August 8, 2017 10:06 am

MEDLIFE Hygiene Project Stories

Written by Rosali Vela

WHY SANITATION?

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.

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September 3, 2012 11:23 am

MEDLIFE School Project: Cumanda

Written by Rosali Vela

  

14 12 2323The view from Mercedes's house.
 
Through this internship, I have had many opportunities to reflect on privilege in ways I have never conceptualized before. One day, I accompanied Janet, a MEDLIFE nurse, to a follow up appointment with Mercedes, who lives high up in the community of 15A1, Nueva Esperanza. While MEDLIFE has worked with 15A1 to build many staircases in the community, the final portion of the path leading to Mercedes’s house, when I visited, remained undeveloped, steep, and dusty. Excitingly, MEDLIFE already has a plan in place to build a staircase on the path to Mercedes's house. 
        
14 12 48MEDLIFE Nurse, Carmen, and Mercedes stand on the path to Mercedes's house, where a MEDLIFE staircase will be built.
 
After watching several women go up the path they traverse everyday with buckets of water and other materials in hand, I somehow stumbled up to Mercedes’s house on all fours, refusing to look behind me until I reached the top. Then, after we finished speaking to Mercedes and her children, we had to go back down. To me, this was definitely scarier than going up. So when Mercedes recommended a different path around the back of her house, I was relieved. However, the "safer path" meant narrowly walking along a wall built of seemingly unstable rocks.
 
14 12 2346Two of Mercedes's daughters play outside of her house.
 
I was only able to take a few steps along the rocks until my feet did not want to move further. I knew I had come to Lima specifically to work with impoverished communities, and I did not want to let fear of heights stop me. However, as much I told myself about the reasons I wanted to move forward, my feet did not seem to agree. Then, a little girl, maybe eight years old at most, ran down from the house above to offer to hold my hand. I was simultaneously embarrassed as the other MEDLIFE workers waited on the other side and amazed as this young girl tried to instill confidence in me. For the first time, I realized that even my fear of heights was a privilege. The people of 15A1 did not get to exercise the same fear. Even if the mothers, fathers, and children of 15A1 falter in the face of dusty slopes, they traverse them everyday to access basic resources. The young girl’s unhesitating kindness, while facing the same height that had my heart racing and palms sweating, taught me that my fear was entirely mental. If the girl could unwaveringly run down just to help me, I could at least take baby steps to continue to work in her community. I am grateful for the opportunity to support families during my time in Peru, and I am excited to continue to reflect on my own life along the way. 
 
14 12 8700Noor works on painting a staircase like the one that will benefit Mercedes and her family.

Noor Chadha is the co-president of the MEDLIFE at UC Berkeley Chapter and a 2017 MEDLIFE Summer Intern.

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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From Thursday, July 20 to Friday, July 21, 2017, MEDLIFE hosted its very first mobile clinic with the Santa Monica Women's Penitentiary in Lima, Peru. The two-day clinic was focused on women's health. The first day consisted of multiple women's health-related education sessions, where a variety of topics were covered including safe sex, risks and warning signs for cervical cancer, how to perform regular self breast exams, and more! On day two of the clinic the women were offered Pap smear exams and gynecological consultations, where they were prescribed treatments for a wide range of ailments. MEDLIFE will be returning to the prison in August to deliver the Pap smear results as well as perform breast cancer screenings. 

14-12-0304MEDLIFE partered with local health professionals to host the recent mobile clinic.

14-12-0307Attendees take notes during the first educational session of the day.

14-12-0374One of the attendees expresses a concern regarding breast cancer.

14-12-0381During the clinic, brand new toothbrushes were also provided for the children of all patients.

14-12-0396MEDLIFE Nurse, Janet Ludeña demonstrates the process of a Pap smear exam.

14-12-0473The women discuss their previous knowledge of breast and cervical cancer and look for connections in what they already know.

14-12-0513Two of the educational session attendees practice performing a self breast exam.


14-12-0606MEDLIFE interns, Julia and Crystal, prepare one of the examination rooms.

14-12-0652Melissa, another MEDLIFE summer intern, mans the pharmacy station during clinic.

14-12-0664Janet and MEDLIFE intern, Brandy, take patient's background information before their consultations.

