomplish these new goals:

  • Organize a Health Fair and offer free basic healthcare services to all faculty members of our university. 
  • Expand our interdisciplinary membership base.
  • Offer more MED's activities: Medicine, Education and Development.
  • Organize local Mobile Clinics and offer hands-on experience to train our students, and provide a space where they can learn prior to the Mobile Clinic.


September 2, 2014 11:16 am

Meet the Interns Year-long 2014 Part 1


Name: Clare Lilek
Hometown: Rochester Hills, MI
School: University of Michigan
Major: Women's Studies and Spanish
How I got involved with MEDLIFE:My beginning involvement with MEDLIFE was a whirlwind. My senior year of college I randomly heard about an upcoming Mobile Clinic trip to Riobamba, Ecuador and on a whim I signed up with only two months until the start date. After that initial commitment, I was in. I was in the MEDLIFE boat.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I love to travel and explore, yet one of my favorite things to do is curl up on the couch with a good book and a hot cup of tea. 
Why did you decide to become an intern?: I've known for a while that the "real world" isn't quite ready for me as much as I'm not ready for it. I didn't want to immediately go into more schooling or a career right after graduation because I still needed to explore the world. I craved travel and different experiences in the hopes of better informing my future path and goals. After experiencing a MEDLIFE mobile clinic trip first hand in Riobamba, I knew that this type of work is what I would want to do during my year off. Be in a different country, speak a foreign language, meet some inspirational people, and work for something that is larger and greater than myself.  

2014-julieName: Julie Ma
Hometown: Topeka, Kansas
School: Emporia State University
Major: Biochemistry and Spanish
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: Prior to receiving this internship, I had no experience with MEDLIFE. I wanted to serve somewhere in Latin America and after researching online and coming across MEDLIFE, I knew I wanted to be a part of their mission and contribute as an intern.
Why did you decide to become an intern?: It's a great opportunity to help those truly in need, gain practical skills doing something I love, and travel!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am currently a senior and am interested in pursuing a career related to health. Wanting to get out of my comfort zone and Kansas, I studied abroad in South America last summer and realized how much travelling changed me for the better. Since then, I try to take every opportunity possible to help communities in need, specifically in health. In my free time, I love trying new foods, travel every chance I get, and the beach!  

Name: Laura McClung
Hometown:Leawood, Kansas
School: University of Southern California
Major:Biological Sciences, Minor in Spanish
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I got involved with Medlife the summer after my freshman year when two friends asked if I wanted to go on a trip to Tena, Ecuador to see what Medlife was about. We were inspired by the work that Medlife does and thought that other USC students would be as well, so we went back to school that fall and started USC's Medlife chapter. 
Why did you decide to become an intern?: After I went on my first clinic to Tena in 2011, I wound up attending two more mobile clinics to Lima, and I knew that I wanted to return someday to devote a more extended period of my time to Medlife's cause. The internship seemed a perfect way for me to learn more about how global medical non-profits function, while living abroad for a year, and helping to provide Medicine, Education, and Development to communities in need in the slums of Lima.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: While I spent most of my time in college participating in pre-med-related activities, my two favorite things are food and music. I grew up playing the cello, and I love trying any and all kinds of food, so living in Lima will provide an exciting opportunity to discover all sorts of new food and music! 
July 17, 2017 10:30 am



Fleeing an uncertain future, Herminia was only 14 when she arrived from Huanuco. Her mother's words were clear, "We have no money for you to study." That was when Herminia decided to use her hard-earned savings to move to Lima and build a future in this chaotic city. 

Upon arrival, she sought out a distant aunt who gave her a job peeling potatoes at a market. The owner of the market, offered her a small room in his house, but his wife, full of jealousy, did everything possible to get Herminia out. Soon enough, Herminia was alone again and on the street. In an attempt to earn a little bit of money, Herminia bought a box of tomatoes and began selling them. She slept on the street for many weeks, until she could afford to buy a patch of cheap land in the hills. There, using some cardboard and old wood, Herminia built herself a house to keep her warm in the cold and wet Lima climate.

herminia3Herminia when we first met her in 2014.

Herminia met the father of her children one afternoon while working in the market. Although it wasn’t love at first sight, they began to rely on each other in hard times and grew stronger together. When her son was born, Herminia didn’t know whether to celebrate or mourn. She was making barely enough money to feed herself, let alone an extra mouth, but the thought of raising her own child was inspiration enough. Herminia decided to embrace this new challenge.

