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Union Santa Fe - COVID-19 in South America

As COVID-19 spreads around the world, MEDLIFE is working hard to make sure the most vulnerable populations aren’t forgotten.

In mid-March 2020, the governments of Peru & Ecuador announced nationwide lockdowns. All non-essential businesses were closed, international and domestic travel halted, and residents were instructed to only leave their homes to visit grocery stores, pharmacies, or medical centers. While these measures were necessary to prevent overwhelming local healthcare systems, and to prevent the spread of the virus, they present unimaginable challenges for families.

In just a few days many went from living day to day on informal wages, to not knowing how they would afford to feed their children. They were told that the best way to prevent the spread of illness was to wash their hands, yet water trucks stopped arriving to deliver clean water to their community. Hospital appointments that were already expensive and challenging to access became terrifying and practically impossible to travel to.

While we know we can’t solve everything, there’s a lot we can still do to help families make it through the pandemic. But we need your help. Travel has halted so we no longer have funding from volunteers coming on Service Learning Trips. In the meantime, we will rely on the generosity of monthly donors and partner organizations to continue our work.



MEDLIFE has developed a seemingly simple, yet effective approach to COVID-19 emergency response. It follows these basic steps:

  1. Our community organizers reach out to the leaders of nearby communities to identify families in need.
  2. We make a (usually long) list of families that are struggling with food insecurity, or another basic necessity.
  3. Our team continuously fundraises to purchase food for the families identified week to week.
  4. MEDLIFE community organizers begin to coordinate the difficult and complicated process of food donations. We work on accessing government-issued permits for deliveries and purchases.
  5. We purchase, package, disinfect, and deliver a week’s supply of food to the identified families.
  6. Repeat.


A message from our founder, Nick Ellis MD:

“MEDLIFE is all about increasing freedom for people living in extreme poverty. One of the most basic freedoms a person can enjoy is freedom from hunger. Today we are battling this issue in our communities. As we all try to decrease the transmission rate of the novel coronavirus, the lowest income communities are suffering disproportionately. Historically MEDLIFE has focused on one time donations to complete infrastructure projects but now we are seeing that many communities need ongoing monthly nutritional support.  We need your help today to raise monthly donations for families facing food insecurity.”

Our Impact (So Far!)

Thanks to amazing donor support we have successfully delivered packages of food to thousands of families across Peru & Ecuador including the areas of Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Tena, Riobamba, and Guayaquil. We are also collaborating on a community initiative of preparing and distributing lunch thousands of individuals in Lima.

We will continue our work through COVID-19 and its aftermath. This approach is helping to alleviate some of the challenges families are facing, but as mentioned above in order to reach the intense quantities of families suffering from food insecurity, we need your help. Join our monthly giving program today.

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.