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More than a Volunteer Trip Experience

What is Medlife?

MEDLIFE is an organization whose mission is to help families achieve greater freedom from the constraints of poverty, empowering them to live healthier lives. They carry out their mission by improving the communities’ access to MEDs: Medicine, Education and community Development.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

The Volunteer Trip Experience

The MEDLIFE-UPRM Chapter worked with small indigenous communities in the Andes Mountain Range, south of Riobamba, Ecuador. Locals call Riobamba “Fríobamba” because of its low temperatures. These communities don’t have access to basic resources­– like transportation nor sanitation infrastructure. A typical Mobile Clinic week includes three days volunteering on-site at the clinic, one day working with local community members on a development project and two days of cultural tourism. Our clinic, which consisted of 62 students accompanied by Dr. José Hawayek Alemañy, worked with local doctors and provided basic health services to people in need. Our development project consisted of building a case of stairs that connected with the newly constructed bathroom.

Everyone was struck by the close-up view of poverty and lack of access to basic healthcare resources. Malnutrition is common in the children we encountered,  because the nutritious produce that families grow are sold, rather than consumed. The money is then used to buy inexpensive, unhealthy meals and other products. Because of the consumption of processed sugary foods, most people suffer from teeth cavities. Most of them don’t have access to basic dental care– or even posses the money to buy a toothbrush.

One of the most shocking things is that the lack of transportation forces people to walk enormous distances to go to the hospital (the closest hospital is two and a half hours away from the communities). In most of the cases, they don’t arrive in time to make turn so they are sent back to their communities with their discomfort. Worst of all, they lose a day of work, which could potentially mean­– a day without food.

More Than Just A Volunteer Trip

There are many organizations that offer mission trips to undergraduate students and volunteers. But with MEDLIFE, all the participants had the opportunity to work with doctors and leaders. By working with local physicians and interacting with patients, the students were able to learn more about the Ecuadorian culture, history, government issues and common diseases.Volunteer trips are a great way for chapters to come together as a team; it introduces a sense of responsibility within the group. The students are encouraged to learn how to join people from different backgrounds and work towards achieving a common goal.

In addition to doing volunteer work, the group was able to breath the air of new places, do extra activities and visit other parts of Ecuador. The students traveled to other cities like Baños, often referred to as the “Gateway to the Amazon”, and Guano. They had the experience to explore surrounding national parks, catch a sight of spectacular volcanoes and visit historical places.

On top of that, traveling makes you more social, bridges cultural gaps and allows you to connect with people from other parts of the world. You’ll meet great new people who share your interests and can even build long-lasting friendships! One of the best things that students took away from the MEDLIFE volunteer trip experience is the drive to help others. The group was able to serve all members of the community and make a significant difference in other people’s lives.

Traveling can also mark transitions in our lives. These eye-opening experiences may not visibly change you, but they reshape you. A mind that is stretched by new events is awake and can never go back to its old dimensions. It promotes general expansion of knowledge and awareness. You learn to be compassionate and focus on the beautiful parts of life. Part of your heart will always be in another place, that is the price you pay for having the wonderful experience of helping people in other places of the world.


Beyond participating, the group also helped by donating large quantities of medical supplies. They also collected new and used shoes from individuals and distributed them via direct donations to everyone in the communities. I would like to give special thanks to the MEDLIFE-UPRM Executive Board, whose work and amazing dedication has resulted in many successful achievements. In just one semester, they have recruited an incredibly large membership base, traveled with 62 students to a MEDLIFE Clinic in Riobamba and plan to travel again to another clinic in Perú this summer. I know that our chapter will excel and continue to make an impact in the campus community.

If you would like to get more information about our Peruvian Summer Mobile Clinic please contact medlife.uprm@gmail.com or like our page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/medlife.uprm

*All of the pictures were taken at our Mobile Clinics in Riobamba, Ecuador.





Photo Sources



 Preferences Preferences Preferences PreferencesNicole is a junior at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, majoring in Industrial Microbiology. She has many creative interests and loves to learn as much information as she can in just about any intellectual field. Nicole is a new columnist who aspires to write original science-based articles that any collegiette (without a scientific background) can understand! You can follow her on instagram at @nicolerbobe    Preferences Preferences  Preferences Preferences Preferences Preferences  Preferences Preferences Preferences Preferences  Preferences Preferences  Preferences Preferences  Preferences§1234567890-=Backspace Tabqwertyuiop[] Return  capslockasdfghjkl;' shift`zxcvbnm,./shift  English  Deutsch Español Français Italiano Português Русский alt alt  Preferences 
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