Saving lives far from home
Chris Kellner has traveled into the jungle by plane, helicopter and canoe. He has cared for patients with snake bites, piranha bites and malaria. He has treated wounds, caused by an infection spread through sand flies, common in tropical areas.
“It’s an entirely different world than what I see here in Chicago,” says Kellner, who works in nuclear medicine at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.
Kellner has volunteered with Amazon Promise, a nonprofit that provides medical and dental care to remote populations in Peru, for more than 15 years. Each year, he travels to Iquitos, Peru, to spend two to three weeks working with a team of doctors, dentists, nurses and others to care for populations in the surrounding remote jungle villages.
“We do just about everything, from providing mosquito nets to teaching people about hygiene to treating illnesses and injuries,” he says. “We’ve saved people who were just days away from agonizing deaths due to snake bites. We’ve improved the quality of their lives by diagnosing and curing ailments. If we can’t help them, we raise funds among ourselves to send them on a helicopter to a less remote area where they can get the level of care they need.”
Kellner says he has always been interested in adventure travel, and volunteering with Amazon Promise gives him a chance to explore remote areas while helping others.
“For the same price as having an adventure trip, you can instead volunteer and get a much bigger reward,” he says. “You can go on vacation and buy a souvenir at a gift shop, or you can take home a bowl you used to share a drink with the Apu, or leader, of a village. It’s so much more meaningful.”
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