Student SLT Journal: Meet Franciely from University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras

My name is Franciely A. Contreras Piñeiro, a student at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus, and last summer, in July 2022, I got the chance to be part of a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip. I went to Lima, Perú, and learned several things from the mobile clinics and cherished every moment during my time there. I have never seen more colors without actually seeing them. Most of these pictures show what I’m trying to explain, colors of hope, growth, and mindfulness. First and foremost, it was a rewarding, evolving, and educational experience. As you help these people grow their communities, education, healthcare, and so much more, you yourself get to grow as a professional and human being in the process. I realized that chasing your dreams feels amazing, but having the opportunity to make an impact in other people’s lives and be part of a change in the world for the greater good is more than I could ever ask for.

The first feeling I got was blessings, two different types of blessings to be specific. The first was that I had the opportunity to give hope to these low-income communities. Seeing them happy made me happier than I have ever been in my life. But also, being part of something bigger than myself is more than I could ever imagine. The second type is the blessing of having, where I was able to acknowledge how we take for granted all the privileges we have, thinking that it is something that is supposed to be mandatory, while others are fighting for it. Meanwhile, others have to live day by day with no healthcare, and no access to roads to school or work.
As a volunteer, the first thing I was taught is that step one of helping others is starting to listen to them, and not make assumptions of what they need. I remember one of the leaders of the communities gave us a reality tour. They showed us that they dream of finishing a sports field where every kid can have a space to play safely and have a lovely childhood. His exact words were: “It is our dream that the six human settlements can have a sports field so that the children can be distracted and not be locked in their houses.” They also talked about the necessity of building roads with access so they can go by car to school, as it takes them 1 hour of walking to get to the road and get in a car for half an hour more.

It was an enhancing experience helping in the development of stairs. Also, watching the professional healthcare workers helping every step of the way in the Mobile Clinics. At the same time, we got to know their culture and the beautiful kids, adults, and elders of each community we visited. On the other hand, helping with the planting and nature-spreading project was one of my favorite parts.

Lastly, I wanted to share one of my writings and thoughts while sitting on the bus on my way to the communities:

Spanish –

“Llena de tristeza, pero también alegría. Alegría llena de valentía acompañada de un trago amargo. Ese trago que le añaden fuerzas y felicidad en pedazos. Esos pedazos de esperanza que atraen los mejores recuerdos.”

English –

“Full of sadness, but also joy. Joy full of courage accompanied by a bitter drink. That drink that adds strength and happiness to pieces. Those pieces of hope that attract the best memories.”

This personal writing is full of melancholy, joy, and hope of how I personally felt during this period of time in the mobile clinics. Ending this rollercoaster of learning, emotions, and contributing to Moving Mountains with MEDLIFE, I cannot wait to be part of the next Service Learning Trip.


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.