10 years have passed and Herminia remains living in poverty, but her determination to build a better life for her children meant that she could no longer remain the shy young woman who came from nothing. Herminia’s husband has since become the leader of their community, where six MEDLIFE staircases have been built. He and Herminia have worked day and night to help complete each and every one.

The fight for a better life did not simply end with the staircases, either. When she first moved to her community, the lack of electricity was a problem with no easy solution. Herminia worked tirelessly to learn about laws she had never heard of and rights she did not even know she had. The hard work ultimately paid off because, incredibly, Herminia managed to singlehandedly bring light and electricity to an entire community. 

Herminia talks to Janet, one of the MEDLIFE nurses, during a patient follow up visit.Herminia talks to Janet, one of the MEDLIFE nurses, during a patient follow up visit.

Herminia has since been entered into the MEDLIFE Patient Follow-Up program to treat the severe Rosacea on her face. Rosacea is a common acne-like skin condition that manifests itself in the form of redness of the face, an enlarged and bulbous nose, or tiny red pimples covering the nose and cheeks. Rosacea is a very bothersome and embarrassing condition for many adults, and, if left untreated, it can become much worse over time.

Although the condition is incurable, it is easily managed and controlled with prescription medication. Through our Patient Follow-Up Program, MEDLIFE has been able to provide Herminia with the ointment needed to treat her Rosacea. Now, thankfully, Herminia has one less inconvenience to worry about in her busy life. 

This week's volunteers brought us some surprises! Among all the 50:50 campaigns, over $4500 were raised for the MEDLIFE General Fund! Read below about two of the most outstanding campaigns to learn how they fundraised for the campaign and hear about their experience in Lima so far. Find out more about the 50:50 campaign here.

steph-5050-2014Name: Stephanie Wizner
Amount raised: $3530

What made you decide to do the 50:50 campaign? The campaign gave me a great platform through which I could pay for the volunteer trip, as well as raise some money for the different stair projects in Lima. I sent an e-mail with the staircase pictures showing potential donors how far their money could stretch, and where it was going exactly.

How did you raise the money for your campaign? A lot of it I have to thank my co-workersI'm not in school anymore, which means I'm not hustling poor students for donations. I started working in a corporate environment early this year. Fundraising in an office worked to my advantage since the vast majority of my co-workers were willing to donate to an aid trip across the world. Most of my work colleagues were middle-aged with families. A vast majority of my colleagues were eager to help fund my trip since they were not in the position to implement change physically. However, they could help financially by donating towards the 50:50 campaign as well as sending me out to Lima. My mother was a huge help too!

Why would you recommend that volunteers participate in the 50:50 campaign? When you're asking for donations, it's a lot easier to present a campaign to potential donators where they know where the money is going.

What is your favorite part about the Mobile Clinic so far? Definitely the children! Talking to the kids on clinic has given me an insight into their day-to-day lives. They all have so much hope, and aspire to be doctors, lawyers, veterinarians and chefs. They all had amazing dreams, which gives me real hope for their futures.

What were your impressions of Lima? It´s very diverse, some areas seem very Westernized like New York city; really up and coming. However, there are areas that I've experienced on Mobile Clinic that you would never normally see as a tourist in Lima, which has given me a whole new perspective on this economically diverse city.

martina-5050-2014Name: Martina L'Abbate
Amount raised: $2565

How did you first hear about MEDLIFE? I heard about MEDLIFE through my sister who studied at Cornell and plans on becoming a doctor, and she heard about the mobile clinic trip while at school.  She went to Ecuador, loved it, and came back with all these awesome stories, and since I want to be a physician assistant, I thought it would be a great life-changing experience, so I chose to go to Peru.

What made you decide to do the 50:50 campaign? If I was going to come to Peru, I figured that I would go all out since MEDLIFE needs the money to fund all of its programs.  Simply asking for five dollars from everyone really raised a lot of money not only for me,but for MEDLIFE as well, and I feel pretty good about that.

How did you raise the money for your campaign? I work at gymnastics gym, so I put up a flyer, and it ended up attracting a lot of the kids who kept showing their parents, "Mom, look what she's going to do!". Most of the money came from family members, my dad's boss, and others through word of mouth.

Why would you recommend that students participate in the 50:50 campaign? In America, we don't realize how good we have it.  My first day here I looked at the conditions that some of these communities are in and I almost was crying because back home I complain about trivial things like slow Wifi. We can donate so much without having to financially drain ourselves, and I think that we should give what we can when we have it.

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