November 7, 2018 3:27 pm

#GiveMED

Written by Lindsay Mahaney

This giving season, choose to support #GiveMED — MEDLIFE’s fundraising campaign in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. By supporting MEDLIFE, you’re supporting hundreds of thousands of people in their fight for equal access to healthcare, education, and a safe home.

To donate to #GiveMED, visit our website donation page, or text the code GIVEMED to 44-321. With your generous contribution, you will be joining the Movement to create a world free from the constraints of poverty this holiday season.

Supporting the MEDLIFE Movement #GiveMED

GiveMED

Giving Tuesday occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a day of global giving. Fueled by the power of social media, the campaign raises millions of dollars each year for non-profit organizations and charities worldwide. This year, MEDLIFE is participating in this incredible initiative to spread our Movement and raise money to empower patients and projects like these:

Give Medicine

Felix was working a labor intensive construction job to provide for his family when he fell and injured his head three years ago. Instead of treating the injury, the hospital gave him basic painkillers and sent him on his way. When the MEDLIFE team met him in Tena, Ecuador, he suffered from convulsions, fainting, and near immobility on his left side due to a cranial fracture. Unable to afford treatment, he had been forced to live with the side effects of his injury. Fortunately, he is now enrolled in our patient follow-up program where he receives physical therapy. With support from Chapters like the University of Southern California, who donated $1000 to his surgery, we are collecting funds to sponsor a surgery for him to receive titanium mesh to replace the broken piece of skull.

MEDLIFE’s team of local professionals work with patients from impoverished communities where we serve. Through our Mobile Clinics and follow-up care program, we are able to provide thousands of patients with high quality health care they would not receive otherwise. #GiveMedicine

Felix

Give Education

The district of Ventanilla just north of Lima is home to thousands of people spread throughout several communities. When we work with communities like this, we work hand in hand on community identified issues. One of the primary items identified: the need for quality health care — especially women’s health. Educational workshops within communities like Ventanilla cover topics ranging from breast and cervical cancer to sexual health. MEDLIFE’s professional staff discusses the risks and warning signs of breast cancer and the importance of performing regular self breast exams, as well as the importance of Pap smear exams and preventing cervical cancer. Community members also receive a hands-on workshop demonstrating how to perform a self exam.

These workshops are an important part of the MEDLIFE Movement because they provide a safe and open environment where community members can express concerns. Afterwards, requests for check ups at Mobile Clinics skyrocket! #GiveEducation

Ventanilla

Give Development

Señora Susana lives in one of the rural communities surrounding Cusco that were part of our Healthy Homes initiative. Through Healthy Homes we work to provide better living conditions by building fuel efficient, well ventilated stoves, promoting hygiene and nutrition, and improve access to furniture. For most families, open flame stoves are their main method for cooking. Firewood is cheap and easily accessible, unlike gas. However, cooking over an open flame is dangerous and can cause serious health problems, most commonly respiratory diseases. Due to the thick smoke, family members — especially children — often suffer from cataracts, blindness, increased risk of infections, chronic pulmonary obstruction, anemia, and lung cancer.

When MEDLIFE renovates a Healthy Home, not only are we providing an easier way to prepare food, but also providing a healthier environment for families. With a new stove, people like Señora Susana can lead a healthy, happy life. #GiveDevelopment

GiveMED2

Giving Back at Home

While the ultimate goal of #GiveMED is to celebrate and encourage giving globally, a parallel goal is that this initiative brings our Movement, Chapters, and fundraising together. We’re calling on all of our Chapters to hold a fundraiser on Giving Tuesday to support the Movement as a collective, worldwide group. Chapter members will hold any fundraising event that they want, big or small, on Tuesday November 27, 2018 to encourage their friends, family, and even kind strangers to #GiveMED.

Similarly, we encourage you to support the Movement throughout the entire giving season by not only donating but also sharing projects from MEDLIFE’s Headquarters and the incredible work you do at home on social media using the hashtags #GiveMED and #MEDLIFEMovement.   

To donate to #GiveMED, visit our website donation page, or text the code GIVEMED to 44-321.

November 1, 2018 2:03 pm

Meet the Patient: Zaida

Written by Lindsay Mahaney

Meet Zaida — she’s a super mom.

Zaida is a 27 year old, hard-working single mother from the community of Las Colinas outside of Lima, Peru. From the moment you meet her, you can see the determination in her eyes. She is the first to tell you that everything she does is for her 2 daughters who are 9 and 4 years old.

IMG 9488 1Zaida is a devoted mother who works hard everyday to support her children.

About 4 years ago, her partner left her without financial support to take care of her two daughters. After months of not receiving child support, Zaida began working with a recycling program in which she collected papers and bottles for companies that will pay a small amount for each thing you collect.