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July 17, 2017 11:55 am

MEET THE PATIENT: Jofre

Written by Ximena Rodriguez
On several occasions, MEDLIFE has had the opportunity to host Mobile Clinics in the community of Pachamama Chico, located in the Alausí Canton, Tixan Parish, in the province of Chimborazo, Ecuador. In Pachamama Chico, MEDLIFE has attended to and helped with the treatment of multiple patients suffering from different heart problems.
 
During the recent summer Mobile Clinic season, MEDLIFE returned to Pachamama Chico once again, and this is where we met Jofre (9 years old).  Jofre and his parents visited all the way from the village of Guarinag, two hours from the town of Pachamama Chico. They came with the aim of attending our Mobile Clinic, since they had heard about MEDLIFE’s reputation of treating heart diseases in the community.
 
14 12 6078Jofre poses after his first eye appointment.
 
From a young age, Jofre had suffered from a peculiar condition; both eyes were always reddened, but one seemed to be more intensely affected than the other. 
 
Due to the family's limited financial resources, Jofre had never seen a doctor about his condition, and, with MEDLIFE holding a Mobile Clinic so close to their hometown, the family came with the hopes of finally being able to attend to Jofre's health problems. 
 
At the Mobile Clinic, Jofre was examined and diagnosed with cataracts. María Chavez, the Ecuador Patient Follow-Up Team Leader, later met with the parents to inform them about the Jofre's condition and to offer them, on behalf of MEDLIFE, the support that would be required from that moment on. The family, however, had arrived with the hopes of treating Jofre on-site and were wary of entering into the Patient Follow-Up Program. In the past, Jofre's mother had an operation on her gall bladder at the Alausí Hospital, where she had suffered from surgical complications. Consequently, they were worried that something similar might happen to Jofre. 
 
14 12 6080Jofre and his father outside of the eye clinic in Quito, Ecuador.
 
After some reassurance from MEDLIFE staff, Jofre's family finally agreed to enter our Patient Follow-Up program. We then accompanied them on a trip to the eye clinic in Quito where a specialist diagnosed Jofre with high astigmatism in both eyes. The doctor then requested to perform an internal examination of Jofre's left eye, since it was possible that a tumor could be causing some of his medical issues. 
 
Shortly after, results were received which ruled out a tumor as the source of the problem. Jofre was instead diagnosed with initial Keratoconus, a progressive thinning of the cornea. This condition, thankfully, can be treated with drops, which reduce inflamation, and corrective lenses, which will improve Jofre's vision. 
 
Jofre during his eye examination. Jofre during his first eye examination.
July 13, 2017 10:08 am

MEET THE PATIENTS: Adanel & Felix

Written by Ximena Rodriguez
At the end of the Mobile Clinic season, MEDLIFE is able to start working with patients more closely and with a more in-depth approach. Mobile Clinics bring with them a series of patients who are later entered into the MEDLIFE follow up program.  Among these patients, there are many whose health complications would be easily treated in a medical center.  This was the case with two patients we met in the last winter Mobile Clinic season.
 
Adanel Isaac Lema Paguay (4 years old) lives with his parents and two sisters in the community of Sanja Pampa, Canton Guano, in the province of Chimborazo, Ecuador. In December of 2016, we held a mobile clinic in Sanja Pampa. That's when we met Adanel, who was attended to by one of our local professional doctors. After examining him, the doctor’s report stated that Adanel suffered from heart disease. Since this anomaly in Adanel’s health required treatment, he became part of our patient follow-up program.
 
14 12 6103A photo of Adanel taken during his first home visit.
 
Shortly after receiving this diagnosis, we visited Adanel and his family at home to explain his condition and let them know that MEDLIFE would support them with whatever medical care he needed. 
 
MEDLIFE then contacted the Fundación Metrofraternidad, a non-profit branch of the Hospital Metropolitano in Quito, to make an appointment with one of the physicians there. On May 24, 2017 we traveled to the appointment alongside Adanel and his family. Here, doctors confirmed that Adanel was suffering from a systolic murmur. Doctors also performed an echocardiogram on that same day, and the cardiologist later diagnosed Adanel with a mild functional deficiency of the tricuspid valve. The doctor explained to us that it is not a problem which requires surgery, and, with due treatment, Adanel could easily be cured and finally be able to run, play, and do all the activities a child his age should enjoy.
 
14 12 6100Adanel getting examined by one of the physicians at the Hospital Metropolitano in Quito, Ecuador.
 
