A Lake area graduate pursuing a medical sciences degree at the University of Missouri is collecting supplies and raising funds to support a week-long free medical mission to Nicaragua this January.

A Lake area graduate pursuing a medical sciences degree at the University of Missouri is collecting supplies and raising funds to support a week-long free medical mission to Nicaragua this January.

Laura Huddleston, a graduate of Tuscumbia High School and current sophomore, will travel to the Central American country with Global Medical Training - Mizzou, a branch of the international humanitarian non-profit that works with college students to provide clinics for free basic medical and dental services in medically deprived communities.

From January 3 through the 11, Huddleston and a group of MU students, plan to set up headquarters in Grenada but will travel to five local villages handing out supplies, assisting with basic diagnosis’ and even writing prescriptions, all of which is overseen by a local group of licensed practitioners.

Huddleston is currently collecting items such as toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, diapers, non-winter clothing, shoes and socks for any size or age, hair brushes, reading and sunglasses, bug spray, and sunscreen.

“I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip and being able to explore the medical field as well as interact with patients; it sort of confirms this is what I want to be doing,” Huddleston said. “We’ll also be doing home visits for people unable to attend the clinics.”

According to GMT - Mizzou, a total of 4,304 patients have been treated by more than 450 student volunteers on five previous trips to Nicaragua while 89-percent of those students continue on to a career in health after graduation.

Huddleston said she plans to apply to MU’s ultrasound program this spring and is looking forward to learning more about the medical profession through this trip. Volunteers undergo three training sessions as well as several meetings and seminars before they’re allowed to provide the free services, she said.

“I’m a little bit nervous about the language barrier. I have taken some Spanish classes, but it’s not the same. Luckily, we are going to have translators,” Huddleston said. “I’m really excited about the patient interaction and the freedom we have to provide medical treatments. This is sometimes the only medical treatment villagers can get and will often travel and wait for our clinic to come if they’re having medical issues.”

Huddleston has set up a variety of fundraisers including a Chili Supper on Sunday, December 3 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Tuscumbia High School Cafeteria where individual classrooms have been collecting donations since the beginning of this month. A GoFund me page has also been set up at gofundme.com/kpnj9-trip-to-nicaragua to raise funds for travel and living expenses.