A Sandwich Cart for Natalie

          In early August of 2016, MEDLIFE was working in Pamplona Alta on one of our final projects of clinic season. We had just finished building a staircase for the community and a ramp for MEDLIFE patient Jorge Sanchez.  We inaugurated both projects with balloons and a delicious meal cooked for us by the community. Just as were were ready to get on the bus and head home, Carlos Benavides, director of MED Programs Peru approached our intern group.  He said there was someone who wanted to talk to us.  A woman stepped forward with her young child and began telling her story to our group.

          Cristian is seven years old and lives with his mum and sister Ciara in a house borrowed from his aunt in Pamplona Alta.  A few years ago Cristian’s mum, Natalie, was working selling street food and sugar cane drinks.  In Peru, street vendors often use a machine to crush and juice the sugar cane freshly on the street.  Cristian was playing with the machine whilst Natalie was attending to a customer.  His mother didn’t notice until it was too late and she heard her child screaming.  Cristian had managed to get his hand caught in the machine.  Natalie took Cristian to the hospital immediately, but there was too much damage done to save his hand.

13909282 1162134287158945 3663188147760682588 oSome of the summer interns with Crisitan and his mum, Natalie.

          Over the next few months, Natalie and her husband were put under a lot of financial pressure to be able to afford the medication Cristian needed for his treatment.  Natalie lost her machine and her livelihood after the accident, so she took up a job cleaning to help with the medical expenses.  She was out of the house for days, and didn’t get back until it was dark. “I wanted to try to get into the SIS system,” Natalie explained. “But it was too difficult, I don’t have much of an education and I couldn’t work out the complexities of it.”  

         In March of this year, her husband left her for another woman; she hasn’t received any financial support or even been in contact with him since then.  Natalie is now having to support herself and her two children alone on just the s/ 200 ($60) she earns from cleaning.  She explained to us that it was getting to a point where she didn’t know what to do. “I don’t have a home, I barely have an income and it is getting to a point where I don’t know how long I’ll be able to support my family for.”  She wanted to be able to save up to afford a surgery for her son but was in an impossible situation as she couldn’t see anyway to support her children. She didn’t have the time to be home and physically care for them, and despite pouring most of her time into work, she was still coming up short financially. 

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          Carlos turned to Natalie and told her we would help.  We would help get her and her children into the healthcare system and from there we would approach the next issues step by step.  This is exactly what we have been doing over the past few months.  A few weeks ago, we decided to fundraise to buy Natalie a sandwich card that would enable her to work closer to home, get a steady income and still be at home to support her family.

          For Natalie, this sandwich cart would be the first step in creating a new life for her and her children.  Natalie told us that after her husband left her, she felt useless and insignificant because she didn’t have an education and hadn’t done anything with her life.  No one should ever have to feel like that and we want to empower Natalie and show her that being the mother of two amazing, brave children like Cristian and Ciara is in itself a huge achievement.  



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.