Fleeing an uncertain future, Herminia was only 14 when she arrived from Huanuco. Her mother’s words were clear, “We have no money for you to study.” That was when Herminia decided to use her hard-earned savings to move to Lima and build a future in this chaotic city. 

Upon arrival, she sought out a distant aunt who gave her a job peeling potatoes at a market. The owner of the market, offered her a small room in his house, but his wife, full of jealousy, did everything possible to get Herminia out. Soon enough, Herminia was alone again and on the street. In an attempt to earn a little bit of money, Herminia bought a box of tomatoes and began selling them. She slept on the street for many weeks, until she could afford to buy a patch of cheap land in the hills. There, using some cardboard and old wood, Herminia built herself a house to keep her warm in the cold and wet Lima climate.

herminia3Herminia when we first met her in 2014.

Herminia met the father of her children one afternoon while working in the market. Although it wasn’t love at first sight, they began to rely on each other in hard times and grew stronger together. When her son was born, Herminia didn’t know whether to celebrate or mourn. She was making barely enough money to feed herself, let alone an extra mouth, but the thought of raising her own child was inspiration enough. Herminia decided to embrace this new challenge.

10 years have passed and Herminia remains living in poverty, but her determination to build a better life for her children meant that she could no longer remain the shy young woman who came from nothing. Herminia’s husband has since become the leader of their community, where six MEDLIFE staircases have been built. He and Herminia have worked day and night to help complete each and every one.

The fight for a better life did not simply end with the staircases, either. When she first moved to her community, the lack of electricity was a problem with no easy solution. Herminia worked tirelessly to learn about laws she had never heard of and rights she did not even know she had. The hard work ultimately paid off because, incredibly, Herminia managed to singlehandedly bring light and electricity to an entire community. 

Herminia talks to Janet, one of the MEDLIFE nurses, during a patient follow up visit.Herminia talks to Janet, one of the MEDLIFE nurses, during a patient follow up visit.

Herminia has since been entered into the MEDLIFE Patient Follow-Up program to treat the severe Rosacea on her face. Rosacea is a common acne-like skin condition that manifests itself in the form of redness of the face, an enlarged and bulbous nose, or tiny red pimples covering the nose and cheeks. Rosacea is a very bothersome and embarrassing condition for many adults, and, if left untreated, it can become much worse over time.

Although the condition is incurable, it is easily managed and controlled with prescription medication. Through our Patient Follow-Up Program, MEDLIFE has been able to provide Herminia with the ointment needed to treat her Rosacea. Now, thankfully, Herminia has one less inconvenience to worry about in her busy life. 


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.