Time is running out to raise $30,000 in support of Union Santa Fe as they build a retention wall in effort to get Land Title - which would provide the community with government resources to help build roads, schools, sanitation systems, and more. With a limited time frame, MEDLIFE is working day in and day out to reach our goal - but we can’t do it without you.

With your support, the MEDLIFE Movement can continue the fight to free Union Santa Fe from the constraints of poverty. All donations and funds raised to help Union Santa Fe get Land Title can be made to the MEDLIFE Project Fund. Please add a note to your donation that the money is for the Union Santa Fe Land Title.

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The Issue

MEDLIFE has worked side by side with the community of Union Santa Fe for years. Building staircases, working with the municipality to provide electricity, supporting childhood education in the area, providing free quality healthcare at Mobile Clinics, and more - all in support of the ultimate goal to obtain Land Title. And right now the community is closer than ever to gaining their Land Titles, as the government has given them the opportunity if they complete certain community development projects in the next 2 months.

While in many parts of the world securing land rights is not a major issue, it is a luxury for much of the world’s poor population. In rural areas like the southern communities of Lima, land is an essential means to sustain the community’s livelihood. Access to land is important for household welfare, economic growth, and reduction of poverty.

To eventually leave the constraints of poverty, communities like Union Santa Fe need access to basic resources mentioned previously (sanitation systems, water, roads, etc), which are accessible through the government when they obtain Land Title. But, there is a major contradiction. In order to obtain Land Title, they must already have those basic resources. In other words, Union Santa Fe lacks the basic resources to build things like roads, schools, sanitation systems, and retention walls, that are needed to obtain Land Title. But in order to tap into government resources that would provide them these things, they already need to have those Land Titles.

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The Solution: $30,000

One of the largest obstacles facing the community is building a $30,000 retention wall in the next 2 months. This retention wall, and the granting of Land Title, would also be big steps in the approval of construction of our MED Center. Unfortunately, if the retention wall isn’t complete, the offer will be rescinded and the community will be forced to start their Land Title process from scratch, and we will be stepping backward with work on the MED Center as well.

What does starting from scratch really mean? We are not 100% sure but we do know we must push ahead NOW. The Peruvian government can be challenging to gain commitment from for ‘what happens if’ scenarios, however the Union Santa Fe community and MEDLIFE have worked diligently over the years to foster positive interactions and collaboration. Again, our focus is we need to work as hard as possible as the MEDLIFE Movement, to fundraise $30,000 in the next few months to make sure we are doing everything in our power to support Union Santa Fe.

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How You Can Help

While this task may seem daunting, if everyone works together it is certainly attainable. But we need you. We’re calling on each Chapter to fundraise at least $200 or organize a group of 50 students on a Lima Service Learning Trip this Spring in support of our efforts.

Additionally, we encourage you to support our efforts by sharing on social media and asking friends and family to donate. Every contribution helps. Join the MEDLIFE Movement to create a world free from the constraints of poverty - starting with the community of Union Santa Fe!

To donate in support of Union Santa Fe, visit our website donation page.

"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.  

On Thursday, April 5th 2018, the MEDLIFE Cusco team and a group volunteers representing four United States universities conducted a mobile medical clinic in the community of Ccasacancha, about an hour and a half outside of the city of Cusco, in the district of Ancahuasi. Although this clinic was the first conducted in Ancahuasi in 2018, MEDLIFE has been actively working within the surrounding communities for an over a year. What’s more, multiple patients in MEDLIFE’s atient follow-up program live within or nearby Ccasacancha. Towards the end of the day, as the clinic was winding down, Carmen, one of our MEDprograms nurses, asked me and a volunteer to accompany her in making a visit to one such patient and his family: Juan José.

    Juan José is a thirteen year-old boy who lives in Ccasacancha with his parents and five siblings. Although Juan José was born a healthy boy, he sustained serious burns on his face, neck, and chest from an accident when he was four years old. When MEDLIFE first met Juan José and his family at a mobile medical clinic in 2017, the scar that had formed left him partially disfigured and had contracted to the extent that it prohibited him from being able to fully turn his head. The MEDLIFE doctor recommended that Juan José undergo a Z-plasty scar revision surgery, in which the surgeon would re-open the scar sufficiently for Juan José to regain mobility in his neck. However, it was not until Carmen made a visit to Juan José’s home that MEDLIFE discovered the true extent of the challenges he was facing.

    Initially, Juan José’s father refused to let Carmen enter his family’s house or enroll his son into MEDLIFE’s patient follow-up program. However, Carmen persisted and continued to make periodic visits to Juan José’s house, offering to help him and his family.

