Every year, dedicated MEDLIFE Chapter leaders have the opportunity to apply for the 7-week MEDLIFE Internship based out of our headquarters in Lima, Peru. 

Our 2019 interns worked closely with the MED International Team and helped run summer Service Learning Trips in Lima. They also shadowed our nurses on patient follow-up visits, community night meetings, and health workshops. Our interns also joined our annual 2-week Leadership Corps retreat with founder Dr. Nick Ellis and Chapter leaders from across the globe. They journeyed through Ecuador and Peru, visited our partner communities, and learned about the social issues that inspired the creation of MEDLIFE.

The MEDLIFE Internship is a fantastic opportunity to learn in a dynamic non-profit environment, experience professional and personal growth, and gain unique hands-on experience in the community development sector.

Read on to find out what our 2019 interns had to say about the experience!

Andrea H

Andrea Hernandez

As a person who is constantly studying, I feel that experiences can teach way more than books or school ever would. 

Before coming on the MEDLIFE Internship I was passionate about many things, but I always knew being part of something important and big was something my heart desired. Being part of the MEDLIFE family was something that made me feel whole. Every bus ride, every early morning or long hike, was so worth it because it made me realize how big we can be when we have a passion and drive to do what we love. 

These are the types of experiences that you learn from and can benefit a person’s growth in many ways. I am thankful I got to be a part of the MEDLIFE family this summer and I can’t wait to keep spreading the Movement everywhere I go.

2020 01 20 1

Talya Grecu 

This past summer I had the opportunity to participate in the MEDLIFE Internship program. This has been an amazing learning experience during which I have learned lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. One of the most impactful lessons learned is the importance of fully comprehending the past in order to better understand the present. 

Understanding the history of Peru puts into context why we see the issues we see today. This causal understanding is a crucial part of MEDLIFE’s work as MEDLIFE seeks to address the root causes of poverty. Moreover, an awareness of the history and motivations driving people to migrate to the cities is key to providing culturally sensitive and locally appropriate help, which is another key aspect of MEDLIFE’s work.

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Amanda Burgess

During my summer internship with MEDLIFE, I was eager to learn about global health in the field. Sitting in a library at school, reading about water scarcity in Peru is a different experience than hiking through the muddy hillside of the urban settlements, or pueblos jóvenes, outside of Lima and seeing the old chemical containers that are the source of water for some houses. 

Through the MEDLIFE Internship, I have been able to enhance my perspective on global health issues that I would never have learned in a classroom in Ohio. I believe that traveling and experiencing the world is crucial to anyone studying global health and I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to intern with MEDLIFE this summer.

2020 01 20

Kate Byars

You wouldn’t think that hiking for hours on a steep, muddy, high elevation path to sleep on the floor of an unheated school with over a dozen strangers would be one of the most meaningful experiences in my life. As my mom so eloquently put it: it sounds a lot more like boot camp than the beginning of an internship.  

Throughout my MEDLIFE Internship, I realized that discomfort is a good thing. It pushed me to understand that global poverty is not a simple thing that you can understand in a Kentucky classroom. You can’t just look at abstract academic factors, but must address the on-the-ground situation of a child that needs stitches too. Discomfort helps you to see the reality of the situation and feel desperately passionate about doing something to change it. Our place in the MEDLIFE movement, no matter who we are or what we do, is to take that passion and use our home communities and different skill sets to support people in improving their own communities.

 

2020 MEDLIFE Internships

Are you interested in becoming a MEDLIFE Summer Intern? 

Applications are open until 24 January! Apply now via Campus Labs.

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. 

I’m a biology major. My classes involve a lot of walking through the woods, measuring the circumference of trees, and counting bugs. So, you’d be correct to assume that my friends had quite a few questions when I decided to pick up and move 3,199 miles (5148 km for anyone who’s wondering) away for three months to do an internship that consists mostly of taking pictures, writing blogs, and posting on the MEDLIFE facebook page. The answer is pretty simple; I am trying to see the world through a different lens.
“Why are you helping abroad and not back at home?” 
 
This question haunted me throughout the summer, but I knew it would follow me the rest of my life since I have a desire to live and work in another country after graduation. It was hard for me to answer, but interning with MEDLIFE for a summer helped me find clarity.
 
I devoted three months of my life to uncertainty. I had never been away from home this long, never been to Lima, Peru, and never met the thirteen other interns I would be living and working with. It was definitely scary, but it's through these moments of uncertainty that I learned more about who I am and about the needs of the world, specifically Peru.
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.

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