Event Blog- Service Opportunity MEDLIFE

As many of you may have seen via social media or heard from your friends, the College of Charleston MEDLIFE chapter sent 47 students to Lima, Peru to work on community development projects. MEDLIFE stands for Medicine, education, and development for low income families everywhere. The trip consisted of a reality tour (in which we toured the villages surrounding lima to understand their access to basic needs such as sanitation, plumbing, electricity, water, etc.). Four days of mobile clinics in which CofC students assisted on everything from general doctors’ visits, pap smears and mammograms, and filling cavities and extractions. And on one other day students built a staircase so people could access their homes safely and transport items up and down without the worry of falling. In addition to this building stair cases helps these people access land titles which in turn can help them break the cycle of poverty since a large majority of them are illegally squatting. These Immigrants come from areas of rural Peru and Venezuela where they are fleeing in hope to gain access to education, medicine, and an all-around better life in Lima. Poverty is a wicked problem which MEDLIFE actively works to solve through the holistic approach of working hand in hand with the community to provide education, medicine, and development. At the core, MEDLIFE believes working with the community side by side will prove to be a more sustainable relationship rather than relying on donations and aid alone. This is especially critical when local governments change all the time cutting funding and access. There is environmental resistance such as access to food, shelter, and disease which limit the amount of people able to live in these areas sustainably. Carrying Capacity varies from village to village which reflects the access to resources, standards of living, technology and electricity, and waste generation. These villages currently have no waste disposal system in place so they bury their garbage or leave it to disintegrate which negatively impacts their health. MEDLIFE’s mission has similar aspects to that of Hans Rosling’s teachings. That in order to improve child survival allowing developing countries or regions need to have access to resources, medicine, and education and the western worlds role to lead by example. One huge influence that MEDLIFE also draws their inspiration from is a man named Paul Farmer. He is most known from the term coined ‘Structural Violence’ which in an essence means the systems we have in place inadvertently create barriers to access fundamental needs such as education, medicine, and development. It is my hope that by reading this you all become more interested in issues in development and the importance of becoming a global citizen to combat these complex system problems we have. Paul Farmer has lots of wonderful work and I encourage you to research him more. Also linked is the MEDLIFE website. You do not have to be a member to attend a service learning trip and they happen every year. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (hesskr@g.cofc.edu) if you’re craving to have your eyes opened to the world. https://www.medlifemovement.org/ You can also follow MEDLIFE on social media: (Instagram)@medlifecofc . Our next meeting is April 4th 7-8pm in SSMB 203 in which students will be sharing their experiences. I highly recommend you attend if interested there will be food.


Weeds, Dirt, and Dixie Plantation

Planting Day at Dixie


Did you know that The College of Charleston has a Sustainable Agriculture Program?

Did you know that The College of Charleston’s Sustainable Agriculture Program has three downtown urban gardens AND a two-acre student garden at Dixie Plantation in Ravenelle, SC?

I know what you are thinking, “Where is Ravenelle and why would I ever go there?”

As far as proximity goes, it is a bit of a drive from The College of Charleston’s downtown campus, 18.6 miles to be exact. But the good news is that if you are lacking in a vehicle or in motivation to make the drive then the Sustainable Agriculture Program will happily partner you up with fellow students to carpool out the plantation and trust me it is worth it.

When you first turn on to the dirt road at Dixie Plantation you start to get excited. Big old trees line the driveway and the occasional houses and businesses that were visible before now almost completely disappear. This is where you start to get an idea of the scale of the property, 881 acres, and the remote positioning that preserves the land’s integrity and beauty. About halfway down the driveway, you pass the original gates and the hall of angel oak trees that used to line the path to the original home.

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A couple turns and gates later you arrive at the student gardens. Complete with a custom gate and more than six beds for planting, the student garden at Dixie Plantation is the perfect environment for any student looking to relieve some stress and grow some vegetables on a historic Charleston property. Lucky for you there is an event at the property almost monthly, weekly during the busy season. At the garden, students focus on growing a variety of leafy greens and vegetables that are harvested and sold to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital. Talk about all the good vibes, your plants get to feed the sick and recovering sea turtles!

Aside from the garden, the Sustainable Agriculture Program hosts workshops and Expos in their newly built research facility on the property. In the past, they have hosted honey bee expos with the Charleston Bee Keeper Association, composting workshops, and other education events. They are also there almost every Saturday if you just have some free time and would like to help in the garden.

That is what my husband and I did! We woke up early, put on some comfortable clothes, and drove out to Dixie Plantation. We met up with Sean Dove and friends on a chilly Saturday morning to participate in the Dixie Planting Day. We were assigned a bed and were provided with tools to clear out weeds and debris from the soil so that it could be planted in the next few days. We were cold and our noses were running but we had so much fun. After we cleared our bed we took a walk through the grounds and learned a bit about the history of the plantation. It was a Saturday morning well spent.


So if you are thinking, “Wow! I want to grow veg for the sea turtles!” or maybe just “I would like to know more about these Sustainable Agriculture programs. ” Then you should reach out to Abbie Cain at caina@cofc.edu and request to be added to the email list.

Hope to see you all out in the garden!





Oyster Restoration Activity

My teammates and I have committed to several community service opportunities. One of the events involved an oyster project with the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement (SCORE) program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). This event was split up into two parts: oyster bagging and reef construction. Oyster bagging took place during the fall of 2017, while the reef construction occurred in the spring of 2017. The goals of this program are to initiate oyster restoration efforts, educate citizens of the value oysters have on our ecosystem, and to influence the higher-ups in hopes of better habitat protection as well as better restoration funding. Not only do oyster reefs provide a habitat for marine life and restoration of the oyster population, they may also prohibit nearby shoreline erosion which is one factor in coastal climate impacts. Another benefit of oyster reefs on the shoreline is water filtration and coastal flood prevention. After a short introduction the team was taken to a huge pile of oyster shells and given gloves, buckets, shovels, and net-like bags. As we paired off, one person was to hold the bag steady while their partner filled it ¾ of the way with shells. The bags were tied and loaded onto a truck. Each partner took turns with the shoveling until the entire pile of oyster shells was gone which took about 2 hours. We created over 200 oyster bags that day and were invited back for the second task in the springtime due to high oyster recruitment heights in the warmer months. The second event took place at Wappoo Cut Landing. As a team we lined up across from each other as we unloaded a truck filled with oyster bags. Like an assembly line we tossed each bag down the line to be loaded onto a boat. Once the boat had an adequate amount of bags a group of 7 people loaded onto the boat and were taken about 0.5 miles away from the dock to unload the bags onto the shoreline. There were 5 boat trips in total each taking a different group of people to the shoreline. At the shoreline, each group would line up along the water as each bag was tossed to the end and placed on the muddy shoreline. Several slips, scrapes, and falls took place during the process but with great teamwork we managed to construct an oyster reef. This oyster restoration event served as a great team bonding activity and shows how much we can get done by working together. The same goes for the community as a whole. We can help improve the environment if we all contribute to the many environmental practices such as recycling, decreasing land and water pollution, decreasing land degradation/deforestation, and cutting back on the many resources that we take advantage of. Aside from teamwork, we were reminded that marine life has its own connection of systems that must be restored in order to sustain life. Without reefs the surrounding marine species have lost essential food and shelter which in turn results in less marine species, oysters and fish included. Lack of oysters can result in unfiltered water and less seafood for humans. Likewise, reef less shores make the shore more susceptible to erosion meaning less land for humans.
The track team will be returning to DNR to participate in this event again tomorrow morning. I will post follow-up pictures/videos below.