Back to School in Virgen de Chapi!

Fourth Clinic Day!

Back to School in Virgen de Chapi!

On day four of our mobile clinic we visited the people of Virgen de Chapi and Manchay. The clinic in Virgen de Chapi was in a tiny open schoolhouse. It was incredibly fun to see the brightly coloured handprints all over the walls and the “Feliz Cumpleaños” paper signs with children’s names in each room. It was such a fun atmosphere for our clinic and everyone’s mood reflected that.

One little boy in Manchay stood out the most to the volunteers for being so intelligent at such a young age. He was impressing us with his incredible Spanish to English translations that he had learned in school. We really hope that this child is going to have opportunities available to him in his future because he has all of the potential in the world. It’s difficult sometimes being here and seeing these children and not knowing what their future may hold for better or for worse.

Paula is one of our brigade members and as a native Spanish speaker she is able to have a much different experience than the rest of us who suffer from the language barrier.

Coming from Venezuela, I had seen the unfortunate conditions in which some people still live in to this day. I had always wanted to do something about it and MEDLIFE gave me the opportunity to come to Peru and contribute to improve people’s lives. It has been an unbelievable experience that I will surely never forget.

My most memorable experience from this brigade so far had been interacting with the children. In every village we have been to, they have brightened our day with their smiles and irresistible cuteness. Being in the toothbrushing station allowed me to talk to the children and learn about their lives. I remember this 12-year-old girl who was telling me how she is learning English at school because one day she will travel all over the world. I realized that just like us, these children have dreams. They should have the right to pursue them, but without the essentials they might not even have the chance to finish high school. That is what MEDLIFE is about, helping bring these people the primary care they need to provide a better life and better opportunities for the next generation. It was touching to see how we all became so close with he children at each clinic and how they would wave us goodbye, asking when we would be back.

I also had the opportunity to talk to Señor Carlos, an active MEDLIFE member. It was truly through his explanations that I saw how MEDLIFE actively involves the people in the village and cater to their needs when they ask for help. He described in great detail how the stair project works. He is in charge of bringing the community together in order to put the project forward. The people in the village start working on it two to three months before the brigade starts. The men have to miss work days to help break the rocks and build a way for the staircase to be built. Some areas are deep into the mountain where no cars can pass so they also have to carry cement and the necessary materials to the construction site. They are all very hardworking people and it is humbling to set how they all come together to work towards the same goal.

We learn so many great things from these people and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to meet them. I hope to come back again, but next time for longer.

Hasty pronto y gracias por todo!

MedlifeMcGill

¡TIMBERRR! at Pull San Pedro

DAY 4 –  Pull San Pedro.

by Vanessa Sunahara

Today, I was placed on project duty. It consists of helping the locals of Pull San Pedro build a bathroom for their school. Surprisingly enough, we ended helping in other ways. Emily, Esther, Francois, Kate, Yang, Sonja and I were dropped off at Pull San Pedro while the rest of the MEDLIFE brigade moved onto the next village to set up the clinic.  At first, we stood in the courtyard waiting for instructions and watching the village men wrestle down a few trees. The children were hiding in the entrance ways, giggling at us gringos. (Their teachers realized what a attraction we were for the kids and eventually let them come out and meet all of us.) We felt like parents at a Justin Bieber concert, taller than most and not completely sure what we are there for.

After a few minutes, the women of the village started working on expanding the courtyard, using hoes and shovels to break the old field. It was then, through much miming, we managed to ask if we could help. I’m not sure if it was because they actually needed the extra hands, or because they just wanted to see strange foreigners have a go at manual labor, but they accepted our offer.  I have the utmost respect for the villagers that we worked along with. Their tools were primitive, but had a certain simplicity to them. All the women worked in traditional Ecuadorian clothing (long skirts, a hat, several layers of sweaters and rain boots). I even saw one working the entire day with an infant strapped to her back. The general mood of the group was relaxed. There was no rush to finish, yet there were no breaks in the workflow.

The first half of the day consisted of breaking down concrete, shoveling, making inappropriate hoe jokes and wheel-barrowing tons of dirt and rocks. These were unlikely tasks for a party of out of shape university students whose most recent idea of heavy lifting meant carrying a biology textbook to class and doing cardio meant climbing up to the fifth floor of the library. After a few hours, we heard the “gringo alarm” (a loud siren usually used to signal the start of the clinic), and the teachers invited us into their lounge and treated us to a local snack. It consisted of bread, boiled eggs and an amazing drink (soy, grains and many other nutritious ingredients). Yang was kind enough to teach us the fastest way to eat a boiled egg (ask him, if you´re interested).  After our snack, we went back to work.

The men were moving the remnants of the pine trees that were cut down earlier. We jumped right in to help; pine sap ended up everywhere. Once that was done, we moved onto extracting stones from a pile of dirt and subsequently used them as foundation for the soon to be larger courtyard.  By 1300, the bus arrived to pick us up. We were saddened that we were unable to cover the entire courtyard in stone, but still satisfied by the amount of work accomplished during the course of the day. While the day was rewarding, I am very excited to head back to the clinic tomorrow, and more excited to see the new bathroom after the week is done.

 

P.S.

Aji solves everything, especially soy allergies.
A note from Yang: We helped pull down a large tree (just so you know).

MedlifeMcGill