As the world continues to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions, so do organizations' volunteer opportunities. Several students, like Claudia Romani, participated in MEDLIFE's two-day virtual service trip that immersed them in the Peru community and offered a better understanding of the impact of the pandemic on the community.
MEDLIFE, which stands for Medicine, Education and Development for Low-Income Families Everywhere, is a non-profit organization that strives "to build a worldwide movement empowering the poor in their fight for equal access to healthcare, education, and a safe home," according to their website.
The Joseph A. Latino Institute, in support of its students and scholars, helped pay for half of the trip for seven students. The assistance encouraged more members of the Seton Hall MEDLIFE chapter to attend. Romani, a junior psychology major and president of the Seton Hall MEDLIFE chapter, said, "The virtual service-learning program was an opportunity for our students to provide food for these communities through paying for the trip. But they were also able to connect with community leaders that working within those countries."
She said this event was important as it helps educate students, who are pursuing a healthcare-related career, on the health care system on an international level. She said it helped them understand potential ways they could help these communities.
The two-day trip also focused on the history of Lima, Peru, the health care disparities, and the health care system. Through these conversations, Romani said she was able to ask questions about the impact of the pandemic on the community. She said that hearing their experiences of their struggles and suffering was hard to listen to.
As the group prepared for the virtual service-learning trip, the students including Romani, raised money for the community. She said the group exceeded their goal and raised $2,122. She said their contribution is equivalent to 1,114 meals that will be provided to the community of Lima.
"I found a new admiration for these communities," Romani said. "I already admired them, but I admire them even more because these communities came from having nothing and losing hope to deciding to come together and unite."
Romani said that this cause was especially important to her because of her background and connection with Peru. Romani added that her faith led her to strive to help her brothers and sisters during their time of struggle. She said her passion for service and faith influenced her to get involved in this service trip. "This cause is important to me because as an immigrant of Peru…I am still able to create an impact from home," Romani said. "A $1.50 can provide one meal, so why not help a family out if we can. [One lesson I learned] is that no matter where you are in the world, we can still create an impact and difference.