Books & Movies To Help You Prep For Your SLT

Before you embark on your Service Learning Trip journey, it is important to first educate yourself on the environment in which you will be working. For anyone who has not experienced poverty firsthand, it may be hard to fully understand what it is you will be entering into.

To help you get started on learning more about low-income communities and the struggles they face, we have compiled a list of books and documentaries that can provide you with a broader perspective of poverty.


  1. “When Helping Hurts”by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert: This book is a must-read for anyone considering volunteering or working in the development sector. It provides practical advice on avoiding harm and promoting sustainable change through community-led approaches.
  2. “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: This book highlights the challenges faced by women and girls in the developing world and the incredible work being done by activists and organizations to empower them. It’s a powerful reminder of the importance of gender equality and the impact it can have on communities.
  3. “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver: This novel tells the story of a missionary family that moves to the Congo in the 1960s. It’s a rich and nuanced portrayal of the complexities of cross-cultural interactions and the impact of imperialism and colonialism on African nations.


  1. Living on One Dollar (2013) – This documentary follows four friends trying to survive on just $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala. An unimaginable reality for most young Americans, the challenges they face are real and plague over 1.1 billion people around the world.
  2. Poverty, Inc. (2014) – This documentary explores the impact of international aid and its unintended consequences on the developing world and looks into the root causes of poverty.
  3. Bending the Arc (2017) – This documentary follows a group of ambitious advocates whose mission to save lives in Haiti turns into a global fight for health care and justice.

These documentaries are available for free on Youtube. We highly recommend looking into these resources, as well as doing your own research about the area you will be volunteering in.

Looking to begin your MEDLIFE journey? Join or start a MEDLIFE Chapter today!


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.