UF MEDLIFE students travel to Peru to provide basic medical aid to locals

By Jeanny Lavache

Living in a first world country, it was hard for University of Florida freshman Bryn Buckner to imagine the lives of those living in poverty around the world.

This is why Buckner and other UF MEDLIFE students took a trip to Cusco Peru over their spring break and provided medical aid to the impoverished locals.

The volunteers traveled to rural villages near Cusco where medicine and basic health care is scarce.

“The goal of the trip was to provide aid to some of the more rural villages that did not have access to medical attention,” Buckner said.

MEDLIFE is an organization that aims to better the lives of low-income families through medicine, education and development.

“We provided services like dental care, tooth brushing for kids, general doctor appointments and obgyn appointments,” Buckner said.

The volunteers seen firsthand how the locals lived with the little that they had. Many of the local children lacked dental hygiene due to poverty.

“When applying the fluoride, it was kind of scary to see the amount of decay that has already occurred at age 7,” said Esha Banwatt, a freshman at UF.

The local children lacked not only dental care, but they were also contracting parasites from the poorly-cooked foods they ate.

“A lot of the kids from the villages had parasites from their food not being cooked properly,” Buckner said. “Building the stoves really helped.”

The volunteers built stoves for the local homes to insure a cleaner and safer cooking environment. Prior to the newly built stoves, locals would cook inside of the home on an open fire which caused repertory problems such as coughing and difficulty breathing.

“We were able to build stoves that had chimneys so that they weren’t breathing in the smoke,” Banwatt said.

The Volunteers built the stoves using very unique materials that proved to be effective.

“The cement for the stove was a mixture of manure, human hair, salt, sugar and water,” Buckner said.

Volunteers provided the locals with the basic medicine they needed. Even regular over-the-counter pain medication meant so much to the locals who received them.

“Something as little as Tylenol to help a farmer with his back pain means a lot,” Banwatt said.

The trip to Peru brought out a lot of emotions for some of the volunteers.

“It was a very meaningful experience for me,” Buckner said. “I am definitely more thankful for things like basic health care.

This trip was a great opportunity for these students to see what life is like for those living in poverty and offer their aid in order to make a difference.

“Anytime I come back from a developing country it always reminds me to appreciate everything I have,” Banwatt said.

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