Intern Journal: Getting to Know La Florida and 27 de Diciembre

photo2Community members from La Florida smile for the camera during an educational workshop.

As I looked around the room lined with community members, a young girl smiled and caught my eye as she waved. This was 13-year-old Jennifer, a curious and friendly girl who lives in the community of La Florida. She came over and excitedly confirmed that yes, us interns would be coming to help build staircases with them, and yes, I had a cell phone number I could exchange with her. That community, along with the neighboring 27 de Diciembre, were meeting on a Friday night with MEDLIFE to discuss the beginning steps of working with us to get workshops, mobile clinics, and staircases in their community.

I met some residents of La Florida during my first full week in Lima, when a couple of students on a mobile clinic and I went with MEDLIFE Peru’s Director Carlos to meet the community for the first time. Despite the fact that the houses have been there from 8 to 20 plus years, the best groomed paths I could see were only crumbling rock “stairs.” The kids have no way to play as a normal kid should, and going anywhere away from their home in the hillside meant endless opportunities for serious injury. The women also mentioned frequently dropping the large jugs of drinking water, costing them money they don’t have. As Carlos explained MEDLIFE’s mission and work process, women produced cups of Coke for us to drink with them to inaugurate the occasion.

photo1I was struck by how lucky I was to be there. Carlos made sure I had a chance to talk with the women. I explained to them that I, along with Carlos and the other year-long MEDLIFE interns, would work side by side with the community throughout the entire year on various projects. This includes conducting health education workshops and discussions, and continuously evaluating the community’s needs. Even with my bad Spanish the women did not stop smiling or wanting to talk, and seemed genuinely enthusiastic at the prospect of working with a random young American women who did not even speak their language fluently.

As we left, a women named Angelique who knits clothes for a living gave me a bright red hat as a gift.

It was on my second visit to the community that I had met Jennifer. Another intern Hannah and I quickly became friends with her, and before she left she handed over a small book as a gift. That visit was to see the drawn plans of the communities, measure future staircases, and record preliminary data. It was also during this visit that Hannah and I had warm and friendly conversation with a couple women living there, both the same age as us.

As Carlos emphasized the importance of unity and cooperation to the group of assembled community members that Friday night, I thought about the potential reasons behind a community’s motivation. The list is endless, but participation and dedication of all community members can still be difficult. I am looking forward to getting to know the communities better, and to seeing this process of community mobilization and development continue.


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.