Journey into a Community – WWOOFer/Nurse/Traveler/Organizer

This blog post contributed by Malene Jakobsen.

The ocean, nature, wildlife, mouthwatering food, friendship, insight in the Juluchucan way of life and a sense of being genuinely welcome and part of Playa Viva and the local community. These are just a few of the great experiences that I will take home with me after having spent a little over a month volunteering in the local health clinic in the village of Juluchuca. A project made possible through Playa Viva and their involvement with volunteers via the WWOOFing network.

My work as a volunteer in the health clinic has consisted of wound cleansing, injections, measuring blood pressure, blood sugar etc, and helping sort out the chaotic pharmacy. I’ve also had the privilege of carrying out a Pap smear and taking part in several educational meetings with the local women and their children. All of which have given me a unique opportunity of achieving insight in the life conditions of the inhabitants in the village, and of catching a glimpse of what challenges they are dealing with such as poverty, early teenage pregnancies and unemployment.

P1030141Another function of mine in the clinic has been being the person in charge of “the leaky roof project”. Together with the help of the kind guests and donors at Playa Viva we have managed to gather enough money for the materials for the construction of a new roof in the clinic, since the existing one was very leaky and would have resulted in serious problems with the coming rainy season during spring and summer.

The local board of health in the municipality of Petatlán is considering constructing a new and bigger health clinic in Juluchuca, but that is not definitely decided, and might take a couple of years before that becomes a reality.

The doctor and I have held several meetings with the most efficient decision makers in the village – the women, and we have together decided, that the best use of the money would be to have an aluminium construction build above the existing roof.
It has all along the process been crucial that the locals part take in the decisions and the work, and a representation of the locals has therefore agreed that every household in Juluchuca and surrounding villages contribute with 20 pesos each for paying for the manual labour needed, provided that the donations would pay for the materials.

The end result with the aluminium roofing has turned out to be a cheaper solution than first estimated and so a fund has been created for further possible improvements in the clinic, such as a new examination bed, an oxygen container and a manual resuscitator. All of which will be able to be used in a new clinic as well. This might be a little project for a future volunteer.

During my two months stay in Mexico I have all along felt more than welcome, both at Playa Viva, in the clinic, in the village and all along the pacific coast. I have been able to contribute in a small scale to the improvement of the facilities in local community and I have experienced a kindness, an interest and an openness towards me that has felt genuine and has been moving. And these have been some of the most important factors of making this work holiday/vacation one of my best journeys ever.


Urgent Care – Items Needed for Juluchuca Health Clinic

Teaming up with Pack for a Purpose, on-site volunteer and nurse from Denmark, Malene Jakobsen, has developed short list of critical items needed for the local health clinic. This just a list of supplies. We will also be raising funds to do some needed renovations in the coming weeks.

To see the list on Pack for a Purpose site – click here – and scroll down to “Project 2” or see list below:

Blood pressure cuff – Digital, Examination gloves, Manual resuscitator, both child and adult size, Pen-torches / flashlights, Scissors, Spacers for asthmatic patients, Tweezers and Urine dipsticks

We will be updating this list from time to time. Regardless of whether you are a health professional, your assistance in obtaining any of the items on this list and donating them to the local health clinic would be most appreciated.  Keep in mind the limitations allowed by customs, any items that have an aggregate value of over $300 are subject to import duties upon your arrival into Mexico (above and beyond your personal items packed). If you have any questions about what to bring or how to declare with customs, please feel free to email us at info @

Thank you for your support.

Leaky Roof and Shattered Windows: Juluchuca Health Clinic In Need

The rain was coming in through the ceiling of every room there and it still does whenever it rains. Many of the windows are shattered which has the effect that everything inside the clinic quickly gets covered by a layer of dust.

Contribution by Malene Jakobsen, WWOOFer Volunteer and Nurse from Denmark.

IMG_1570Coming to Playa Viva feels like discovering a hidden treasure. Located right on the beach of the crystalline waters of the Pacific Ocean, Playa Viva seems to blend in perfectly with the natural exotic surroundings. One easily gets carried away here just contemplating how beautiful nature is and how wonderful life is in the midst of it all.

My objective in coming here is to experience this extraordinary place and also to do some voluntary work at Playa Viva or in the nearby community. Being a nurse from Denmark the possibility of working in the nearby medical clinic in the village Juluchuca seemed like the best use of my skills. Playa Viva arranged a brief meeting with the local doctor, Jenny, where I had a chance to meet her and see the clinic, and the following day I started working there.

The clinic provides medical assistance for about 1500 citizens from Juluchuca and surrounding villages. The doctor there works primarily on her own and has therefore many functions. Apart from doing the strictly medical treatments she also functions as a nurse and as a teacher giving lessons to the community about health issues such as hygiene, birth control,family planning, and the most common conditions such as parasites, diarrhoea and dehydration. The clinic also works as the local pharmacy handing out necessary prescription drugs and supplements. Each year a new doctor works there as part of the doctors education. During that year, the doctor lives in one of the rooms of the clinic and is therefore practically on duty 24/7.

The clinic got majorly damaged during the heavy rainfall of September 2013. The rain was coming in through the ceiling of every room there and it still does whenever it rains. Many of the windows are shattered which has the effect that everything inside the clinic quickly gets covered by a layer of dust. Most of the furniture inside is broken or damaged and several basic things are lacking such as an oxygen tank for e.g. pulmonary and asthmatic conditions and also a flushing toilet.

Yet the clinic is a very active and lively place. The treated patients often stay and have a chat with the other patients waiting in line, and in the evening the youth of Juluchuca gathers around because of the wireless Internet connection in the clinic; the only one in the village.

IMG_1559Several days of my first week there the doctor has held classes in health issues with different groups of women, who receive financial support. I have also helped her vaccinating many of these women with the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine. Yesterday the doctor and I were invited to have lunch at one of the patients’ restaurant on the beach. It was a wonderful experience and an amazing possibility to get to know a bit more about the local culture and the people who live here.

The clinic and the doctor clearly contributes in an essential way to the local community, both in terms of prevention and treatment, especially for the poorer population, but is definitely in the need of thorough reconstruction economic support.

NOTE from Playa Viva Team – We are working with Malene and Jenny to develop a list of items that are needed, a set of repairs that need to be done and resources necessary to improve the clinic.  Stay tuned for more details. The goal, like our school improvement project, is to work with the locals to provide labor while we provide the needed resources to team up with guests and make needed improvements. If you will be at Playa Viva in the Winter and Spring of 2014 and would like to assist in improving the clinic, please let us know. All ideas welcome.