    After the fourth visit, Carmen was invited inside. Upon entering the house, she discovered that the family was living in destitute conditions and that nearly all of the family members suffered from chronic malnutrition. A big reason for this, Carmen found, was that Juan José’s father was an alcoholic and unemployed. This meant that the only income the family could rely on came from Juan José’s mother, who worked as a farmhand in an artichoke farm in the district of Zurite. The family’s financial situation had been made even more difficult when Juan José’s seventeen year-old sister, Ana Beatriz, found that she was pregnant. It was then that Carmen knew that MEDLIFE needed to do more than just ensure that Juan José received the surgery he needed. If Juan José was going to have a successful recuperation after his surgery, and his sister give birth to a healthy baby, the entire family’s living situation would need to be drastically improved.

     After meeting Juan José and gaining his parents’ trust, MEDLIFE’s Cusco nurses, Carmen and Lis, made visits to the family, checking up on how they were doing, providing the family with basic medications, and ensuring Ana Beatriz received the prenatal care she needed. However, on the day of our mobile clinic, Carmen and Lis wanted to do more than make another routine visit, they wanted to give the volunteers and myself a firsthand look at the difficulties Juan José and his family were truly facing, and ask for help.

    As Cynthia, a volunteer from Vermont Tech, and I followed Carmen down a dirt road leading away from our mobile clinic location, it was not long before Juan José’s house came into site. Juan José’s family lives in a house typical of the region: two small buildings, a kitchen and a storeroom/bedroom, made out of adobe bricks. Both buildings face each other and are and surrounded by a corrugated metal fence. When we arrived, Ana Beatriz opened the door and ushered us inside. She told us that both parents were currently out of the house but she and Juan José were both home. As I entered the house, I could see Juan José standing in the yard behind his sister, timid at first, but beginning to smile as he saw Carmen.

     As Carmen greeted the two children in the house, she urged Cynthia and I to examine the conditions in which Juan José and his family lived. When we first entered the kitchen, Cynthia and I were blinded by the darkness inside. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness we could make out pots and pans placed on both the dirt floor, as well as atop a small, adobe stove, completely devoid of any stovepipe or ventilation. We turned our heads upward and found the entire kitchen ceiling caked with black tar from years of smoke filling the kitchen during mealtimes.

    After seeing the kitchen, we walked across the yard to the family’s storeroom/bedroom. We climbed the wooden steps to the second floor where the entire family slept in one room. Inside we saw two large beds piled high with blankets and surrounded by clothes scattered on the floor. The walls and ceiling had been covered in a white plastic tarp to prevent water from leaking into the bedroom. While inside, Carmen pointed out to us that the beds that the family slept on were not mattresses, but large pieces of yellow foam set on top of wood pallets. Upon leaving the bedroom we began to truly comprehend scope of the challenges that Juan José and his family were facing at home.

      Congregating back in the yard, Carmen indicated that Juan José and his family would greatly benefit from having their house renovated with shelves, paved floors, waterproof roofing and a new ventilated and fuel efficient stove. These improvements would not only ensure that Juan José has a safe and clean environment in which to recuperate, but that the rest of his family would enjoy a higher quality of life at home as well. Carmen and Cynthia shared a tearful moment together as they discussed what could be done for Juan José’s family.

     Since that day at Juan José’s house, the new MEDLIFE chapter at Vermont Tech has been raising money to help Juan José’s family, and Carmen and Lis have continued to support the family through routine visits. Both nurses have continued to accompany Ana Beatriz to her prenatal doctor appointments and have been thinking of ways to further improve Juan José’s family’s situation. The two have even been talking to the family about the possibility of installing a family greenhouse, in addition to their much needed home renovations, in order to provide a means to grow healthy fruits and vegetables, and thus combat malnutrition. Back in the United States, Cynthia and the rest of the Vermont Tech chapter have already raised over $500 and hope to raise more in the near future to go towards extra costs associated with Juan José’s surgery and his house renovation. Through the continued collaboration between MEDLIFE staff and the MEDLIFE chapter at Vermont Tech, the goal of getting Juan José the surgery he needs and supporting his family with a safe home is already on its way to becoming a reality.

We are proud to present a new MEDLIFE project in Kilimanjaro! Thanks to the hard work of our MEDLIFE team we were able to make much-needed improvements to Kilema Primary School, a school that will benefit more than 200 students and teachers in the community of Kilema. 

