Our first Mobile Clinic of the season marked another first for MEDLIFE — a clinic made up entirely of high school student volunteers! Over Thanksgiving week, 50 students and six parents from Dana Hills High School in Orange County, California joined us to volunteer in Lima. They may be young, but these students worked with endless enthusiasm and energy throughout their Mobile Clinic experience.
They didn’t let the language barrier stop them; when they took a break from working, you could always find the Dana Hills students playing with local kids. They especially had fun at the toothbrushing station, where they bonded with small children and came up with a song and dance to remind them of proper dental hygiene. The parents got involved too, some even using their own medical expertise to exchange ideas with the Peruvian doctors and help out at the clinic.
The Dana Hills students and parents also got their hands dirty building staircases in the Villa Maria de Triunfo district. Throughout the week, they worked on one stair project in Virgen de Cocharcas, and on Sunday they teamed up with community members from Laderas Nueva Esperanza to plant 80 trees at four different staircases.
When they finished, it was time to celebrate! MEDLIFE volunteers were guests of honor at an inauguration ceremony marking the completion of the staircase projects, as well as electricity legally coming to the community for the first time. The mayor of the Villa Maria district, Silvia Barrera, stopped by to check out the Mobile Clinic and preside over the inauguration ceremony. This was a huge event for the community, which had previously gone unrecognized by the municipal government. They marked the occasion with a band, speeches, traditional dances and of course, breaking bottles of champagne. The parents got to do the honors, together with the mayor. After meeting at the inauguration, the mayor invited MEDLIFE staff to her office later that week, where she expressed her interest in working together on projects in the future.
Looking back on their experience as the week came to a close, many of the students agreed that they were most impacted by the unexpected moments of connection that they experienced working with community members. Since they returned to the US, both students and parents have been planning ways to support future MEDLIFE community development projects.
Thanks to Dana Hills High for an exciting start to what’s sure to be another great Mobile Clinic season!
For more photos, check out the Facebook album.