Going to Cusco, Peru was one of the best decisions I've made recently. Even though I was nervous to go in the beginning, I can't think of a better way to spend my summer.
Preparing for the trip couldn't have be easier. Medlife is such a student friendly organization and guided me, the entire way, from tickets to hotel accommodations. Medlife also allows volunteers to set up a donation fund through their 50:50 campaign in which the collected funds are put towards 50% of the cost of the trip and the other 50% goes to Medlife to pay for medicines and payment to local doctors for better services to our local communities. Once I had my visa (as I do not hold a Canadian passport currently), I was ready to go to Cusco!
Our group and Medlife leaders were so nice, I had no problem making friends. In an instant, all my nervousness disappeared and all that was left was excitement for the days that were to come. Our clinics were truly the best place to learn about community medicine and see the barriers these communities have to face on a daily basis. We did our best to learn and appreciate. Medlife is different from other mission trips because of their follow up program so we knew that the patients we saw would receive continuous follow up care if they needed it. It was not just a week of work. I will continue to help and do what I can to remain engaged in community medicine and I encourage every single person reading this to consider a trip with Medlife. It doesn't require any medical knowledge, just the determination to help others
This past summer I was lucky enough to go on a medical service trip to Cuzco, Peru with MEDLife, an organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals in underdeveloped societies by promoting medicine, education, and development. As volunteers, we were required to partake in all 3 initiatives, by shadowing doctors and dentists, teaching children hygiene methods, and helping build much-needed kitchen stoves in a village where consistent water and electricity sources are scarce. Being in a country where I couldn’t understand or communicate in the language everyone spoke (Spanish and Quechua) was a challenge. Learning the essential “tourist” words was difficult let alone impossible when working in a medical environment. Nevertheless, being in such a state of communication-vulnerability really opened my eyes to the health challenges of our society and the need to disperse our knowledge and raise awareness regarding communities that do not have access to appropriate and life-essential health care. Maybe I only found it troubling that so many individuals could be health-deprived because it had never struck me before, but this trip was life-changing. It made me want to do more and help more simply because I was provided with an opportunity to see things from a different perspective, a perspective I only think I would have been able to acquire with MEDLife.
When looking back, the entire experience was phenomenal, yet the beauty behind such a trip was realizing that there is an underlying similar goal that all volunteers and organizers had in mind: the want to help improve the lives of others in whatever capacity they can. It paved way for good friendships and good times, making this trip a truly unforgettable, genuinely rewarding, and one-of-a-kind experience.
Last summer (2015), Anita and I had a great opportunity to visit Lima, Peru for one week and immersed ourselves into the intriguing culture that they had to offer. Simply put, it was an unforgettable experience for the both of us! Throughout our journey, our eyes had experienced firsthand the huge differences in medical services provided at our location compared to the health care that we are provided here in Canada. We were able to shadow the doctors, nurses, dentist, gynecologist, and a pharmacist. This was a very hands on experience and we enjoyed interacting with the patients. Although language was a barrier, that did not stop our passion in helping the people from very young children to the seniors. We will be sharing some of the photos of our experience and our hope is to add every one of you to the picture as well!
The everlasting friendships we have built amongst our colleagues from various universities around the world, while exercising our ability to communicate Spanish; it was truly the journey worth remembering. MEDLIFE provides students the opportunity to explore medical practice beyond the borders of your comfort zone, while simultaneously integrating an aspect of community service to the local communities.
Last summer, we were able to accomplish building a community stairway along with colleagues from various universities all around the world. This may seem quite a miniscule service project, but in fact we realized the impact it left for the local community was ever so huge! This stairway allowed the communities to come together, whereas without it, would have been a physical barrier to the community. In addition, we were able to build a local cafeteria to allow subsidized meals for children who attend school. What we take for granted here in Canada, were a luxury for these students at Peru. The donations you make help us accomplish the funding required to provide facilities such as these to those who need it the most. We must admit, the journey was quite tough, however, when we accomplished the program, most of us, if not everyone was left feeling proud of themselves for the service we were able to provide to the communities. It was an honour representing Canada, and the University of Toronto during our journey.
.... this was our story... What will yours be?? <-- We can help you with that!! Join our UofT MEDLIFE Chapter and get updated on events and trips we have planned for you! Looking forward to an amazing year!
Chirag and Anita
(Co-Presidents at UofT MEDLIFE)