Shortly after meeting Adanel, we met Felix Fernando Sagnama Chimbo (12 years old), this time at a mobile clinic in the community of Pull Grande, Canton Guamote, where Felix lives. During his consultation with one of the MEDLIFE physicians, Felix complained of major discomfort in the eye. There was no doubt that Felix was a person who needed to continue with medical care after the mobile clinic.
 
14 12 6085Felix and his father at their first follow-up appointment.
 
As we do with all of our follow-up patients, MEDLIFE visited Felix and his family after the clinic ended to let them know that, if they accepted the help, MEDLIFE would be assisting with Felix’s medical care from then on. 
 
We later made an appointment at an eye clinic in Quito, where the ophthalmologist informed us that Felix was suffering from severe allergies due to the wind and dust that exists in the area where his family lives. His sight was fine, and there were no major complications. The doctor then prescribed eyedrops to treat the allergies, and now Felix is feeling completely healthy. 
 
14 12 6086Felix has his eyes checked at the ophthalmologist.
 
Once again, MEDLIFE is proud because we have been able to help patients who are suffering from ill health find treatment thanks to our guidance. 
July 4, 2017 11:27 am

Inaugurating the Water Project in 15C

Written by Aidan Wells

On Monday, July 3rd, 2017 MEDLIFE Staff visited the communities of 15A1 and 15C in Villa María del Triunfo to innaugurate a brand-new water project. In June, several of the Lima mobile clinic participants were working on a  staircase project in 15C. Here, they listened to the community members discuss the need for a way to pump water from the bottom of the hill to the top. The volunteers asked that their participation fees go towards funding this particular project. Soon after, MEDLIFE created a community agreement with both 15A1 and 15C stating that MEDLIFE would provide materials for the pump-system. The communities then worked together set up the new system. This water project with hopefully improve the quality of life of people living in the area as they will no longer have to carry, by hand, heavy buckets of water up multiple flights of steep steps several times a week. 

IMG 0101Using a series of hoses, the new pump system will carry water from the bottom of the hill to the very top.

IMG 0091The system consists of multiple smaller pumps like the one pictured above.

IMG 0082Community members check the system at the halfway point to make sure everything is functioning properly.

IMG 0124MEDLIFE Interns and community members of 15C work to connect the new pump system to the water tanks at the top of the hill.

IMG 0137From the storage tanks at the top of the hill, the water then relies on gravity in order to be distributed to the houses below.

IMG 0133 1Each tank holds 1100L of water, and they will need to be refilled every 3 or 4 days.

IMG 0184Aidan Wells, one of the 2017 MEDLIFE Interns, checks the water tanks to make sure they work.

IMG 0197Finally, with the traditional bottle smash, the project is officially inaugurated!

 

I first met Deli on the final day of a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip; I had been sent to photograph the inauguration of a staircase in the community. The 9 year-old's shyness had apparently worn off as, almost immediately, Deli was giving me a tour of her newly constructed home. All it took was some encouragement from a couple of fellow MEDLIFE staff members, Kristine and Lina, who had been working in her community all week.  

IMG 1454Deli, along with MEDLIFE staff members Lina and Kristine, in front of the newly constructed home.

The simple structure sat just at the top of the newly built staircase, and a path through the rock had been cleared, leading up to a small white gate. After we looked at the space where the kitchen would be, her parent's room, and a living space, we reached what would eventually become Deli's room. Unfortunately, this brought our tour to an end, since Deli had realized that volunteers from the trip were opening some paint outside. She hastily joined as they decorated a rock that had been left protruding from the hills side in front of her home. A few brightly colored butterflies seemed to be just what the rock needed to be transformed into a makeshift plaque for Deli's new home. Two butterflies later, Deli's mother, Yajaira, called for her to attend the mobile clinic that MEDLIFE was holding elsewhere in the community.

IMG 1476Deli as she joined volunteers to decorate the rock in front of her home.

It was in the neighboring community of 15C where Carlos Benavides, director of MED Programs Peru, along with MEDLIFE staff members, Kristine and Lina, were introduced to Yajaira Muray Ary Tolentino. They were first introduced to Yajaira's story by a neighbor who came to ask for help on Yajaira's behalf. Then, they finally met her in person while working on a staircase project close by. Yajaira found MEDLIFE herself to seek out relief. 

18836602 1396510280410070 4251579475766490626 oYajaira's family in the space where her old shack used to be, getting ready to lay down the new structure. Also featured is Yajaira's husband, Felix, who has recently been entered into MEDLIFE's follow up program.

