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Mission of Hope

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Monday, February 26, 2007

By Bonnie Black

Today is the last full day for all 54 travelers – now viewed as veterans – in service to our friends here in Nicaragua. But, we were not slouches! In a way, it felt busier than other days as we had so many projects to bring to closure. As Marty Mannix at this morning’s meeting, we were all going to be multi-tasking in a heavy duty way! Eric Rodrigue and Genevieve Barry had stayed at the Flores’ home last night and thanked us so much for allowing them to continue with us on a work day today. “We are proud to be working with you,” said Eric as we ended our morning meeting.

Our Leadership Team had a quick meeting to discuss and decide on a couple of items as well as defer others to our next monthly meeting coming soon. It is interesting to note that the cost of supplying the library with a reserve copy of all of the textbooks for students up to secondary was only $161; the nominal cost of Spanish-English dictionaries was then added to that amount. The cost of the secondary textbooks will be given to Mauricio soon and we will be able to provide the library with those, we hope.

(l-r): Diane Crosier, Lauren MacMillen (hidden) and Alexa Cosgro are part of an all-women's crew which built the home in memory of Jim Lundy's mother. Bright and early this morning, our all-female crew headed out to build a house for a blind man who had moved in with his 2 grand-nieces for they are his only family. This home was build with funds from the Mission of Hope Leadership Team in memory of Jim Lundy’s mother who passed away this past year. It is fitting as she had cataracts which limited her sight. Oscar supervised the crew of Diane Crosier, Michelle Armani, Sarah LeFloch, Kendra Kline, Laura MacMillan, Gen Hill and Alexa Cosgro. Photo Caption: (l-r): Diane Crosier, Lauren MacMillen (hidden) and Alexa Cosgro are part of an all-women’s crew which built the home in memory of Jim Lundy’s mother.

Our Environmental Committee, chaired by Marilee Patnode, began our on-the-ground relationship with ECHO this morning. She and Matt Kennedy, along with Sister Debbie and Yamilette Flores, met with Mel Landers about the Moringa tree concept we began later this afternoon. He is an interesting person to speak with about various environmental issues, including potential seismic activity in this country. Seeds provided through ECHO were given to the sisters at the Angels of Hope orphanage in El Crucero to plant and will be taken to Parajito Azul Disability Center, too.

Many of our travelers, knowing this was our last full day on the ground, purchased t-shirts and the new pants at the Nino school store….so you will see even more people sporting the school uniform at home now!

Kevin Cosgro and Evan LeFloch went to the Parajito Azul Disability Center to make the electrical repairs needed that they ascertained last week. Genevieve Barry went with them to see the facility for herself.

A project for Nicasa today was replacing the walkway into the enclosed area, removing the stones, cacti and patched concrete first. Our men wielding the pickaxe and hauling the broken pieces were Evan LeFloch, Jon Provost, Paul O‘Connell, Matt Jennings, Andrew Garami, Louis Racette and Kevin McGowan. They then placed the forms and poured the concrete. But I don’t want to minimize what they did, for here you need to through the concrete on the ground, add water and shovel it in order to mix it. That took quite a while with many participating, including the all female crew which had already returned from building their home.

Alyssa Malone (l) assists the doctor dispensing parasite medications to first graders at Colegio Nino Jesus de Praga.Early this morning, as first grade through grade 6 went to Children Feeding Children, they stopped first at the clinic for the doctor to give them parasite medicine. Marisa Rose Wolosz and Alyssa Malone helped by pouring water in to the cups which each student used to consume the tablet. It is our hope that this treatment – which will have to be taken again in 6 months – will reduce the number of children with gastrointestinal complaints and allow them to concentrate on their schooling more. Photo Caption: Alyssa Malone (l) assists the doctor dispensing parasite medications to first graders at Colegio Nino Jesus de Praga.

A group put together the First Aid kits which Bill Calmbacher will present to the 22 Red Cross-trained women in the barrio. The precisely completed kits under Bill’s direction, were compiled by Flo Renaud, Marilyn Knutson, Marisa Wolosz and Gen Thompson.

