Each group of volunteer affairs interns takes on a project of their choosing along with their personal projects. This group of year-long interns has chosen to do a project in a community MEDLIFE has never worked in before called Urucancha, located in the district of San Juan De Miraflores.
â€œIt’s really cool that we are taking it upon ourselves to be the first contact with Urucancha,â€ said Volunteer Affairs intern Leigh Cohen.
The community is the highest on the hillside. It is located on the other side of the same hill as La Molina, one of the wealthiest areas of Lima. A large wall runs the length of the hillside separating the two communities, physically dividing the hillside by social class.
This will be the first of many projects in the community. Urucancha had heard of MEDLIFE by word of mouth and reached out to Director of MEDprograms Carlos Benavides to see if MEDLIFE would do a project with them. Carlos promptly organized a night meeting.
The interns hiked up the hills through the mud and cold to meet with this new community. The trip had a profound effect on the group as a whole.
â€œIt was kind of like the climax of our internship, the enthusiasm, dedication, and perseverance of the people of Urucancha was unforgettable.â€ Leigh said. â€œWe really got to see the hardships the community faces every day.â€
They asked the community what they needed, and they responded by describing a host of problems they face in their daily lives, mainly due to the complete lack of infrastructure and city planning that is typical in the pueblos jovenes.
The whole community of 143 families share just one outhouse. This leads to poor sanitation, which causes a host of health problems. MEDLIFE is going to construct eight eco-toilets.
Although Urucancha has a community center, it is unusable because it is falling apart. MEDLIFE is going to renovate the community center so that the community has a space to gather. MEDLIFE is also going to hold educational workshops there in the future.
They have no access to health-care, if an accident or emergency occurs, they have a long and hazardous trip down the hillside to get any kind of medical care. So MEDLIFE is going to stock the community center with first aid supplies, that way, if something occurs, the few nurses who live in the community can at least provide first response care before getting the patient to a doctor.
In order to get water, community members have to hike far down the hill and carry water up to their homes. A primary objective of the project is to build a system to pump water up the hill to tanks in the community, so there is water available within the community of Urucancha.
Urucancha is located very high on the hillside, the only path that reaches it is so steep that several interns fell during the hike up. MEDLIFE is also going to build a staircase to make the commute easier.
The path passes through Urucancha’s garden, which has been planted with the Peruvian President’s favorite flower. The community maintains the tribute despite the lack of government support and the many socio-political forces that conspire to marginalize and physically separate Urucancha from the wealthier districts of Lima and a decent quality of life.
With such a lack of infrastructure and no outside support, life in Urucancha is a daily struggle. MEDLIFE is committed to working hand in hand with the community of Urucancha to improve their quality of life. This year’s intern project is the first step. They need to raise $11,500 to complete all of these improvements. Please help by donating here.