Our Educational Work
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), many children that finish second grade in rural areas do not know how to read or write, due to:
- Distance to schools: the lack of schools in rural areas often forces children to migrate to schools far away from their homes, enduring long and dangerous walks.
- Number of classroom hours: many teachers only teach Tuesday through Thursday to go home to the city on weekends.
- Single teachers: a single teacher is one who has students in different grades in a single classroom and who must implement a lesson plan for all of them at the same time.
Additionally, poor infrastructure in communities often means that school rooms are small or non-existent, there is a lack of resources for teachers, and they are not built to properly shelter children from the elements.
Health Education Workshops
During our Mobile Clinics and our year-round community organizing work, we provide health education in the form of educational videos, brochures, and presentations by medical professionals. We provide information on diseases such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, diabetes, and more to help our patients understand how to prevent and treat such conditions.
Modeled after health education programs a patient would receive in the United States, our workshops focus on teaching patients about how to live healthier lives, demonstrating important health tests and screenings, answering questions, and trying to implement a culture of preventative care.
School Construction Projects
MEDLIFE’s first school construction project was inspired by the community of Telan Playa, Ecuador in 2010. During a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic, student volunteers noticed that 55 children, ages 5 to 13, were tightly packed into a single, small classroom. This meant not only an uncomfortable learning environment and an overwhelmed teacher but also a lack of age-specific education.
Returning home, these students took matters into their own hands, organizing nationwide fundraising events with MEDLIFE Chapters across the USA.
6 weeks after our students visited Telan Playa for the first time, MEDLIFE student members had fundraised enough money to build a second classroom for the school. Since then, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education has provided a list of schools in the country most in need of additional classroom space.
We have since expanded our school construction work to all of our sites – with notable projects in Ecuador, Peru, and Tanzania.
The MED Center for Primary Education
MEDLIFE worked with our longtime partner community of Union Santa Fe on the outskirts of Lima, Peru to build a physical structure to meet their self-identified needs: the Wawa Wasi. An effort in sustainable development, the idea for the building came from concerns expressed by community members that there was no safe place to leave their children while they went to work.
Instead of building a parallel educational system, we proceeded to work hand in hand with government programs already in place to address the need. In Lima, the government has designated an education program called CUNAMAS to children from 1 to 2 years. This program provides food, childcare, and education to children in low-income communities. Unfortunately, to qualify for the program the community must have a suitable and safe environment for the children. That is where MEDLIFE came in.
We constructed a building that could serve as a childcare center on the first floor. For a period of time, we operated hand in hand with CUNAMAS to offer childcare to families in the area. But as the community has grown and changed, their needs have also grown and changed. And to properly meet those needs, the Wawa Wasi has transitioned into to what is now the MED Center for Primary Education – the first branch of what will eventually be a much larger scale project, the MED Center.
The full-scale MED Center will be a community center focused on particular development issues that the communities face. For example, some of our goals for the MED Center include offering a trade school for children and adults, basic medical and dental services, and providing a safe space for community meetings.
Outside of Lima, MEDLIFE is currently in the process of building school rooms and daycare centers for several underserved communities. But the MED Center for Primary Education is our largest scale project yet.