Last week, three members of the MEDVIDA Ecuador team, Martha Chicaiza, Maria Chavez and Luis Cartagena, came to visit our office in Peru and get a taste of fieldwork in the shantytowns outside Lima. For Maria and Luis, it was their first visit to Lima and the first time they experienced in person the work that MEDLIFE does here. What did they think?
“Before my visit, I thought Lima would be nicer,” said Luis. “But I was stunned when I saw the amount of poverty in Pamplona, and people who didn’t have basic services, in comparison to the city of Lima. I can’t stop thinking about the injustice of what I saw.”
Though the MEDLIFE office in Riobamba, a rural region of Ecuador, deals with the same issues of poverty and lack of health care, they manifest themselves in different ways. Luis said the most surprising difference for him was the imbalance in living conditions in different social classes in Lima. He says the rural poor that he sees in Ecuador generally have a better quality of life than those in the city. “And if poverty exists in Lima it is because of the land invasions, because where people come to take possession of the land, it’s all rocks where nothing can grow, and so living from agriculture is impossible and they go to work in the city,” he said. In Ecuador, emigration to large cities for job opportunities has also become a widespread trend, though the cities do not experience the kind of land invasions seen in Lima.
Because the fieldwork in each location of MEDLIFE is built on listening to the needs of the local community, a lot can be learned from sharing experiences and ideas between them. The Ecuador team agreed that the visit to Lima was an educational and memorable experience. “The visit inspired me to work even harder to improve conditions with MEDLIFE,” said Luis. “I’ll always remember the times I shared with MEDLIFE colleagues and the things I learned thanks to the tour.”