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WMA students cook up fund-raiser for Amazon healthcare

Date: 1/30/2012

Jan. 30, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — Students at Wilbraham & Monson Academy (WMA) are doing what they can to help improve health care for indigenous people in Brazil’s Amazon River Basin.

Teresa Kennedy and Austin Little, both members of the class of 2012, with the help of the Village Store and Café on Main Street, sold cups of chicken noodle soup on Jan. 26 with proceeds going to help the establishment of a health clinic for members of the Xavante tribe native to the area.

“We originally wanted to set up a collection jar at the Village Store, but the owner of the Village Store suggested that they sell soup and donate the profits to the [Xavante],” Little told Reminder Publications.

Kennedy and Little realized the severe needs of the Xavante people during their excursion to the South American country, part of an annual two-week eco-exploration excursion sponsored by WMA. The school is the only one in the world who has permission to visit the tribe, which has been featured in world-wide publications, including the New York Times.

“While visiting the tribe, Teresa Kennedy noticed that many of the Xavante children had open sores that looked infected,” Little explained. “She talked to me about this, and we decided that we would like to try to help the Xavante with medical care.”

The Xavante, according to material provided by WMA, were expelled from their land by the government in the 1960s, and relocated to an area where thousands died of disease and starvation. With the rainforest they called home now destroyed, the tribe keeps a small cattle herd on land that is nearly uninhabitable.

The Xavante have no modern medical resources and rely on shamans to do what they can. If a doctor is needed, a several-hour journey awaits the sick.

“The kids came back and they were charged up to help,” Meghan Rothschild, director of marketing at WMA and graduate of Minnechaug Regional High School’s class of 2002, said. Rothschild will be accompanying students on this year’s trip, slated for July 20, providing a video blog among other things to display the work students are performing.

Since their return, the students have been working on a plan to establish a foundation and raise money in order to provide the tribe with basic healthcare resources, as well as working with John Cain Carter, an internationally renowned environmental activist associated with the school’s annual trip.

“Teresa and I have been working with John Carter and he told us that he was working on setting up a permanent medical clinic,” he said. “When we returned to school this fall, Teresa and I began Skyping John to lay out the groundwork for fund-raising at WMA.”

To learn more about the project, future fund-raisers and how to contribute, contact Kennedy at, Little at or Rothschild at

Kennedy was not available for comment for this article because she was in Boston as a WMA representative at the Model United Nations.

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