Alter do Chão, located in the municipal district Santarém, part of the state Pará, sits in a jungle landscape in Amazonian Brazil along the breathtaking coastline of the massive Rio Tapajós. With arguably one of the most beautiful fresh water beaches in the world, Alter do Chão gives you a Caribbean-type escape in the heart of Amazonia. The Guardian ranked Alter do Chão the #1 beach destination in Brazil, and considering the thousands of miles of coastline Brazil offers, it’s quite amazing that you can find such an incredible beach in the middle of the Amazonian region. However, while the landscape of the region is undeniably breathtaking, VAW chose to expand to this part of Brazil for much more than just a great beach day.
The Amazonian region of Brazil holds some of the most isolated indigenous tribes and populations not just in Latin America but in the whole world. The communities we will work with in our clinics will range from tribes very similar to if not including some of the same the tribes as in the article above. Serving these communities is truly unique from most other VAW Medical Outreach trips in that the patients we see will have had little exposure to western medicinal practices prior to our clinics. While we hope to help introduce and integrate some modern medicine practices with the communities’ traditional beliefs, we also believe it’s equally as important that the volunteers attending the trips be exposed to a different way of viewing medicine from a more natural, traditional approach. The relationship between volunteer and patient will be one in which educational practices will flow in both directions, and both parties will experience something completely new. We hope that as a result, our volunteers feel enriched from their unique experience and that we can help communities revolutionize the way they view healthcare and sustainability.
What makes our new site in Brazil quite different from any of our pre existing sites is the way in which our groups will travel and live during the outreach trip and the level of immersion their lifestyle will have in the local communities. While we are very confident this site will be a spectacular experience for our volunteers, it is not necessarily the trip for everyone. During their ten-day stay in the region, the teams will live and travel through the Tapajós River on boats fully equipped with a kitchen staff, crew and all the necessary equipment to sleep on the boats. Each group will be able to experience an entirely new way of living, as the volunteers and on-site staff will be living on a boat with very little running water or electricity and will sleep in hammocks at night. In addition, there will be nights where the teams will dock and spend the night with some of the communities. In the process, we will create group educational programs with the local communities in which traditional rituals and forms of medicine will blend into one with modern medicinal practices, creating an environment in which both students and community members learn from one another and teach one another simultaneously.
Our new site in Brazil, like all our sites, has its own setting and its own personality. As Volunteers Around the World continues to grow and expand into different regions of the globe, our organization will continue to provide more dynamic opportunities to volunteer your time, donate your energy, and share new, incredible experiences across cultures. We hope you take the time to explore all that VAW has to offer and, in turn, all that you can offer to the world.