A group of Pacific Union College students and staff spent a week providing medical care and health information to villagers along the Amazon River—part of a medical service trip in conjunction with Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Brazil, August 21-29. The trip continued a recent increase in focus on humanitarian service at the college.
The group traveled along the Amazon River aboard a boat, the Luzeiro 26, stopping in the remote villages which line the river. The Luzeiro 26 is one of ADRA’s river boats dedicated to reaching the villagers in the interior Amazon Basin in Brazil.
With the help of local professionals, the group set up medical clinics for villagers to consult with a physician or receive dental care. They also conducted medical screenings, health presentations, workshops, and expos to aid the communities in preventing future medical issues. The educational programs make a notable impact in the locals’ lives, explains Fabio Maia, service and missions coordinator at Pacific Union College.
“The problems you see in these communities are the same,” says Maia. “A lot of the people are dehydrated because they don’t drink enough water and they sweat like crazy—it’s 100 degrees and 100 percent humid, so people complain about headaches all the time. Talking about water helped them understand they should be drinking more water.”
The trip’s focus on health care and education made it an especially attractive option for students in the health sciences to gain valuable field experience working under consummate medical professionals.
“This was my first mission trip so I was pretty excited,” says Bianca Tolan, a sophomore pre-med biology student from Yorba Linda, Calif. “I wanted to get experience in the medical field to make sure that was what I wanted to do. At first I was debating between dentistry and medicine but I’m definitely going into medicine now.”
“I felt like I was actually doing something worthwhile,” Tolan adds. “It was great playing with the children, experiencing the culture and trying new foods. It was just a feeling of satisfaction—meaningfully helping people out [and] meeting them.”
This summer’s trip is only the first planned to the region as PUC aims to build a lasting relationship with the communities along the river, Maia explains. An additional trip is planned for spring break as a service learning project for a biology class.