URI student brings Adopt A Doctor program to Hopkins Hall

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KINGSTON, R.I — May 2, 2006 — A little money goes a long way, especially for people of Malawi, Africa. In this case, a little money is $100 each month, which pays the stipend of Dr. Carlos Varela, a medical doctor, to treat Malawians. By contributing their dimes, quarters and dollars each month, URI students have “adopted” Varela.

The Adopt A Doctor program seeks to reverse the brain drain experienced by physicians working in impoverished countries. The organization provides financial incentives for physicians to stay in their countries and continue to practice medicine.

Grier Stanley, resident assistant for Hopkins Hall, learned about the program when she attended World AIDS Day at URI last semester. Inspired by a presentation given by Ray Rickman, co-founder of Adopt a Doctor and former Rhode Island state representative, Stanley brought the idea back to Hopkins residents, who agreed to sponsor a doctor.

Each month Stanley counts the donations, making sure they equal $100, fills out a money order and sends it to the Adopt A Doctor headquarters in Providence, which sends it onto Varela.

“I’m hoping to continue the monthly donation each semester,” says Grier who is finishing her junior year. After graduation, she plans to continue the program through an organization or educational setting.

The Adopt-A-Doctor program currently sponsors doctors in four countries: Haiti, Liberia, Malawi, and Sierra Leone. Each month, the sponsored doctors are given a $100 stipend. In exchange, each doctor signs a contract agreeing to remain in his or her chosen country for seven consecutive years.

Stanley, a Manchester, Conn. native, majors in human development and family studies and minors in psychology. She plans to become a social worker in an inner-city high school after completing graduate studies.

Stanley is involved in other community service activities. She is a volunteer driver for Rhody Rides, a designated driver program that provides free rides home. She has been a youth basketball coach every summer for five years in her hometown and during the past six Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, she and her father have delivered food baskets to families in need in their community through their church.

At some point, Stanley would like to go to Africa. “ If I went there I would want to help motivate the children and help show them their possibilities and opportunities in life,” she said. While there, she would try to contact Dr. Varela.

“I would strongly encourage the URI community to contribute any type of donation to this organization,” said Stanley. “Whether they add monthly donations to an existing adopted doctor or sponsor their own doctor.”

For more information on the Adopt A Doctor program, and how to make a contribution, visit the organization’s website at www.adoptadoctor.org or e-mail Grier Stanley at gstanley@mail.uri.edu.

URI News Bureau Photo by Michael Salerno Photography.