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

Written by Rosali Vela

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. 

IMG 2898Las Brisas de California, next to the huge drainage gorge carved by the floods.

      When Rosio's daughter began to panic and tell her she was certain, a huge flood was coming, she could hear it, Rosio didn't believe it at first. It was raining, sure but Rosio didn't hear anything but the normal sound of the rain. Then she saw the avalanche of water and mud cascading down the hillside. 

They grabbed their valuebles and pets, and ran for higher ground. 

IMG 2908Water from these hills collects to create the floods that hit Las Brisas de California.

     Luckily, their house was not damaged in the flood. The community of Las Brisas De California, founded around 1997, had learned not to build in the drainage path of the surrounding hillsides when previous years floods swept homes and stores down into the river below.

     However, that wasn't enough to save them from the terrible flood season of 2017. Communities lower down had flattened the drainage path, causing the floods to overflow the river banks and destroy the road that provided the only access to the community. 

    One particularly bad week of flooding left them without access to electricity, food, or potable water for an entire week, because the road was destroyed and the river was so high it was uncrossable. 

     When the rains ceased and the community became accessible, the water trucks the community had always relied on to come and sell them water, along with public transit, never came back. They now had to walk an hour to Chosica to purchase and basic supplies and then carry it back. 

     MEDLIFE went to visit Las Brisas de California while surveying communities to see how we could help after the flooding, and decided to get in touch with the water trucks ourselves, and to pay them to bring water up to this community. They agreed, and Las Brisas finally got water after over a week with no access. 

     Although tap water has been restored to the parts of the city connected to the municipal water system, many communities that rely on water trucks to bring them water, like Las Brisas and most of the commmunities MEDLIFE works in, remain thirsty and unserviced. 

     We be returning the following week to bring a Mobile Clinic to Las Brisas, after water and food, residents told what they needed most was medicine. 

IMG 2886MEDLIFE staff coordinates with community members to bring a clinic the following week.

March 7, 2017 2:01 PM

Bibi's House Completed in Tanzania

Written by Jake Kincaid

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     Marangu is a lush green rural Tanzanian town tucked in the shadows of the mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro. MEDLIFE conducted clinics there in 2016. Many of the houses were very poorly constructed and offered little shelter from monsoons.

     One particular case was brought to our attention when during a mobile clinic, an 84 year-old woman wrapped in colorful cloth came in named Elianasia, nicknamed Bibi, and asked us for help with her bathroom.

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     MEDLIFE staff followed her through the jungle to see her bathroom. It was hard for Elianasia to walk so far, her leg was causing her pain. She lived all alone, all of her children had gone seperate ways and were not caring for her. Her husband died tragically in 1962. When staff saw the rest of her house, they were surprised she was only asking for a bathroom.

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     Her kitchen was a fireplace sheltered by some wood poles and tattered rags, the bathroom was a hole in the ground covered by a small wooden board, which was being slowly devoured by ants and appeared it may collapse into the hole next time it was used. She did not have a room anywhere that could provide shelter from the rain. During monsoon season, she slept on a wet bed and tried to cook in the rain. 

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      "I will be very happy if you can provide for me a house where I can stay," said Elianasia. "I am praying for you, so that god may bless you in everything that you do, thank you very much." 

In 2017 the project was completed, thanks to a generous donation from Goodlife Travels.

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 MEDLIFE founder and CEO Nick Ellis, MEDprograms director Angie Vidal, and MEDLIFE Tanzania Director Neema Lyimo visited and found Bibi living happily in her new home.

Water access is an issue that communities around Lima continue to face. Development in the slums of Lima happens backwards, in that people move in and then utilities like electricity and water are installed, often times taking years to get a steady access.

The best option in Lima for water is connecting to SEDPAL, the city’s water system, however, many of the communities MEDLIFE works with lack the property rights and thus the legal designation as communities and are not eligible for water from SEDPAL. Communities without access to the city water supply, rely on water tank trucks to visit and deliver water.

Without a steady supply, those living on the outskirts of Lima use tanks and barrels to store their water. Sometimes, the containers were used in the past to store non-potable water or chemicals. These containers also run the risk of contamination from bacteria as they are often not adequately sealed and reused without cleaning.

IMG 9905Tanks being used to store water in Ladera de Nueva Esperanza. The center tank was used to ship food additives originally.

People will buy water directly from the truck and fill in water tanks to use throughout the days between visits. Fabiolo Rosales, a resident of Nadine, lives at the top of hill of her community at the base of a wall built to keep settlements from spreading onto private property. When looking over the wall, she sees the wealthier districts of Lima with access to the city water supply and the occasional swimming pool dotting the cityscape.

“We buy our water for 25 soles and we pay much more than people living on the other side,” Rosales said.

Rosales experience is not uncommon. Buying water from the trucks can cost up to 12 times as much as public water utilities. Along with the money, there is the time spent waiting for a water truck to come and the labor of carrying the water back home. The poor truly pay the most for water.

IMG 9343Private water truck navigate the dirt streets of the hills to sell water to resisdents with no acess to public water.

The problem Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza faces is the road that leads to the community, is narrow and dangerous for the large water trucks to drive up, so often they do not. MEDLIFE worked to build a water reservoir for the community to safely store larger quantities of water between the infrequent visits of water trucks. Residents worry though, that during wet winter season, the truck will not be able to make it up the road.

IMG 9912The water reservoir in Laderas de Nueva Esperanza was completed in January 2017.

“The water truck doesn’t come here often. Sometimes we need to wait for two days starting at 5 am, all day long, waiting for the water truck to come,” Maria Salas, a resident and community leader in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza said.

The next step in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza is building a road. MEDLIFE aims to bring more stability in access to water in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza. With a water reservoir more water can be stored safely and for longer periods of time. A road would bring more frequent trips from water trucks as well as greater access to the community for other services.

 

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