MEDLIFE: Partnering with, not doing to – #GivingTuesday

by · January 22, 20130 comments

Last week, C.C. Chapman mentioned the importance of water. Another need the world over is medical care.

One of the coolest nonprofits I’ve come across is MEDLIFE. MEDLIFE started when a medical student, Nick Ellis, was on a medical missions trip to Peru. As with other medical trips, the medical team took care of the needs that were presented to them. But something bugged Nick.

One woman came to him with a serious medical issue. As he listened to her story, he realized her condition was largely do to a the path she used to walk up the mountain. What would really improve her health and the health of her community would be to build stairs up the mountain. But the team was there to provide medical care, not build things.

Logo for MEDLIFE

That experience changed his whole approach to medicine and spurred him on to create MEDLIFE (Medicine, Education and Development to Low Income Families Everywhere). For over 10 years now, MEDLIFE has brought medical students to Latin America to provide poor communities with healthcare. But they only do that after listening to the community first. Rather than doing something to the poor, the poor are treated as partners. Through this, MEDLIFE has seen the opportunity to not only build stairs, but to create schools and build hygiene projects in Peru, Panama, and Ecuador.

I wish the idea of partnering with people rather than “fixing them” weren’t so revolutionary but it really is.

Another cool thing about MEDLIFE is the funding model: their overhead is completely funded by the medical students’ trips. So 100% of your $10 donation will go directly to helping fund the projects or medical work.

If that’s not your thing, you can choose to help a medical students fundraise for their own trip. There are around 50 MEDLIFE chapters at colleges and medical schools around North America. All three options–funding projects, medical care, or students–are on their donation page.

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For an insight into more of MEDLIFE’s hygiene projects watch this short 6 minute video:

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About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the author of Ask Without Fear! and Google+ for Nonprofits. As a public speaker, his expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences around the world and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. He’s also a homebrewer, coffee snob, and loves singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family. Sign up for his free fundraising tips at http://fundraisingcoach.com/subscribe/

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