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Rachel Dunham, college student spends time in Brazil


Rachel Dunham, far left, listens to a patient's heart as she helps provide medical services for the local people on a medical boat.

From the rivers of the Amazon region to the striking reefs and beaches of the coast, Brazil is a varied and beautiful country. I had the privilege of spending nearly a month in South America - and mainly Brazil - this summer.

I went with a group of 17 people from my school - Sterling College. After arriving in Brazil, we spent the first week on tributaries of the Amazon River on a medical boat. Several other pre-medical students and I were part of the medical team that accompanied the boat, which is run by the Presbyterian Church of Manaus (a city of northern Brazil).

While on the river, we stopped in a village each day and provided medical services for local people; they do not have the convenience of a local hospital or doctor and are very grateful for the services the boat provides.

Other members of our team did construction work and vacation Bible school activities for the many children. In the evenings we held a worship service for the community - I loved learning the Portuguese songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the many experiences we had. Getting to help a little with the medical work and learning from the Brazilian staff was a lot of fun.

Rachel Dunham interacts with the children from Brazil. She spent a month this summer helping the people with health care and conducting Vacation Bible school.

Interacting with the local children was also a highlight for me. I picked up a little Portuguese and enjoyed communicating despite the language barrier. The children were always curious and loved the attention freely giving hugs and laughing at my broken attempts at Portuguese.

After the week on the river, we flew across Brazil to the east coast to the city of Maceio. There we helped with a Vacation Bible school and did work projects at a Bible church in a poor part of the city.

We stayed with an American missionary family who live in Brazil and who graciously shared their home with all of us.

They showed us around the city while telling us about their work and Brazilian culture. I stayed with them for about two and a half weeks helping with the kids and doing whatever was needed. I learned a great deal and had a lot of fun. The people were charming and I will always remember the people I connected with while in Brazil. It was an awesome experience and taught me many things.

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