Ecuador Intern Journal: Fostering Healthy Communities in Ecuador - MEDLIFE

Ecuador Intern Journal: Fostering Healthy Communities in Ecuador


In 2005, MEDLIFE began a mission to improve access to healthcare and build healthy communities in underserved areas of Latin America. Yet, our journey took a transformative turn as we delved deeper into the communities we served. We observed firsthand the numerous challenges these communities faced, influencing their health and well-being. This realization sparked a broader vision. We expanded our efforts beyond healthcare to include community development initiatives.

Rachel Eggleston is a MEDLIFE summer intern in Ecuador. Here’s her perspective on a community development project in Chimborazo:

1-1Today, my fellow interns JP, Meredith, and I embarked on a journey to Pull Manuel Laso, a rural village nestled in the Ecuadorian Andes. Our mission? To assess the progress of a MEDLIFE-sponsored bathroom construction project, a cornerstone in fostering healthy communities in the region. Starting our day at 7 am, we caught a taxi to the bus station. Subsequently, after a bus ride and a trip in a government vehicle, we reached our destination.

Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by Francisca Paguay, the school’s director. She eagerly guided us down a path to the construction site, offering us a panoramic view of the scenic landscape that characterizes rural Chimborazo. There, numerous community members paused their work to welcome us, demonstrating their enthusiasm to showcase the advancements made since Martha, MEDLIFE Ecuador’s Director of Operations, last visited. Their eagerness to share their progress highlighted the community’s commitment to this vital project.

Expanding Our Reach: Building Healthy Communities


Students from UC Berkeley and the University of Georgia began the construction with locals during their Service Learning Trip. They couldn’t finish before heading back to the U.S. Initially, the school lacked bathrooms, leaving children with no place to wash their hands. After the students’ departure, Pull Manuel Laso’s community pressed on with the work, supported by MEDLIFE funds.

MEDLIFE insists on local participation in these projects. This approach ensures maintenance and longevity post-MEDLIFE involvement. It also empowers the community. Locals take pride in their new bathroom, working tirelessly to complete it. Their efforts are key to fostering healthy communities.

Local residents gave us a tour, showing the progress. We then discussed the bathroom’s impact in a meeting. Community members, officials, and Martha highlighted the value of sanitation and teamwork. They stressed the need for continued efforts to enhance community health. Post-meeting, Sra. Paguay offered us breakfast in the school. This gave us a chance to learn more about local life and struggles. The breakfast was delightful, providing insights into Pull Manuel Laso’s daily life.

The bathroom is located right next to the schoolhouse. It houses three toilets, a urinal, and a handwashing station. Check out the pictures, courtesy of Meredith, our media intern here in Ecuador!

Reflections on the Impact

The bathroom project in Pull Manuel Laso was funded entirely by the contributions of the students from UC Berkeley and the University of Georgia. They participated in the May 21 – June 4 Service Learning Trip in Riobamba, Ecuador. Thank you to everyone who lent a hand in the project!