Unfortunately, she had nowhere to leave her daughters and wasn’t making enough money to support them. She would not sacrifice paying for the education of her children, so she took matters into her own hands.

Zaida took out a small loan from the bank, bought a moto-taxi, and recruited a neighbor to teach her to drive. It worked! Though she is still living in conditions of extreme poverty, she has enough money to sustain her life with her daughters. That is until there is an unexpected expense.

IMG 9499 1
This is the home Zaida and her children share together.

We met Zaida at a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic, where she brought her two daughters through the stations at the free, high-quality clinic we offered near her home. She had preventative exams such as general medicine check-up, a Pap smear, and a breast exam. During these tests, the local professional doctors working at the MEDLIFE clinic discovered a lump in her breast. Our nurses enrolled Zaida into our follow-up patient program and took her to the clinic to get it examined, where the doctor recommended immediate surgery as he suspected it was mastitis. But, in the public hospital system, surgeries are scheduled months in advance so her scheduled date would not be immediate.

IMG 9495 2Zaida weaves through the tiny paths of her community to get to her house.

MEDLIFE, hoping to accelerate the process, has been paying for private clinic appointments for Zaida. After a few more appointments, the doctor discovered her ex-partner had TB, and it was very likely that her issue was TB of the breast. The situation became even more urgent. In order to accelerate the operation date, we were looking for donations to supplement the higher cost of surgery at a private clinic.

IMG 9508 1Las Colinas, the community where Zaida and her daughters live, can be found in the foothills surrounding Lima.

Thanks to clients who traveled with our partner travel agency Good Life Expeditions, Zaida’s operation at a private clinic is fully funded! Good Life Expeditions evolved out of MEDLIFE when volunteers kept asking to extend their trips to explore the beautiful countries they were volunteering in. Rather than outsourcing to other companies that didn’t align with our values – we spotted an opportunity – establishing an inhouse travel agency to create authentic, meaningful travel experiences, AND generate much-needed income for MEDLIFE.

Through their support, Zaida will be able to return to her daughters healthy - sooner than ever!

"I cannot put into words how thankful we are. I like my new house. It's really pretty," said Nicol, Rosa Morocho's nine-year-old daughter at the house inauguration.

Inauguration in LimaIt is a tradition for MEDLIFE volunteers to break a bottle of champagne during the inauguration ceremony to commemorate a project they have worked on during their week of service.

In July 2018, MEDLIFE inaugurated the Morocho family’s house in AA.HH. Laderas de Nueva Esperanza, a community located in the outskirts of Villa Maria del Triunfo, Lima, Peru. There were smiles, laughter, and tears as we remembered the process we went through and all the people involved in building the house and creating relationships that will last forever. But, how did it all start?

A new house for the Morocho Family

In 2017, the MEDLIFE team was building a water reservoir in Laderas de Nueva Esperanza when we met Nicol, the young girl who lived next to the water reservoir we were building. Little by little, she won everyone's heart, and we learned her story.

 NicolNicol always has a smile on her face.

Nicol was a nine-year-old girl at the time, who would wake up very early every day to take care of her mom Rosa. She had never been able to walk and could barely use her right arm — an undiagnosed handicap she has had since she was a child. Nicol assumed a lot of responsibility caring for Rosa. With MEDLIFE’s support, Rosa was able to visit a doctor and receive a diagnosis: she was a victim of Polio, a virus that can spread to the nervous system causing irreparable damage and paralysis. While her disease is incurable, MEDLIFE worked to support Rosa in other ways.

In her home, Rosa would be forced to crawl on the floor with her one useable arm. Nothing was designed for someone who could not stand up. With that in mind, MEDLIFE elected to renovate the house into a Health Home for Rosa and Nicol. We added light switches close to the ground, a handicapped bathroom with a sink close to the ground, and ramps instead of stairs. With a renovated home, Rosa could now be on her own while Nicol is studying at school.

The day finally came when we inaugurated the much-needed house. We blew up balloons, and decorated everything to make the ceremony extra special. Then, with Nicol by our side, we broke a bottle of champagne and celebrated.

inauguration ceremonyNicol helping prepare for the inauguration ceremony.

Continuing to Thrive

A week after the inauguration, we called Nicol to let her know we were visiting with some volunteers and staff. When we arrived, she was waiting for us with a BIG smile on her face. It was inspiring to see all the decorations that they had in every room, making the house their own. Before we left, they let us know how grateful they were to all the volunteers, staff, and donors for making a dream come true. Nicol even showed us how much her grades had improved, and we were so proud!

Get to know Nicol and Rosa better by reading more of their story here.

 

A new houseNicol and Rosa in their new house.  

As a medical student going on a MEDLIFE internship, I most looked forward to the chance to see the mobile medical clinics in action and help to provide medical care to families in need. We were encouraged to read about the issues surrounding aid provision and health inequalities, and in doing so we encountered quotes such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s:

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane.”