Yajaira and her family moved to Lima from the small Amazon town of Requena when Deli was just one year old. Originally settling with her parents lower down the hill, Yajaira later sought help from the community of 15A1, who were able to give her a small section of land. "I started to by using plastic to cover us, I made a small shack," says Yajaira. By the time she was 6 months pregnant with her second daughter she had created a two square meter structure which served as their home, "I lived there with my kids; it was small but we finally had our own place." It was obvious that the family was in need of more comfortable living conditions, and Carlos quickly coordinated the supplying of materials to improve the home.

18891456 1396518603742571 7972060645639709863 oLina and Kristine carrying up Supplies to construct the new home.

While working to improve her home, Deli, who, naturally, had already befriended everyone she'd met, expressed to the MEDLIFE team that she was worried about her mother's health. The team was sure to inform the family that MEDLIFE would be bringing a mobile clinic to the community the following week. I later learned the extent of Yajaira's health issues when on a home visit with one of the MEDLIFE nurses as part of the patient follow up program. 

IMG 2124Yajaira and her family on the day of inauguration.

A little over a week later, I sat down with Yajaira as she explained why Deli had shown so much concern during the last visit by MEDLIFE staff. Since the age of 14, following the loss of her first child, Yajaira had been fainting up to two times a week. Obviously these fainting spells have been disruptive and dangerous to Yajaira's everyday life, but she has not yet recieved any kind of diagnosis. As of right now, the cause of Yajaira's illness remains unclear, but, with MEDLIFE's assistance, I hope that we can improve Yajaira's quality of life even further. From here, the next step is to fully enroll her into MEDLIFE's patient follow up program. Then, the MEDLIFE nurses will be able to assist Yajaira in discovering the root cause of her condition and, hopefully, find a solution. 

 IMG 1725The bottle smash, a Peruvian tradition to inauguratea finished construction project.

IMG 2318Yajaira and her youngest daughter in front of their new home.

MEDLIFE Patient story: Yajaira Muray Ary Tolentino from MEDLIFE on Vimeo.

"The sky is the limit if you have a roof over your head."- Sol Hurok
 
1
 
There are many moving parts that go into the creation of a safe building, but in Peruvian construction, the roof is considered the most important. A completed roof symbolizes a completed project. The walls may need spackling and a fresh coat of paint, and the floor may need cleaning, but these are just aesthetic changes. No matter what, with a finished roof, a project is ready to be used. 
 
2Carlos Benavides, director of MED Programs Peru, stands with the materials required to fill in the roof.
 
On Sunday, June 25, 2017, just two months after the plans were finalized and the community agreement was signed, MEDLIFE Staff headed out to Union de Santa Fe to see the completed roof on the second floor of the wawa wasi.  Union de Santa Fe community members, along with a few of the MEDLIFE interns, hauled countless buckets of rocks and sand to the cement mixer until the roof was finished and ready to be inaugurated. 
 
3With the addition of a cement mixer, a machine not readily available on project days, we were able to finish the roof in just one day!
 
5MEDLIFE Summer interns, Brandy and Jana, pass a bucket of rocks down the cement assembly line.
 
4Project days might be tough work, but they are definitely fun, too!
 
The first floor to the Wawa Wasi was completed in 2015 , and serves as a space for the Cuna Más program. Cuna Mas is a government program which provides trained childcare personnel and nutritional meals for kids. However, it is only available to kids between 6 months and 3 years old. In Peru, children don't start primary school until age 6, so kids who are between ages 3 and 6 can't enjoy the facilities. The new second floor of the Wawa Wasi will be used for a program called PRONOEI, a preschool for children ages 3-6. This addition aims to close the 3 year gap between when children age out of Cuna Más and start primary school, as well as provide a safe childcare facility for the children of working parents.  

 6Members of Union de Santa Fe spread the concrete mixture on the Wawa Wasi's roof.

7Ricardo Ccasani, Union de Santa Fe community leader and MEDLIFE staff member, fixes a leak in the pipe carrying cement to the roof. 

8Thanks to the immense support of the Union de Santa Fe community, the Wawa Wasi roof was completed in just four hours!

9The summer interns take a break from all the hard work to pose for a quick picture!

10MEDLIFE Staff members, Martha, Rosali, Raúl, Edinson, Angie, and Dr. Nick Ellis, pose in front of the Wawa Wasi after the inauguration.

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