Peru Intern Journal: Rachel

Rachel Goldberg came to us fresh out of the University of Virgina to intern with the Communications dept. of MEDLIFE in Lima, Peru for a full year. Now, after her first month on the job, she writes about her experience working in the field with our patient follow-up coordinator, Meri Lecaros:Rachel Journal header

Rachel Journal2When I came to Lima to start my year with MEDLIFE, I knew I would be dealing with a level of poverty that I had never seen before. But knowing something theoretically and experiencing it firsthand are two very different things, and in the short month I’ve been living in Lima, I have already learned a lot. As the communications intern, I came here with no background in medicine, but I discovered there is a lot more to MEDLIFE’s work. The problems we encounter every day in the field are part of a larger system of social and economic inequality that only gets worse over time. When you don’t have the basic resources, infrastructure and education, healthcare becomes much more complicated. I am always struck by the empathy of the MEDLIFE staff as they work to respond to the whole problem. Rachel Journal4

For the past few weeks, I’ve been going with Meri, MEDLIFE’s field nurse, to visit a patient named Eloy, an eight-year-old who was born with a heart problem that limits the flow of oxygen through his body and gives his skin a bluish tint. He needs an expensive operation that could save his life, but as I discovered when I visited, that isn’t his only problem. To reach his home, we first had to take a cramped combi, a small public transportation van, from the edge of town up into the hills until the bus couldn’t go any further, then climb up a steep and slippery dirt road until we reached another hill that looked like a pile of rocks. Eloy’s house was perched on top. His mother, Betsy, came out to greet us, picking her way through the rocks as Eloy followed, stopping every so often to sit down and catch his breath. Thankfully, MEDLIFE is now working on a new staircase project next to his house.

After noticing that Eloy was small for his age, Meri has been visiting each week with a bag full of nutritious food. But she wanted to find a more sustainable solution, something that would allow Betsy to provide for her children even when she wasn’t around. So I went with her as she talked to the president of the local comedor, or community kitchen, and worked out a deal: Betsy could help prepare food there, and in exchange take home meals for her and her children. As soon as it was agreed, Meri walked up to Betsy’s house to tell her to bring her pots and pans and get to work. We watched as Eloy, a quiet kid and a picky eater, sat down and devoured the menu of the day.

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As Meri said, “It feels good to know that we accomplished something today that will continue even if we leave some day.” I hope that I too will be able to make some kind of lasting change this year, however small it may be.


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.