I have a dream that is in the makings of being realized. It is a medical mission trip to the Amazon in Brazil. Now after checking out what my inspiration was all my years at the College of Charleston, let me tell you what I was inspired to do. When I graduated in 1983, my only goal in life was to float down the Amazon River in a dugout canoe. Honest! I had planned to join the Peace Corps when I graduated and then after that, begin the world of work. I had taken so much Spanish that I was fluent. I was enamored with the Yanomamo and all those exotic cultures I had studied for so long.
The Yanomamo are a fierce, warring, tribe of people who live in the rain forests of central Brazil. They have no real written language, wear minimal clothing and are patriarchial. They do have a detailed religion based on story telling and the use of hallucinogenic drugs. They are, I think, the last population of the world to be exposed to modern civilization. I do know that many books have been written about them and their culture is being destroyed as the rainforests are being cut down. For more on the Yanomamo check out Spirit of the Rainforest by Mark Ritchie.
Margaret Mead was my heroine. I had read all of her books and wanted to do the sort of things she had done. My favorite book by her was Growing Up In New Guinea . It was written in 1930 about the people who lived in Manus in the Admiralty Islands who had not been exposed to what we call the outside world at all. I still have a copy of that book today.
Through my church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, I have the once in a life time chance to actually go to the Amazon and see it for myself. It is on a week long medical mission to Brazil to provide medical, dental, social and spiritual assistance to neglected villagers who live on the river-banks of the Amazon Basin. Are any of them Yanomamo? I am not sure. Some may be. I can’t wait to see. Funding is still being worked out. I have gotten some funds so far and others are in the work. The actual trip is $1938.00 and includes airfare and all transportation roundtrip and overseas accomodations. I will have to drive to Orlando as that is the departure city. That cost does not include all the immunizations that I need which is an additional $600.00. Hopefully I will be able to get enough to cover the trip and shots. I will take care of anything else I may need. The cost of the Brazilian visas is the next big thing I will have to take care of myself in addition to the required love offering for the Brazilian crew.
I will be on a medical barge which, from the pictures, are not like the sturdy, sleek boats I see in the Charleston Marina. It will be a different world there. I will be the first to find out exactly where the life jackets are on that barge! (LOL) I feel so close to this happening. I have prayed and prayed and I now leave it up to God that the additional funding in the works will pan out. Otherwise, I might not get to go if I have to fund so much of what is left on my own. That would be very hard right now, financially.
When I think about this trip and the reality of it, it brings me to tears at times. I still can’t believe that I actually get to go. That is what is so incredible. I can’t believe that I get to actually go. When I think about career choices I took the path of sociology. I worked in healthcare/client benefits in many various job situations, my entire career. It started with nursing homes, then proceeded on to two facilities for head injured adults, then social services and insurance. Those types of jobs can be very draining just given the need of all the people you deal with. The path of anthropology is what I wish I had taken. We all look back sometimes and wonder what another choice would have meant. I am just glad that at least now I will get a little taste of it.
It is a dream. My dream. Almost realized.
Praise be to God.