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Students travel to Tanzania, participate in medical service

| Wednesday, January 18, 2017

While other students relaxed at home over winter break, two Saint Mary’s students, junior Melissa Montes and junior Lauren Burnett, traveled to Tanzania with MEDLIFE, an organization that provides medicine, education and development to low income families in Ecuador, Peru and Tanzania.

Montes, a biology major, said they shadowed local doctors, taught children how to brush their teeth and gave medicine to those ailing in the community. The group also built sanitary bathrooms, Burnett said.

“[We] built the whole thing from scratch,” Burnett said.

After finishing painting the walls, the girls painted the College’s French cross to commemorate their service, she said.

Montes said the work the group did left a lasting effect on the community. The group of 50 students treated 626 adults and 177 children during their time there.

“The impact you can have in one week is incredible,” Montes said. “If you make a difference for one person, you make a difference in their world. You’ve changed the world.”

Part of MEDLIFE’s involvement in communities is creating a pharmacy. According to Burnett, the community in Tanzania ran out of pain medication every day.

“[The community is] used to suffering every day,” Burnett said. “You’re out [of medication] until the next group comes in.”

Burnett, a business major, said she started the MEDLIFE club at Saint Mary’s with Montes serving as the trip advisor. She said anyone can join MEDLIFE because the company trains its volunteers

“You don’t need a medical background,” Burnett said.

Montes said she joined MEDLIFE because she wanted to participate in service.

“Saint Mary’s as a school [and] as a community empowers you to do what you love,” Montes said. “The foundations [and] the cornerstones of Saint Mary’s push you to[ward service].”

Burnett said she was ready to help others and, through Saint Mary’s, she was given the opportunity.

“Saint Mary’s promotes you to be independent,” Burnett said.

Burnett said she hopes the chapter will have their first trip over summer break.


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