MEDLIFE Role Models: Meet Rosita Muñoz

51-1Wearing her characteristic black woolen ski hat even in the blistering heat of Lima summer, Rosita Muñoz purposefully ascends the steep hillside of Santa Cruz, an enormous bucket of cement firmly gripped in each hand. She passes the unwieldy bucket up to a neighbor and immediately turns to go back down and retrieve more. She is working tirelessly at finishing what will be the last of three staircases that have been inaugurated in Santa Cruz, where Rosita acts as a community leader. 

Santa Cruz is a small community of around 25, comprised mainly of young families who moved to Lima together from Huancayo when they learned there were large swathes of open land available outside the city. The small community sits at the top of a precipitous stretch of hillside where damp winters and dusty summers create a hazardous, accident-prone ascent for community members. Having learned of MEDLIFE’s staircase undertakings in other areas, Rosita approached Project Coordinator, Carlos Benavides, in July of 2011 and proposed that her burgeoning community be next to receive assistance.

51-2After several MEDLIFE staff members visited Santa Cruz, most were hesitant to undertake the project. Due to its daunting altitude and distance from any navigable roads below, carrying building materials was going to require a fortified and committed community. Thanks largely to the tenacious and determined spirit of Rosita, Santa Cruz presented MEDLIFE with just that. After waiting out the remaining weeks of an intractable winter, neighbors organized an impressive “cadena” or chain of workers who labored for days, bucket by bucket, to bring sand and water to the future site of their first staircase.

Rosita headed weekly meetings in Santa Cruz in the months leading up to the project, inspiring community members to participate and volunteer.

“I want my kids to have better opportunities than I did,” said the mother of three. “My own mom was a single mother and nothing was ever easy.”

During every stage of all three staircases, Rosa worked tirelessly, carrying buckets and rocks, mixing cement, positioning handrails, painting, and planting trees. The relatively young community now stands out against neighboring areas as a developed example of organization and initiative, its three bright red staircases striking and visible throughout Pamplona.

MEDLIFE now hopes to repay the persevering Rosita for all her hard work by helping her treat a painful kidney problem she has been suffering from for the past two years. The wrenching pain didn’t stop the community leader from sweating through hours of hard manual labor, and MEDLIFE is eager to help her manage the financial strain of managing her illness.


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.