Development Work | MEDLIFE Movement | Latin America & Africa

Development Work at MedlifeWhy Development?

Of the 27 million people living in Peru, more than half of the population lives in poverty, and approximately ¼ survives on just $1.00 a day. Many have migrated from rural and Andean regions in search of economic opportunities, leading to rapid population growth in Peru’s cities. This mass migration and the resulting overpopulation lead to the creation of urban slums outside of larger cities like Lima. These pueblos jovenes, or shantytowns, have expanded rapidly into tracts of invaded land that largely lack basic services such as waste management, electricity, and access to running water.

In rural communities, such as those we work with in Ecuador, residents face difficulties due to geographic isolation and unequal allocation of resources. For example, only 14% of the rural population in Ecuador has access to proper sanitation. A lack of education and economic opportunities contributes to rural poverty and also encourages migration.


MEDLIFE started with a big goal: to change what it means to volunteer and to make a sustainable difference in communities around the world. Instead of just giving short-term help, MEDLIFE focuses on lasting changes by building up local skills and ensuring our work continues impacting people’s lives even after volunteers leave.

This approach isn’t just about giving aid; it’s about assisting communities with the tools they need through education, healthcare, and projects that help them grow economically and become more self-sufficient.

We work hand in hand with communities to develop teamwork, leadership structure, social capital, and trust. Everything we do is 50% supported by MEDLIFE and 50% supported by the community we work with. Thanks to this approach, communities commonly continue to progress and improve their current reality.

Learn more about our initiatives:


Overseas volunteer opportunities

Above all else, MEDLIFE is a community development organization. Long before we ever begin a Mobile Clinic, our local community organizers are in the field connecting with leaders, gauging the community’s level of organization, and listening to their needs.

Lack of infrastructure and basic resources is a reality for the communities we partner with. Many live without electricity, water, bathrooms, nearby schools, and more. Our Development Service Learning Trips are for groups of engineering and architectural students seeking volunteer building work abroad in the planning and construction of community development projects.

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Community night Meetings

Night Meetings are usually held on weekday nights after work and are open for all MEDLIFE staff to participate. These meetings, led by the Director of MED Programs Carlos Benavides are intended to engage the community members in the process of coordinating clinics and development projects.

We start by listening to their needs.  As people explain the problems that they face in their communities we start to understand how we might be able to help.  In many situations the community knows exactly what they need, they might say, “we need a staircase” or “we need a water reservoir”.  In those communities, our job is pretty easy, but other times community members may describe the problems they face and we have to help them find a solution.

These meetings are truly special opportunities. They offer the opportunity to meet the community and hear directly from them on what issues are affecting them and how they will work together to resolve the issues.