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With these famous words still resounding, I arrived in the communities ready to help in whatever way I could. I was humbled to find that my help could only make a difference thanks to the communities themselves who came out in full force to help us build a staircase in the hills.

Despite having 20 students from the UK working together to pass cement, paint the walls, and clear debris – the community members outnumbered us. Some helped with the manual labor while others fetched drinks to reinvigorate us under the Peruvian sun. 

The trust that these people had in MEDLIFE was clear as they brought out their children to meet us, let us play with their dogs, and joined in and laughed as we sang a range of well-known songs from the UK to keep spirits up while we worked.

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Vital to this is the role played by local community leaders who are employed by MEDLIFE. They understand the communities and help to foster trust. This really struck me after an educational meeting about women’s health, when a crowd of 30 or so people stayed late to speak to one of these local leaders and explain their different needs.

It is through these discussions that we begin to recognize the different problems that each community faces, and allows us to personalize the help we provide. It was through these discussions that the idea to build staircases first arose - a simple idea that would never have occurred to me living in the UK, but clearly made a huge difference to the lives of the people we met and helped to create a safer place to live. I am very grateful to have been a part of MEDLIFE’s work, and look forward to being involved again in the future, and continuing to put the community at the heart of it all. 

May 9, 2018 9:04 am

Meet the patient: Juan Padilla

Written by Melanie Neyra

In 2016, Juan Padilla's life took an unexpected turn. He was aggressively assaulted, leaving him completely blind.

 

The Story of Juan

Juan lives with his wife and daughter in his deceased parents' house in Pamplona Baja, San Juan de Miraflores, one of the most dangerous districts of Lima, Peru. Two years ago, he was a taxi driver and the only economic support of his family, until he got assaulted on his way home from work.

As he was walking home, five men got off a moto-taxi, took all of his belongings, and then began kicking him until he dropped onto the street. But this wasn't enough for them and before leaving, they threw a chemical in his eyes. This is a technique that robbers use to keep their victim from recognizing them in the police station.  

 

Meet the patient: Juan PadillaJuan Padilla, in his parent's house, where he lives with his 4 siblings and his family

 

He was left in the street, and his left eye began swelling and turning purple. When Juan's wife saw him, she took him to a local hospital, Maria Auxiliadora, but they couldn't help him without an appointment. After three long months, he was finally able to see a doctor. Unfortunately, after waiting so long, it was too late to start treatment for his left eye and he had permanently lost his vision. But the doctor told him with surgery, he could save the sight in his right eye.

After the surgery, Juan was showing signs of recovery and began to do some simple work. He helped his friend trim threads on the t-shirts he was making to support the Peruvian soccer team, so he could support his family and cover some of his medical costs. But this wasn't enough.  

How MEDLIFE Got Involved

One day, Zoila Dorado, a friend of Juan’s that knew MEDLIFE through its mobile clinics, told him how the organization helps provide quality health care for people who can’t otherwise access it. Juan didn't hesitate to reach out and contacted one of MEDLIFE's nurses, Ruth.

When Ruth heard his story, she knew she had to do something, so she enrolled Juan in MEDLIFE's follow-up patient program. First, MEDLIFE supported him by paying for his medicine and special glasses, but since he had stopped working, this wasn't a sustainable solution for his family or for MEDLIFE.

Luckily, thanks to volunteers that participated in a Service Learning Trip, we were able to give Juan a carrito sanguchero (sandwich cart), where his wife could begin to work selling things like burgers and orange juice. They couldn’t stop smiling when they were presented with the cart, knowing that they would be able to make an income again.

 

Juan's family inaugurating their new carrito sangucheroJuan's family inaugurating their new carrito sanguchero

 

But the story doesn’t end there. A few months passed, when Juan was assaulted once again. His attackers hit him so hard with a baseball bat this time that his glasses broke. Even in this incredible pain, Juan stood up and went home. On his way into his kitchen, it all turned black. Juan was completely blind.

At first he was depressed, but thanks to his family, MEDLIFE volunteers, staff, and donors, he has been given hope.

 

IMG 4830MEDLIFE staff giving him a walking stick and a special watch

 

Juan’s Hopes for the Future

Now, Juan is enrolled in a program in CERCIL (Lima’s rehabilitation center for the blind), where they teach him how to live and develop professionally. It also connects him to fellow blind people, which makes him feel he isn’t alone and gives him the opportunity to swap stories and advice.

Juan told us there was a man from Ica, “and he came to CERCIL asking for help. He likes sports, especially running, and now is about to participate in the Pan American games. This made me ask myself - if this man can do it, why can't I?”

 

By attending a Service Learning Trip, you help us support MEDLIFE follow-up patients like Juan Padilla, and give them hope for a better future.

 

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