A Pre-Clinic Ocean Breeze

by Doulia Hamad

Buenos días!

This is now day two of our trip, and things are well, although anticipation for the days to come is building and building. Because our group is a melting pot of students coming from different parts of the USA, Puerto Rico and Canada, ther is a lot to get to know about each other, a task that we are happily completing over meals, sightseeing walks, and after-dinner games.


Yesterday, we got a small tour of Mariflores, the district of Lima where our hotel is. As we walked around, taking picture after picture of houses, streets and anything else that may seem noteworthy to a dutiful toutist, I couldn’t help but be enchanted by the friendly nature of the place. We came across a large avenue that, our MEDLIFE guide Giorgio explained, was closed every Sunday morning just to allow bikers and runners and rollerbladers to enjoy themselves. Mariflores’ beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the food that one can enjoy while gazing into the horizon, makes it an easy place to like. Yesterday, I tasted a dish called “Causa Fashion”, which consisted of fried shrimp set daintily on top of dollops of lemon-flavoured mashed potatoes. My description may not do this dish justice, but hopefully the picture will.

Today, we are headed for a tour of Pamplona. “Be prepared to hike!” said Sunita, one of the MEDLIFE interns. After our hike, we will also find out what groups we are in for the clinics and development project. Can’t wait!

First Impressions in Pachacutec, Peru.

Second Clinic Day!

First Impressions in Pachacutec.

Day two began with a very early and very long bus ride to Pachacutec, a neighbourhood on the coast of Peru. This was MEDLIFE’s first visit to Pachacutec and all of the community members were very excited to be included in our mission. Pachacutec was added to the list of villages in need when one of MEDLIFE’s central figures was approached by a man in downtown Miraflores who was selling handmade crafts in order to support his family. The man, recognizing the organization’s logo, requested our assistance for his family and friends back home. Despite the distance, MEDLIFE could not refuse to lend a hand.

Again, students had a chance to shadow a different doctor and learn each specialty’s tricks of the trade for the day. Pachacutec was an especially fun location, as community leaders played Latin music over the speakers all day which contributed to a very relaxed and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Members of this village were extremely engaged in the entire process and showed great appreciation for the work we were doing.

Today, Michelle, one of McGill’s members, began the day in dentistry and spent the afternoon shadowing one of the volunteer doctors. Here is her take on the day:

“Today we had to drive about an hour and a half to get to the community we worked in. I was in the dentist station in the morning. It was interesting because A LOT of teeth were pulled and one cavity was filled. I thought it was cool because we got to really get a good look into the mouths as the dentist removed teeth. The teeth all belonged to very young children. It is kind of crazy that all of these little kids had such poor dental hygiene.

In the afternoon, I was with Dr. Paolo. He was very interactive and did a great job of getting myself and the other two volunteers at his station involved throughout the day. We were quizzed (I got +1 point!) and we were able to examine the patients ourselves! We were made to feel like residents. [Shadowing Dr. Paolo allowed us to see the conditions that most affect these low income neighborhoods of Lima, and how medical professionals go about treating these various cases when they can.]

I really love the doctors we get to work with here, they’re definitely making the experience that much more enjoyable. I would really like to stay involved with McGill’s MEDLIFE chapter. Overall, another great day, and the nap on the bus ride home was refreshing [and definitely necessary!].”

Each night, MEDLIFE provides all of us with the opportunity to partake in various local activities to get a feel for Peru life. Tonight, Diego, Ricardo, and Fernando were kind enough to come and teach us how to Salsa dance! We stepped on many a toes at first, but by the end, with much practice, we blended right in with the locals. Olé!

Hasta luego mis amigos!