At 10:30am, a bus left for Nejapa where we headed to meet the 20 newly sponsored students (of the 200+ who attend) and spend a short time with them. Vitamins were presented which were donated by Richard Price as well as gift boxes from the sacramental class at St. John’s to the third graders who are in the program at Nejapa. We again performed our “Mission #23” theme song for the students and the sisters as well as the priest. Again, they followed with the Spanish version of the unicorn song. Our guests, Genny and Eric came with us and enjoyed the time together. Each of us were blessed with a handmade card created by the sisters the previous evening. They had enough that we were able to bring back enough for every traveler on mission.

A time that many of us had been looking forward to was at 1pm today – the giving of sponsorship gifts to our families. We planned our entire work schedule today around this event as it is so heart-warming to those of us who sponsor students here at Nino. Lots of hugs go around and a few eyes get wet, too!

(l-r) Matt Kennedy, Rachel Luscombe and young Gabriel plant the moringa seeds which should be ready to plant as seedlings in about two weeks.This afternoon a group trekked down to Nora’s house and out to the field in back which is actually owned by Mauricio. He and Mel Landers (from ECHO) ascertained the best place to begin our Moringa tree project. The rest of our Environmental Committee joined Marilee and Matt Kennedy planting the seeds: Rachel Luscombe, Michelle Armani, Marilyn Knutson as well as Diane Crosier who was wonderful working with the young boys who tagged along. We had Gabriel, who is Nora’s son, as well as another young boy and Chico helping to plant the seeds in the plastic bags donated by Price Chopper, poking holes in the bottom and watering the seed which was placed about an inch into the soil. At the end, Gabriel was given Marilee’s hat off of her head at the end – Master Gardner. He is going to make sure that his Uncle Mauricio keeps the bags all watered so that in a couple of weeks, the seedlings will sprout through the soil. Around May, these can be planted to create a new Moringa arbor on his property. Photo Caption: (l-r) Matt Kennedy, Rachel Luscombe and young Gabriel plant the moringa seeds which should be ready to plant as seedlings in about two weeks.

This afternoon we capped four of the latrines for which pits had been dug by our resident crew. We will have a total of 37 completed by our arrival in late July or early August and a total of 155 completed within two years. This entire project is currently funded by a Matching Grant through Rotary International jointly sponsored by the Rotary Club of Managua, the Plattsburgh Noon Rotary Club and the Bergen-Highlands-Ramsey Club (NJ). It is the brainchild of Magaly who, when her uncle urged that we build bigger dwellings for people, voiced her opinion that we need to help the poorest of the poor and provide for them some of the “basics” such as an outhouse. Her vision has now become a reality and tomorrow morning our Leadership Team on the ground here will take her to a completed one and show her that her idea has become a reality. The latrine-building crew was comprised of Flo Reynaud, Ilona Flores, Jon Provost, Kevin Cosgro, Kristin Gagnier, Marty Mannix, Sarah LeFloch, Oscar Flores, Jr., Bill Calmbacher, Marisa Wolosz, Jenn Washburn, Ariel Benoit, Alyssa Malone, Christina Gehrig and Roger Patnode.

Our kitchen crew which kept us all quite content for our last day of many projects at a myriad of times was Gabriella Flores, Alison Gratto, Katrina Bouchard, Carol Dumont and Karen O’Brien.

Our last rice & beans delivery was headed up by Jesse Crosier who had a large team made up of April Yeaney, Laura MacMillan, Eliza Anderson, Alexa Cosgro, Marissa Dillenberger, Gen Hill, Cathy Hill and Kendra Smith.

At this evening’s meeting, we had our final sharing time and concluded with a closing service reflecting on our 6 days in our adopted country. Eric and Genny told us they were looking for a future mission in Nicaragua in which they could become involved when they planned their honeymoon…and now they think they may have found it. “Congratulations,” noted Eric, “It takes a lot of strength to do what you do.” Our final task for the evening was the assignment of suitcases, rockers and hammocks so that all returning could help each other.

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