UMFK student group raising funds for medical mission

FORT KENT, Maine — Student members of the University of Maine at Fort Kent group UMFK Partners for International Relief are raising funds to help provide medical care in underserved areas of Peru and Costa Rica this year.

Nearly 50 students as well as other community members have signed up for the aid trips, according to UMFK PIR president Duane Belanger.

Members of the group will travel to Peru in May and Costa Rica in August.

“These trips allow students at UMFK to learn firsthand of the many health disparities that affect the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world while allowing the students to have a direct and meaningful experience in changing lives,” Belanger said.

Students with UMFK PIR traveled to Costa Rica in 2017 where they provided medical care to Nicaraguan refugees who sought safety there after being displaced by violent political unrest in their home country.

They also traveled to Brazil in 2016 to provide medical services to people living along the Amazon River there.

UMFK PIR will be holding fundraisers throughout the semester to collect money to help pay for the upcoming trips, which will cost each student in the neighborhood of $1,050 plus airfare of $500 to $600, according to Belanger.

Students also will be raising funds individually.

Representatives for UMFK PIR will hold a public presentation about the upcoming trips for the St. John Vianney Social Justice & Peace Commission on the evening of Feb 11.

The commission has aided in past trips.

Parishioners in member churches of the St. John Vianney Parish in the Fort Kent area donated supplies, which included, toothbrushes, diapers, children’s cough syrup, acetaminophen, lice treatment, vitamins, and children’s items such as coloring books, crayons, and playdough for the previous trip to Costa Rica.

The UMFK PIR group is hoping to make presentations to other local organizations for the upcoming medical missions as well, Belanger said.

UMFK president John Short said the UMFK PIR missions are a positive learning experience for students.

“I support and encourage UMFK students to be our ambassadors to the world,” Short said. “Our students look for ways to affect change in their world and they do a wonderful job. This is an experience that cannot be found in a classroom and I am so glad that our faculty help our students find unique experiences that enhance their education.”

For more information about the upcoming UMFK Partners for International Relief missions, or to schedule a presentation by members of the group, contact Duane Belanger by phone at (207) 231-1932, or via email at

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