While most of us were enjoying the last few weeks of summer, Amelia Capotosta, Ed. D., RN, was filling prescriptions for hundreds of patients in South Sudan, Africa.
Dr. Capotosta traveled with an independent faith-based group for a mission trip to the newly- formed country. The group visited different villages and spent the days providing medical care to the local people.
"You saw a lot of malaria, respiratory problems, worms and fungus," said the Chairperson of the Health Professions Division. "Some of what you saw, too, was typical aches and pains that you see here. But, there, it's worse because the sicknesses are not treated."
For Dr. Capotosta, this was one of several trips she has taken over the last few years. She first got involved when she saw an advertisement at her church. She then went on the Internet to research different organizations, places and what kind of needs existed. Dr. Capotosta ultimately settled on a faith-based group that exemplified her Christian beliefs.
"I feel it is important to treat others as I would want to be treated," said Dr. Capotosta, who has also traveled to Ghana, India, Haiti and South Africa. "To me that means sometimes getting out of my comfort zone and being willing to take time, effort and money to relate to people, to do something good that counts for more than the here and now."
Dr. Capotosta traveled with 10 other medical professionals or people familiar with the healthcare environment on this trip. Long-term missionaries hosted them on this trip and provided shelter at a compound where they were also running a dental clinic.
Her living arrangements featured a building without electric and cold running water was limited, so they had to be very conservative. Dr. Capotosta also said there were lizards that would run through now and then and bats outside at night. For meals, the group dined on fried bread and hard boiled eggs for breakfast, and rice and beans for dinner.
The villages the group visited were very rural and required traveling on roads that would be closed here in our country due to their bad condition. It was the rainy season, so she said it rained about every day.
The villages they traveled to often had no electric or running water and the people lived in mud huts with thatched roofs. She said the people were industrious and many of them were farmers.
While there are numerous countries in African featured on the news for their dire conditions or tribal wars, Dr. Capotosta said she never had any fear about traveling there to help.
"I could go outside and get hit by a bus," she said. "I've never had an issue on a trip. This time there was some fighting that broke out again in the north and some of our translators were called back to active duty. But it did not bother us."
So just why does she risk her safety, take 20-hour flights and travel to all of these countries? She admits that it is rewarding to see the reactions of the local people. "They are very grateful and appreciative. In my role, the translators are very important so that the people understand what medication they are taking and how to take it.
Although, Dr. Capotosta also noted that many of the people spoke English. She said there were schools in the villages, although often it may be only one person attending from a family since they did have to pay a small amount to attend.
Dr. Capotosta rewarded herself at the end of the trip with an extended stay that allowed her to take a safari and see all of the amazing animals.
Despite traveling to numerous counties already over the last few years, Dr. Capotosta is already looking forward to planning next year's mission.