In a small village in the tropical rainforest of Bolivia near the town of Chapare, the then 18-year-old Luis was introduced to the traveling clinic. He has suffered from untreated epilepsy since childhood. Several seizures a day severely affected his daily routine and endangered his health. As an orphan with several younger siblings, he was looked after by his grandmother, who was unable to cope with the disease and who, due to her age, found it increasingly difficult to look after the children. Medfund put him on medication and secured lifelong medical care. With this small but necessary support, a normal daily routine and professional activity could be made possible.

The Medfund project was born out of the idea of giving people from the poorest backgrounds in Bolivia access to medical care. In August 2016, a small group of five Bolivians left with the first traveling clinic in the small town of Teoponte in the tropical part of Bolivia. Meanwhile, 25 to 30 doctors from various disciplines and other volunteers from Bolivia as well as international volunteers take part in each trip. In total, more than 8,500 people have already been treated.

- Gesundheit ist nicht alles. Aber ohne Gesundheit ist alles nichts. Arthur Schopenhauer -

Especially in rural areas, the supply situation is desolate. In this huge country (which is almost 3 times the size of Germany), people often have to travel several hours on poor roads to reach a larger town with a health center. Only a few have the luxury of a motorised vehicle of transport, so the distance is sometimes an insurmountable obstacle for sick people. Moreover, in remote villages, bartering often still prevails, so there is no way to pay for treatment.

In Bolivia, only a total of about 30% of the population has public or private health insurance. Therefore, many families cannot afford the costs of preventive examinations, medical treatment or medication without driving the family into ruin. Since even school education is not free, the additional financial burden often results in the children dropping out of school.

Medfund carries out urgently needed medical examinations directly on site and teaches the villagers basic knowledge about disease prevention, such as dental and food hygiene, wound care, first aid and healthy nutrition. Volunteers teach these topics in a playful way through theater plays, practice brushing teeth with the children, or train teachers in disease recognition and prevention. Meanwhile, doctors examine, treat and advise the children. The current focus of treatment is on gastrointestinal diseases, pregnancy, diabetes, pediatrics, wound care, pain therapy, epilepsy, high blood pressure and many more. Not all people can be treated immediately, but serious illnesses can often be detected and further treatment initiated at the nearest hospital.

In general, everyone is welcome to contact Medfund who would like support or advice. After a thorough examination, the project managers, led by co-founder Joey Kittleson, decide on the spot what form the support should take. Currently, mainly people from rural areas and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds are treated for free at the traveling clinics. The mobile clinics are located in communities that do not have their own health centers, but are still centrally located so that patients from surrounding villages can travel to the clinic.

Good advice is dear, practical help even more. The helpfulness of the helpers is inexhaustible: After a difficult journey and nights on the tent floor, they provide the people on site with their knowledge and treatment free of charge with respect and patience. The organizers face major logistical challenges with the transport and catering for up to 30 volunteers as well as the procurement of equipment and medication. All costs are covered by donations in cash or in kind. Medicines are often donated by hospitals, companies or pharmacies and are therefore difficult to obtain, time-consuming and difficult to plan.

The declared goal of all organizers and helpers is to guarantee the poorest people the right to physical health in a dignified and respectful way. This enables the local people to pay for their livelihood and the education of their children themselves.

Due to the dependence on donations in the form of goods and money, the organization of the tours is difficult to plan and implement. INGEAR supports Medfund by fully funding two traveling clinics annually to reliably provide basic care, medical advice, and thus the chance for a healthy life. In addition, with the help of INGEAR, Medfund was able to finance its own bus so that the traveling clinic can now be more independent and safer for the volunteers.

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