Mercy Sr. Karen Schneider stepped off a two-passenger plane in the middle of the jungle and walked into a malaria epidemic. It was 1995, and sickened Amerindian people, who populate this small South American country's interior, lined the floor of a two-room clinic. A 15-year-old boy died a few hours after she arrived. Schneider, at the time a fourth-year medical student at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn, had never seen a case of malaria before. "It was my own personal first disaster. It was me and easily 60 or 70 patients, and here I was a fourth-year medical student," Schneider said. "But nobody else died." Twenty years later, she's still saving lives here.
Catholic leaders have raised concerns that Latin American migrants are increasingly in danger of human rights violations, particularly the ballooning number of minors trying to make the trip from Central America to the United States alone.