MEDLIFE: empowering low-income families with healthcare and education

Healthcare services and education are empowering in a community, but equal access to these resources is often not a reality. The MEDLIFE chapter at NC State, which stands for medicine, education, and development for low-income families everywhere, is a volunteer-based student organization that strives to help families achieve greater freedom from the far-reaching constraints of poverty.

Emilie Holloway, a third-year studying biological sciences and nutrition, acts as the group’s current co-president. Holloway explained the organization’s history and overarching mission.

“MEDLIFE is a nonprofit, pretty much, that is located out of Lima, Peru […] and so we have different chapters across different universities throughout the United States that partner with them and fundraise in America,” Holloway said. “Ultimately, our goal is to send them money and also do service learning trips with them. Their mission is to build a worldwide movement that empowers the poor and their fight for equal access to healthcare, education and a safe home.”

The MEDLIFE chapter here at NC State shares this mission, and makes efforts to support the local and global community alike.

Jagriti Vanam, a third-year studying biological sciences and business administration and the group’s current vice president, explained the volunteering-related efforts NC State MEDLIFE participates in.

“As of now, we’re trying to reach out ot children’s hospitals as well as Feed the Pack,” Vanam said. “Basically we’re trying to first get the club started and going.”

Currently, the organization is in the process of building membership and getting more people involved, according to Holloway. The student organization began in October 2017, and is already working with additional partners to bring its mission to life.

“We’re going to partner with local organizations this summer,” Holloway said. “I’ve reached out to the Ronald McDonald House in Durham – CASA, which provides living to the homeless community. We’re putting together some welcome baskets. Each time a new family moves into one of their apartments, they get a basket filled with nonperishable food items, kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies […] things that they might need.”

In the future, Holloway is hoping to get a group together to go down and do a service learning trip in Peru with MEDLIFE itself.

“Something that really sticks out to me about [MEDLIFE’s] values and principles is they really pride themselves in listening to the communities that they’re impacting to see what they want and what they need,” Holloway said. “We actually did a phone chat with a lady that works out in Peru and I actually communicate with her frequently, and she told me whenever we were first getting started that they never want to do anything that isn’t welcomed or isn’t actually going to benefit these people.”

While NC State’s MEDLIFE chapter reaches out to local organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, the group also wants to broaden the volunteering services it offers. Vanam sees the group not only donating clothes to a particular organization, but also extending to additional volunteer-focused efforts, such as donating to various food banks.

Holloway, Vanam and additional MEDLIFE board members are also planning on helping people in the military.

“I really want it [MEDLIFE] to be a program that is well-respected by people in the community and that is big on volunteering, not just with one organization but making an impact both on campus and in the Raleigh community,” Holloway said.

To get involved with MEDLIFE, and actively make a difference in the community, visit the organization’s webpage, https://getinvolved.ncsu.edu/organization/medlife.

“We’re really on the volunteering side,” Vanam said. “If you really want to let [yourself] inspire your need to help impoverished people, or just to help the community and give back to the community, then I really feel that this is the club for you.”

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