Ecuador Intern Journal: Amrita

Ecuador Summer Intern Amrita Athwal is now back in her hometown of San Diego, California after her eight weeks abroad working with MEDLIFE. Before she left, she wrote about her experience and the impact it made on her:

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On our first day of work we spent nearly an entire day on a bus! It took four hours from Riobamba to AmritaJournal2Quito to pick up the students from the airport and then another seven hours from Quito to Tena. Along the way I encountered some of the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen. Working with MEDLIFE for three years now, I thought I knew the ins and outs of this organization and exactly what to expect while working out here. However, I had only experienced working with MEDLIFE in Peru and had never visited Ecuador. After getting to Tena I was so thankful to be placed in such a gorgeous country and to be given the opportunity to experience a new style of life. Every person that we met treated us with such compassion and kindness. The patients were so grateful to have us working in their community. Tena is very small, and the communities we visited were consequentially smaller than what I had expected given my previous experience in Peru. However, this wasn’t a bad thing; it gave the clinics a much more personal touch and I could really feel the impact of our aid. The local authorities were so grateful in one particular community that they actually invited our entire clinic over for dinner— that was an experience that I will never forget. They shook all of our hands and gave awards to students who demonstrated exceptional work.

AmritaJournal3Both in Tena and Riobamba my favorite aspect about the Mobile Clinics was surprisingly not the health services provided, but the hygiene projects we carried out. For several days I volunteered to chaperone the students and worked alongside them as we toiled under the beating sun to build new bathrooms for the communities. Being from Southern California, I acknowledge that I come from a privileged lifestyle and am not used to the strenuous labor needed to mix cement and sift through sand to build a bathroom with my own two hands. Yet, somehow I did it and loved every moment of it.

In Tena there was an elderly woman with her nose completely deteriorated and discolored. I talked to her and learned that she had nose cancer for eight months now and none of her children would take care of her. This had to have been one of the most emotional moments for me — to see someone in such extreme pain not have access to any sort of help. My heart went out to her, but I was so happy to be a part of an organization that was able to actually do something for her. She saw all the doctors and shortly after was admitted to the hospital for treatment. Just helping that one person made me feel like I was actually doing something, and that somehow, I made a difference in the world.

Overall, I can honestly say that I have loved every moment of my eight weeks in this country. My involvement with MEDLIFE will continue as I resume the position of Student Advisory Board West Coast chair, and I’m very excited for all the future impact I can make. I am now fully aware of exactly what is going on in both Peru and Ecuador, and cannot wait to come back here. My heart is and always will be in the beautiful country of Ecuador.


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.