MEDLIFE Gives Patient Something to Smile About

yovannaDr. Angie Vidal (left) and Yovana Taipe

When we first met Yovana Taipe at a Mobile Clinic in Villa El Salvador, she seemed shy and serious, reluctant to smile. And when she reached the dentist chair, we found out why; all of her front teeth had rotten and fallen out.

This level of damage would require more than the dentist could provide in one day at the clinic, so Yovana entered our patient follow-up program, with MEDLIFE dentist Angie Vidal overseeing her care. Angie performed multiple cleanings, extractions, fillings, crowns, root canals and created prostheses. Over the course of several visits, she developed a close relationship with Yovana, and ended up treating her children as well. “She’s a person who has suffered a lot in her life,” says Angie. “As I got to know her better, I was always impressed by how many obstacles she had overcome.”

Yovana says she can’t thank Angie enough. “She gave me my smile back,” she says. “She gave me my life back.” Her dental problems had left a severe dent in her self-esteem, making it more difficult to do normal activities and get a job.

Yovana lives with her two younger children, 7-year old Maricielo and 16-year old Julio, in a cramped quarter of her mother’s house in Villa El Salvador. After leaving an abusive marriage, she lacked the financial resources to provide the basic necessities for her family. She works cleaning houses when she can, and hopes to support her children through school in the hopes that they can become professionals someday. Between taking care of her kids and working, it was hard to find the time to stand in line at the public hospitals and get medical attention. After seeing the positive impact that the Mobile Clinic has had in her life, she’s taken an active role to coordinate future work with MEDLIFE in her community. The patient follow-up team will continue to support her and her family. 

She still worries about her childrens’ future, but now, she says, “I know that [MEDLIFE] will help me through this, and I am forever grateful for that.”


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.