The 50:50 Campaign is MEDLIFE’s online fundraising tool that allows students to raise money towards their participation fees and travel grants. Stephanie Nava Guerra is a senior majoring in Biochemistry at Manhattan College, who raised more than $2000 for her trip to Tanzania. She has recently started a MEDLIFE chapter at her university, which you can follow here. Read below about Stephanie’s experience with the 50:50 campaign:
How did you hear about MEDLIFE?
One of my friends, Manny, from the University of Georgia, went on a trip to Tena, Ecuador. I saw his photos on Facebook and thought, “how cool!” I sent him a message asking him more about the trip and he sent me a link to MEDLIFE’s website. I must have sent more than 100 emails about MEDLIFE to Amelia, the Associate Director of Student Affairs, but she was very helpful and answered all of my questions. I was originally going to participate in one of the clinics in Ecuador, but when I saw the announcement about a new trip to Tanzania, I knew I just had to go there. I signed up for the trip, without knowing a single soul, and travelled to Africa by myself, but it was all amazing and I would definitely do it all over again.
What made you decide to do the 50:50 campaign?
I’m a really big fan of fundraising in general, but especially if it’s for a good cause. A trip and experience like this is not always offered to students, let alone one coming from a single parent household. As soon as I discussed my plans with my mom, and that the cost did not have to be all paid for by her, that there was a way for me to receive donations and work for the money. My mom said, “It would be easy to just submit the money for the participation fee.” By doing the 50:50 campaign, I thoroughly went through the MEDLIFE website to be able to answer any questions that I would be encountered. As I read about the campaign, I learned that the money goes to more real causes like medicine, food and other supplies. This extra cause gave me more of an incentive to fundraise. It also allowed me to investigate more about what MEDLIFE is and spread the word about MEDLIFE.
How did you fundraise?
I was very assertive with my fundraising efforts. In most cases of fundraising, you send out one email to everyone you know explaining your case, you get a few initial donations, and mostly everyone else forgets. In my case, I sent out an initial email explaining my cause and would send reminder emails multiple times a week. My mom, Marla was a great help: she and I sat down and made up a list of people I could ask to donate, and the list was always growing. My mom’s boss, Nancy Lepre, was also very helpful. She sent out an email explaining my campaign to all of her friends and family and always checked up on my progress.
Would you recommend the 50:50 campaign to other students?
Yes! My motto for things like thisis “just do it.” While I was on the trip, I really saw where that money went — upon arriving to Tanzania, they took us to the pharmacy to buy medicine with the fundraised money, to the local market to buy toothbrushes and the grocery store for the food. Because of my fundraising and the trip, I opened up a new chapter here at my school and now we’re planning a trip to Riobamba, Ecuador. Now at our chapter we’re encouraging students to fundraise as much as they can, whether it’s $50 or $500, because at the end of the day it’s all going to help a good cause.
What were your impressions of Tanzania?
It’s absolutely beautiful! It really opened my eyes, it opened my mind and it opened my heart. All of the people there were really happy to see us and welcomed our help with open arms. It also made me realize that basic things such as running water are something that we take for granted here in the States. During the Mobile Clinic, we met a man who had walked several miles from another town to the clinic site just to get ibuprofen. That really put things in perspective for me.
What was your favorite part about the Mobile Clinic?
Definitely the people. When I was there I really tried to immerse myself in the language and the culture. I quickly became friends with Terry’s assistant, Innocent Massawe, who is local to the area and taught me some Swahili. I also kept a book of Swahili phrases and always introduced myself in Swahili. Sometimes I would butcher the language, but the people were always happy that I was trying to word and would often correct me. You know, many people have this stereotype of Africa — that everyone is starving and everyone is poor — but there are poor people all over the world, not just Africa. So it was really interesting to get there and see all of those stereotypes from TV to be put into perspective. The kids laugh and smile like we laugh and smile. Because at the end of the day they’re human beings like everyone else.
Anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to give a “shout out” to some of the people who heavily supported me inmy trip: Kathleen Rothschild, Robert Boyer, Manhattan College Faculty from the School of Science for all of their support, and lastly, Nancy Lepre for being a huge help in my campaign endeavors. I would also like to just give a big thanks to everyone who donated. Finally, I’d like to thank my mom, Marla Del Milagro Guerra Garza, and my sister, Kimberly Nava for making all of my goals and dreams come true.