On Mar. 13, a brigade of 11 students from the Claremont Colleges set out for Lima, Peru on a MEDLIFE trip to help save lives and provide basic health care to impoverished communities.
MEDLIFE (Medical Education and Development for Low Income Families Everywhere) is a student-run organization whose mission is to help families achieve greater freedom from the constraints of poverty, empowering them to live healthier lives. The international organization has full-time employees who work in Ecuador and Peru throughout the year and help organize brigades, notify the communities that volunteers are coming, and recruit doctors and dentists.
Volunteers worked in poor and rural areas around Lima, and set up clinics in school buildings. Two doctors, two dentists, and a gynecologist accompanied the student group on the brigade. Students also had the opportunity to shadow the doctors and dentists, perform basic procedures, teach children and adults how to brush their teeth (many of them had never seen a toothbrush before), and work at the pharmacy station. MEDLIFE participants also had an opportunity to practice their Spanish-speaking skills, and to engage with the Peruvian culture.
Sara Cronin SC ’12 said she was inspired by the physicians’ dedication. “They donated their time and supplies for a week to help communities that needed their help,” she said.
Jin Koh PO ’12 said his favorite part of the brigade was working with children. “The kids were not afraid and very friendly and were all interested in learning about our culture.”
Although brigades generally last only one to two weeks, MEDLIFE follows up with patients, organizes and performs surgeries for those who need it, and runs follow-up tests. This week, the results of the pap smear exams were administered and explained to the patients by MEDLIFE staffers in Peru. Some of the women had received pap smears in the past, but they never obtained the results due to the disorganization and lack of fluidity among government health agencies in the country.
The Claremont chapter of MEDLIFE was launched last year by Pia Faxon SC ’11, Jean Kang SC ’11 and three other Scripps students.CEO and founder of MEDLIFE Nick Ellis is scheduled to visit Claremont during the month of April to present and speak to students about the growing organization.