A Yampu-sponsored MEDLIFE Student in Lima, Peru: Week Seven
Having the opportunity to witness all of the incredible work MEDLIFE has been doing in Lima, Peru has been absolutely incredible. See this week’s report from Ian, a MEDLIFE volunteer intern who has dedicated his summer to making a difference and experiencing a different culture in South America.
Crazy to think that I’ve been living in Lima for seven weeks now! The time I’ve spent here has been amazing, eye opening and an amazing learning experience. I am happy where I am in my life and all the steps that have taken me to this point. I can’t wait to share all that I have learned and the things I’ve experienced while here, take it back to my MEDLIFE chapter at the University of Vermont and use it throughout my life. This past week I was on three project days and I continued to work on our first draft of the fall semester fundraiser, Foundations for a Future, for the school in Tanzania.
For the first project day we delivered a sandwich cart to Tatiana, the mother of our patient Camila. Camila is MEDLIFE’s youngest patient. Having suffered the consequences of a stroke from 1 year old, she has cerebral palsy and cannot move her body nor speak. She needs constant therapy and medication, which requires great income. MEDLIFE worked with Tatiana to see what she needed to help her increase her income to help better support herself and her daughter. With the help of Tatiana we organized a Project Fund for a food cart that she could use to sell sandwiches and provide more for her daughter. Tatiana will now be responsible for putting in the hard work herself, and will be able to independently support her daughter’s medical needs. During this project I learned the importance of working with the community and in this case with community members to see what their needs are, rather than giving a hand out that they wouldn’t use or don’t really want. I am just really amazed how much my classes in CDAE have helped me in this internship and how what we are learning has propelled me ahead of the other interns I work with. I’ve been learning key aspects of community development in the real world and how there are problems and how you overcome them. This can’t be learned just in a class room and I feel that this experience and this learning opportunity was and is worth the time I am putting in during this internship.
For the three project days I worked on a staircase funded for Carmen Castro in Los Jardines, Pamplona Alta. We climbed the uneven, slippery and rough grounds, the same grounds that existed prior to the construction of the staircase. Realizing that climbing these rocky hills multiple times per day is a reality for this community and trying it out before helping with the construction, was definitely eye-opening. The staircase will improve the safety of children like Carmen Castro’s granddaughters and the overall community by providing a safe way to exit the community in case of an emergency like an earthquake that happens very often in Lima. We worked with community members to move sand and cement up the hillside to the project site. It was great to be working with the community members, to talk to them and learn more about their needs. Working alongside the community and its leaders is a very important component of MEDLIFE’s philosophy as this is the key to sustainable change. Community contribution and participation establishes both an understanding of the need for development as well as an increased likelihood for future initiative.
We also walked to the Wall of Shame, a ten foot high wall topped with razor wire separates the rich from the poor. Built by the rich communities, it’s a daily reminder of the extreme poverty in Lima. How would you feel, being separated by miles and miles of wall with million dollar homes with running water and electricity on one side while you lack access to clean water, safe electricity and access to and from your home?? In the distance you can see more of the Wall of Shame, which is being expanded more and more every day. We then continued to work on the staircase forming a cooperative assembly line and carrying cement up the rugged hill.
During these three project days I learned more about community involvement and how it can help and hinder a project. I learned how important community mapping is because MEDLIFE can map this community, see the issues and help create a stronger and more involved community. I learned what goes into doing a staircase project and it’s not just the project, it takes around three months from the first meeting to the start of the project with planning, community meetings and discussions with community members. All of this has helped me with gaining experience in the field and really understanding how much planning needs to be done before the project can be done. Planning is such a big part of the project cycle and most of the time that’s not seen. What is usually seen is the deliverables, so with these three days I learned how important those large sections of planning are.
Hometown: Hamilton, NJ
School: University of Vermont
Minor: Community & International Development
Ian is a mentor for two awesome mentees Keshon and Kiki, a volunteer at the University of Vermont Medical Center on the pediatric floor, the president of MEDVIDA, his local chapter of MEDLIFE, and a member of the UVM Triathlon club. He loves being outdoors hiking, snowboarding, and camping.
Ian first got involved with MEDLIFE at the University of Vermont by joining his local chapter during Freshman year. He went on his first brigade that summer to Cusco, Peru and it changed his life. During his Sophomore year he became Vice President and Brigades Officer for his chapter. That summer he went on my second brigade to Esmeraldas, Ecuador where he first learned about his current internship in Lima, Peru. In his Junior year he became the President of his chapter at UVM and he is now a MEDLIFE Volunteer Affairs Intern.
His goal for this internship is to connect his Biology major and Community and International Development minor through helping with the planning and implementation of sustainable community development projects that help bring medical access to vulnerable communities.