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Tuacahn Teens Raise Funds for Mission to Ethiopia

ST. GEORGE – With a lack of medical resources, countries like Ethiopia are in desperate need of outside help. Remote villages like Dera, Ethiopia, count on the select few who are willing to do their part in showing up with a helping hand in the thick of suffering. Stephanie Yunker a, St. George resident and surgical technologist, is champion of outreach to some of the world desolate places. She said going on medical mission ours has helped shape her perspective in a way that nothing else could.

“Each time I come back with so much gratitude for the things that really matter,” Yunker said. “Like health and family, those things are invaluable.”

Yunker has travelled to Central Mexico, China, Ethiopia, and twice to Honduras on medical tours. She is currently raising funds to travel back to Ethiopia on another medical mission. Her enthusiasm for volunteer work is infectious. On this mission she will be serving alongside her daughter Shelby Ogden, 17, and Ogden’s best friend Riley Trueblood, 18. Both girls are seniors at Tuacahn High School.

“I enjoy helping people that I know really need the help,” Ogden said.

Ogden said she was always inspired by the stories and experiences that her mother brought back from her trips. Over the years she has marveled at the work her mother has been involved in.  She said she knew she wanted to someday join her mother on a humanitarian mission.

This time Yunker is heading to a remote village in Ethiopia as part of an optometry partnership. Optometry students from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, will assist during procedures like cataract surgery to improve eye sight. These are procedures that people of this remote village would not have access to. Yunker said she was able to be part of the same type of mission in Central Mexico and the results were incredible. Most patients had improved eye sight right after the surgery.

“One lady just cried and held my hands and kept thanking me over and over again, in Spanish,” Yunker said. “She was so grateful she could see.”

The trio has to raise their own funds for travel. They have hosted bake sales in the community and still need an additional $2,500. Local businesses are also involved in helping the trio get to Africa. St. George Chilli’s is doing a give back night in their honor. Customers can get 15 percent of their bill donated toward the cause if they mention Yunkers trip on Monday and on May 2.

Another fundraising bake sale and eye glass drive event is on Saturday, located on 190 South Main Street, just walking distance from the St. George Arts Festival. People can come donate old prescription glasses and get a free cupcake. Members of the community can also donate baked goods and purchase them as well. There will be face painting for the kids and henna tattoos for purchase.

“We would like people to come out and support us,” Yunker said. “The bake sale has something for everyone.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.

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