Kilema, located in Marangu (Moshi), is a community of just over 20,000 inhabitants. During a mobile clinic nearby, the director of the local school petitioned for MEDLIFE's support in order to construct new school bathrooms, as well as renovate the exterior of the classrooms, which had been flooded during heavy seasonal rains. The flooding not only interrupted classes but also damaged the rooms and put the health of the children at risk. The toilets being used at the school presented another health risk, as they were dirty and lacked a proper drainage system. Many children had even had stomach complications and were still afraid to use the bathroom during school hours.

unnamedOriginally, the bathrooms did not have toilets, running water, and some of the stalls lacked doors

For this project, MEDLIFE renovated the toilets, repaired the administrative offices, acquired a water tank for the bathrooms, painted the classrooms and constructed a water drainage system so that rainwater would not flood the school in the future. Students, teachers, and parents all participated in the renovations. After everything was completed, the community was very happy with all the improvements that were made!

unnamed 8The new bathrooms have proper doors, new toilets, and water tank to supply them with water. Also, new bathrooms for the teachers were built, so kids have their own bathrooms.

unnamed 2Classrooms were painted and a drainage system was built to avoid future flooding.

unnamed 3A thank-you letter was sent to our Tanzania team from the Kilema Primary School!

 

 

Secsencalla, a community located within the district of Andahualiyas in the province of Quispicanchis, is located one hour outside the city of Cusco. It is a rural community of approximately 100 families, most of whom dedicate themselves to cultivating and harvesting maize. Each family in Secsencalla has a different background, but the story of Victoria's family has been one of the most impactful. 

"There is a family living in extreme poverty," said Dula, the health coordinator in Secsencalla who helps us select the families that will benefit from our Healthy Homes program. "They do not have anyone else, and they really need you." Without hesitation, we went to visit the aforementioned house.

 1The space they used as a kitchen.

When we visited Victoria's house we were surprised by the conditions in which she lived. The walls of the improvised kitchen were almost completely black with soot, making it difficult to see inside. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark, we could see how the smoke that emanated from the unventilated wood burning stove made Eberth, Victoria's oldest son, cough while he was cooking. Next to the stove, a half dozen guinea pigs were kept in a feces-filled pen, shrieking desperately at the lack of air.

3The room shared by Victoria and her children.

The main bedroom was located in another building, where Victoria and her three children shared a single sleeping space. A soaking wet plastic tarp hung loosely from the ceiling, placed there by Victoria in a futile attempt to keep Cusco's seasonal rains from seeping into the house. The damp adobe walls seemed ready to give way at any moment and the roof, already leaking profusely, appeared to be on the verge of collapse. It was evident that we had to do something.

Victoria has been a widow for the past two years. During this time she has cared for her daughter and the two older children of her deceased husband, whom she cares for as her own. To provide for her family she works a variety of odd jobs, from laboring in the fields to washing clothes and loading construction material. Victoria is a woman of surprising strength who, despite being placed in a difficult situation replete with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, works to overcome them in order to give her children a decent life. 

4The space that was used as a warehouse and that we rebuilt to be a new, more adequate and healthy kitchen.

The damp adobe walls seemed ready to give way at any moment and the roof, already leaking profusely, appeared to be on the verge of collapse. It was evident that we had to do something. Normally, the Healthy Homes program involves the construction of a new fuel-efficient stove, the improvement and relocation of bedrooms, and the construction of shelves that help with home organization (you can read more about the Healthy Homes program in this blog.) In the case of Victoria, we also rebuilt the roof in its entirety, as well as relocated the kitchen to a new, properly ventilated space. Thanks to the work of our volunteers from UPR - Rio Piedras, UPR - Cayey, and the University of Florida, we also managed to paint Victoria's new kitchen and bedroom in order to give her newly renovated home an orderly and safe look. 

Look at the photos of our volunteers working below:

5Victoria's new kitchen! It has a window that allows better ventilation and the improved stove does not let smoke escape into the kitchen, so her children will not have health problems.

6This room was completely renovated. The roof was entirely rebuilt utilizing traditional building techniques to protect against frequent seasonal rains.

7We also built shelves to help with kitchen organization. These shelves are very efficient and inexpensive to build.The idea is that families like Victoria's can build them themselves. Each box has the value of S/.1 (around $ 0.30 cents) and they look great!

8Our volunteers all took a final photo with Victoria and her younger daughter, Flor, who helped us throughout the workday and even shared a bit of corn from their harvest! Thank you, Victoria, for welcoming us into your home!

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