Meet the Patient: Pompinchu

378-1-PompinchuWhat do a soccer goalie in a giant spider costume and three guys dressed in clownish overalls have in common?

Pikachu, the giant yellow mouse-like creature from Pokemon, is yelling at all four of them. They are engaged in a serious slapstick disagreement, and Pikachu is not happy. The argument escalates, and before long, Pikachu is whirling around the stage in a white cloud beating them all senseless with a sack of flour. 

Alfonso Mendoza, the famous Peruvian comic in the Pikachu costume better known as Pompinchu, is well known for such antics- but that was in 2013. These days, Mendoza can’t even walk without the help of a walker- far less play soccer in a Pikachu costume.

In 2014 Mendoza was in a car accident while traveling for his work where he fractured his femoral neck. His career came to a halt. He also has osteoporosis, which made the injury more severe while drastically diminishing his body’s ability to heal. Prior to his accident last year, Mendoza was in another accident nearly 23 years ago where he broke his femur and received an operation to replace it with a metal plate. His prior injury coupled with his osteoporosis has left Mendoza nearly unable to walk and vulnerable to future injuries. 


In 2015, Mendoza works security from a chair in front of a municipal building in Villa Maria- he hasn’t been on television in months and when he did go, it didn’t pay much. He’s barely scraping by.

“My work is making art, no? To rile up the public.” Mendoza said. “But now I am not able to give much, to do much.” Mendoza still gets out, tells jokes and sells candy a couple days a week at on the street. One video posted online shows him telling a joke in the park about the pain he feels in his walker from so much standing.

“I always love to do this work, to tell jokes,” Mendoza said. But he laments that the amount of walking and standing required for this work is becoming more and more difficult. “At least here I can work while sitting,” he said. 

378-3-PompinchuHe is only 44 years old, and expected to be able to work in comedy for many more years, but his options narrowed quickly and unexpectedly. He lives with family now in a house in the hills of Villa Maria where he must struggle up a steep hill of dirt and loose rock to get home daily. This walk is very dangerous when it rains, and a fall could have serious consequences for someone with osteoporosis. 

Mendoza’s fame is such that the tv news program Al Sexto Dia ran two specials devoting 30 minutes of airtime to detailing “el drama de Pompinchu”. At the end of the program they provide a number to call and ask the audience for donations. Mendoza was hopeful- but in the end he didn’t get the help he needed. 

The medical insurance provided by his job with municipality is now going to pay for an operation that will greatly reduce his constant pain and allow him to continue to walk with a walker, which likely wouldn’t have continued to be possible otherwise. MEDLIFE is assisting him with a general checkup to prepare him for the operation.

However, the steep walk up to Mendoza’s house will remain a daily struggle and a serious hazard. MEDLIFE is working with the community of Paraíso to build a staircase so Mendoza, along with several other families can have safe access to their homes, and so that Mendoza can avoid another life-altering accident.

Now, it is up to the community to engage with MEDLIFE to make it happen. This Is MEDLIFE’s first project in Paraíso and we cannot move forward without the support of the community.

Mendoza dreams of one day starting a traveling circus and taking it on tour throughout Peru, perhaps he still can.


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.