From the Amazon jungle to the concrete jungle: Cantagallo


In the old district of Rimac in Lima, which is cut through by the Rimac River, the “Shipibos” (a community from the Amazon jungle) have found a place to live.

More than 10 years ago, Cantagallo was used as a landfill for those who lived in surrounding districts — nobody would have ever thought to live there. Years later, in 2001, approximately 15 families from the Shipibo community arrived in Lima from the Amazon to participate in protests against the ruling government at the time.


Lacking the means to return to their homeland and thinking of finding a better future for their children, they found the uninhabited land that seemed to closely resemble the banks of the Rimac River and other rivers in their homeland of the Amazon. Little by little, more families settled and eventually they created the Association of Shipibo Artisan Residents in Lima (Ashirel).


Living in the capital has a very strong impact on the Shipibo families, especially considering that they live in a desolate area of Lima that is very different from the damp jungle. However, the families of Cantagallo continue to maintain their customs and traditions from their native region in the Amazon. Additionally, they have created a fusion of cultures that has proven to be an alluring attraction for tourists, who buy their crafts.


Creating necklaces, bows and arrows and even a small organic garden where they grow fruits and herbs from the jungle, the Shipibo people have transformed Cantagallo into a safe haven for all Shipibos who are trying to find their place in the concrete jungle that is Lima. Currently, 300 Shipibo people live in Cantagallo.


Although this community is only minutes away from Peru’s central government, it still lacks basic services such as water, electricity and sewage.

MEDLIFE is currently working to integrate this community into our Mobile Clinics and development projects.


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.