Intern Journal: Lauren St. George

Water. Such a basic and common thing in my life that I never stopped to think, ‘what my life would be like without easy access to clean water’? Clean, safe water for cleaning, cooking, drinking, and so many other uses is immediately at our fingertips as Americans that it easily becomes taken for granted. 

When I went on a MEDLIFE trip nearly three years ago, I must admit that I was much more selfish than I am now. The trip for me was going to be a cool experience– I could travel and shadow some doctors so that I could get in a fun, international experience while also building my resume. My time in Lima that winter really changed the perspective I had of my world and allowed me to have tremendous personal growth the past three years. (Which ultimately led me to this internship with MEDLIFE) For me, this change came about very clearly during my reality tour on the second day of my volunteer trip.


When walking through the communities and taking photos, we saw many appalling things, including water being distributed in retired chemical barrels. Some of the people who sold these barrels to the communities had not even taken the time to fully peel off the skull-and-crossbones stickers on the side, which were meant to warn the user that the contents were toxic. I kept thinking, ‘people actually drink from these??’


This was the most shocking sight I had ever seen, and it made me kept thinking ‘why’? Why are these people drinking from these barrels? Why are they in such a circumstance that no other option is available? Why are the people not educated enough to know they are probably poisoning themselves by using these barrels? WHY DOESN’T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING TO HELP??? We kept walking a ways and stopped to talk to a gentleman standing by an outdoor water faucet. He was explaining that the faucet supplied them with clean water, and was recently put in. After talking with the man a while longer, he shared the information that it had cost about $500 US dollars to install this faucet. 

374-5This hit me hard. Why? Because previously that month I had bought a pair of boots that I had been eyeing for over a year. These boots were beautiful! Brown leather, handmade, and way too expensive. It made me sick to realize that I had just bought a pair of shoes that cost the same as putting in that water faucet. This is when the self-reflection started. I started to question everything I was doing with my life and why I was doing it. Why do I think it is okay to spend money on unnecessary objects when people here can’t even have water that is safe? What do I expect out of my life? Why do I want to be a doctor? Why am I here? And eventually, what can I do to help? This moment was bittersweet for me because I then knew that I could not go home and get on with my life. I could not forget what I had seen here. It would have been easy to go back and move on without MEDLIFE, but that was not possible for me.

Three years later, here I am! An intern with MEDLIFE and someone who has a passion for public health and helping underserved communities. That moment in Pamplona Alta changed my life because I know I would not be here without it. I have had the most amazing experience here with MEDLIFE so far and I cannot wait to continue working to make a difference.



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.