First Mobile Clinic in Esmeraldas Off to A Great Start!


The MEDLIFE team in Ecuador is off to a great start with our first-ever Mobile Clinic in Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Although we are just starting to build a presence in Esmeraldas, staff members on the ground noted that attendance at the clinic has been very high so far, with some patients walking an hour or more to arrive at the clinic sites. According to MEDLIFE Director Martha Chicaiza, the clinic on Tuesday was one of the busiest that she’s ever seen in all of Ecuador.

Students are also completing a staircase construction project at a site a bit outside of the city center. As we see in Lima, many of the communities surrounding Esmeraldas have also been built on steep inclines. Navigating the terrain is further complicated by the weather in Esmeraldas; the region experiences year-round tropical showers and flooding. In some cases, residents’ entire feet sink deep into the mud as they attempt the climb up to their homes.

Esmeraldas was considerably affected by the El Ni̱o events of the late 1990s, when mudslides caused explosions, fatalities, and environment damage due to ruptured pipe lines. Communities rebuilt slowly, and the tourism industry Рonce an important part of the economy Рis still recovering.

esmeraldas update1

MEDLIFE’s first staircase in this area is large, yet work began with a slow start on Monday due to heavy rains. On Tuesday, with ample sunshine, students and community members were able to make much greater progress mixing and setting the cement. We hope that the weather will allow us to continue to move forward, and complete the project by the end of the week.

About Esmeraldas

Esmeraldas is a port city located on the northwest coast of Ecuador. The city is home to the majority of the Afro-Ecuadorian population; the province is the most ethnically-diverse in the nation. The main exports are wood and agricultural resources, yet the establishment of Esmeraldas as Ecuador’s largest oil refinery has also turned it into an important commercial center. In a meeting with MEDLIFE staff members in November of 2012, residents of Esmeraldas reported drug abuse, pregnancy at a young age, and lack of access to medical care as issues that desperately need to be addressed.

For more information on the community of Esmeraldas, please read the blog from our first visit here.

The MEDLIFE McGill student group will be instagramming their experiences during the week here


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.