About 10 months ago we introduced our JMI supporters to the idea of sending medical/dental teams to various places around the world where access to care was remote, inadequate or posed additional hardships on the poor. For those of you who have patiently waited, we are pleased to announce our first trip is scheduled for the Amazon River in Brazil the first week of December! (precise dates to be determined)
As with JMI’s late spring mission trips to the region, our medical/dental volunteers will be sleeping and eating most of the week on a boat. But unlike the spring rainy season, December falls in the dry season. Whereas the river is engorged in May, the floodwaters begin receding dramatically from our summer to our winter.
The problem with healthcare in the jungle is one of access. Sick people must either face long and arduous journeys by motorized canoes to the city of Manaus or wait for infrequent visits from medical agents, or rely upon local shamans or witchdoctors.
Our format for the trip will be to divide our team’s time between training and treatment. Our partnering organization, Ray of Hope, has a large facility in the jungle from which we will conduct two or three days of training for mostly untrained or minimally experienced individuals representing a large number of villages. Some of these will be midwives, some will be medical agents assigned to territories and some will simply be people with an interest in helping their communities. On this stage of the trip, we’ll focus on a broad spectrum of training to include diagnosis and treatment for common maladies and conditions, first aid training and provide trainees with an understanding of, and “pharmacy” of medications to dispense.
On the second phase of the trip, we’ll travel to villages along the river to see and treat patients. When not providing care, volunteers will get to experience all the unique elements of the culture that we normally enjoy on our Brazil mission trips: educational jungle walks, spotting Cayman alligators, fishing for piranha and visiting primitive tribes.
The number of volunteers on this trip are limited to what our boat can accommodate – about 12 people – and we will need a minimum of 10 signups to make the trip. The cost of the trip is estimated to be about $2500. A doctor trained in palliative care will organize the professional aspects of the trip for us and interest has already been expressed by a critical care nurse to participate. Ideally we would have some specializations represented such as pediatric care, obstetrics, an internist and especially a dentist, but all disciplines will be useful and welcomed. References about the trip to professional friends and colleagues are greatly appreciated and I hope you’ll forward this message to your colleagues with your personal endorsement.
In addition to the benefits of the trip, we hope to encourage ongoing support for those we train. This support will include regular financial assistance for salaries and to keep our rudimentary pharmacies stocked as well as the provision of instructional books and materials for ongoing education.
I hope you’ll prayerfully consider using your healing gifts on behalf of the people of the Amazon this December. Please register your interest or request for more information on our website at www.justiceandmercy.org/advocate/jmi-on-call/.