Ruth Bell Riverboat


Hospital Website
Mission Organization
Samaritan's Purse operates the Ruth Bell riverboat in the Bolivian Amazon Basin, bringing medical and dental aid to remote riverside communities, along with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Many communities in the Bolivian Amazon are isolated from the rest of the world. People have no access to land or air transport, communication networks, or basic humanitarian services. Consequently, many people are unaware of basic health and sanitation practices and suffer from a variety of illnesses, both medical and dental. Many have yet to embrace salvation through faith in Christ.
Team Recruiting

The dates for each team are decided by the Samaritan's Purse-Bolivia office, focusing on times of the year when the river is at its highest, and allowing the riverboat to reach the tributaries farther upstream. Dates are generally received around the end of October for the following year, and recruiting is begun at that time. E-mails are sent out to those individuals who have voiced interest, and team slots are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. On average, four (4) teams are planned for each year between the months of February and June.

Due to the size of the riverboat, teams are limited in size and consist of up to six (6) volunteers: 1–2 physicians, 1 dentist, 1 nurse, 1 dental hygienist, and 1 dental assistant. Unfortunately, due to the size constraints, non-medical family members/friends are unable to serve unless they are willing to be trained on-site as the dental assistant, or they speak fluent Spanish and can serve as an interpreter.

Fly by commercial air to Bolivia. You will stay in La Paz for one day and then take an in-country flight to Trinidad where you will board the riverboat. Typically the Ruth Bell will depart from and return to Trinidad, however each trip schedule can be slightly different. You will fly back to La Paz where you will spend two nights before returning to the U.S.
Time Difference
-1 hour Eastern Daylight Savings Time, U.S.A. Same time as Eastern Standard Time, U.S.A.
Bolivia has a population of 11,513,100 (2019 est.) The largest of approximately three dozen indigenous groups are the Quechua (29% or 2.5 million), Aymara (24% or 2 million), Chiquitano (1% or 180,000), and Guarani (1% or 125,000). No other indigenous groups represent more than 0.5% of the population. Bolivia is one of the least developed countries in South America. Around 51% of its people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live under the poverty line of 2 USD a day.
Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani are four main languages spoken throughout Bolivia. Translators are available to assist medical personnel treating patients on the Ruth Bell.
The temperature stays consistent year-round, with highs in the mid 80s Fahrenheit during the day and lows in the mid 50s Fahrenheit at night. The rainy season usually begins in November and continues until the beginning of April. April through November is generally very dry. This time of year can be very dusty and might not be a very enjoyable time for allergy sufferers.
During your time in Beni, you will be staying on the boat. Accommodations on the boat include a dining hall, two small depositories (check-up rooms), a kitchen, and two bathrooms on the first deck. The second deck includes the captain's bridge, seven cabins with twin bunk beds, and two bathrooms with showers.
Local food including rice, chicken, fish, and fried bananas will be served.
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