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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI pharmacy professor travels the Amazon to aid Peruvian villagers

KINGSTON, RI-April 13, 1999 -- When Sandra Geletko went to Peru last winter, she spent nights fighting off mosquitoes and taking medicine to fight off intestinal worms. Yet, she called the trip one of the greatest experiences of her life.

Geletko, associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island, visited Iquitos, Peru, to help local villagers. Dr. Geletko paid her own travel expenses so she could volunteer as a pharmacist on a houseboat for an eight-day excursion of the Peruvian villages. Geletko, as well as 11 others traveled up and down the Amazon River.

Geletko, two physicians, two nurses, and eight volunteers, many of whom spoke Spanish, traveled aboard the "Chosen Vessel" to provide physical as well as spiritual support to the Peruvian people. First, the physicians and nurses examined the people for illnesses, including malaria, skin infections, snake bits, and intestinal worms. After seeing the physicians, the people then visited with Geletko who provided the medicine needed and instructions on how to use it. Medicine as common as Tylenol and iron vitamins were handed out to the villagers since the government covers only treatment of the illnesses but does not provide treatment that can prevent common symptoms. After distributing medicines, the team provided the villagers with a 10 day supply of the medicine which helped their common illness.

On her experience Geletko states: "It was the richest experience I have ever been on. I got back so much more than I could have ever imagined. The trip was very gratifying, to be able to help and have an impact on people is so rewarding and memorable. This trip will last in my memory for a long time."

Volunteers travel on excursions to Africa, Russia, and many parts of South America throughout the year with the Evangelism Task Force Organization. Trips can range in length from a week to two months. These journeys are offered to pharmacy students and volunteers of all ages. "It is a great experience for all people." Geletko said.

For more information, please contact the Evangelism Task Force at (912) 285-0779.

For More Information: David Lavalle, 874-2116

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