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Group Heads South To Help

Local organization building orphanages in South America.
ALTOONA - Love in Action International Ministries has been around since 1985, and in 2004 they began to focus on opening up orphanages in South America. On Monday they took off for Bolivia, with five doctors from UPMC Altoona on board.
 
Gary Zimmerman has made this trip dozens of times.
 
Zimmerman and his wife Jerri live in Altoona, but their work is much further away.
 
“The goal is to rescue children who have been abandoned, orphaned, abused or extremely poor,” Love in Action International Ministries Director Gary Zimmerman says.
 
Love in Action opened their first orphanage in a small town in Bolivia in 2008. Since then, they've acquired the land to open two more.
 
“The exciting part now is that when we go down and see the kids,” Zimmerman says.
 
The Zimmerman's shifted their focus to orphanages in 2004 after their daughter Andrea died from a rare form of cancer.
 
The orphanage is called “Andrea's Home for Hope and Joy” and for the next two weeks, five doctors from UPMC Altoona will help with all their medical needs.
 
 “They announce over a public announce speaker in town that they have American doctors in town and people just come so hopefully will be able to help them,” UPMC Altoona Dr. Deborah Pike says.
 
This is Dr. Pike's 4th trip, and this time she's brought a team, including a few first-timers.
 
"There's no diagnostic testing, no pharmacy right down the street that people have access too so it's a whole different way of dealing with medicine and helping people that way," Dr. Pike says.
 
And Zimmerman says after two weeks, the most important lesson people learn, is appreciation.
 
“They come back realizing they've been blessed to be born in America. It puts things in perspective,” Zimmerman says.
 
Love in Action is looking to open two more orphanages. One in Bolivia and another in Honduras. If you’re interested in helping launch one of the orphanages visit their website.

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