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Mission of Hope

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

By Bonnie Black

Here’s a catch-up on what the rest of Wednesday was like. We have to remind ourselves that we are only as functioning as our “base” is….and today that meant that Marilyn Knutson and her team of Lauren MacMillan and Marisa Rose Wolosz duly earned their round of applause at the evening meeting for their efforts at keeping us fed. A smiling group of ladies were able to handle the first day’s meal needs with aplomb!

Dr. Clark Knutson (R) examines a child in the Los Guerreros clinic established as a joint venture between the Mission of Hope and Carritas of Nicaragua. The stories of Los Guerreros (what we thought was a town called El Trepiche) hit everyone’s heart as Sister Debbie, Ilona and Yami Flores, Clark Knutson and Nicky Lundy told of their day. Sister recalled that when they arrived at the clinic with Dr. Yamilette Zamora and Johanna from Carritas, a young child looked at her and exclaimed, “Gringa!” Within a few minutes another child checked out the rumor and then, their mother came around the corner and affirmed the tale her children had told was indeed correct. Johanna explained that this village has never seen a gringa or gringo…a new experience on their part, too! Dr. Zamora will return to the village twice a month as part of the joint project between our Mission and Carritas, all funded by George Moore’s generous donation. Carritas has also offered that anyone needing medical treatment or surgery will be transported by Carritas to San Jose Hospital in Diriamba. As one of the 52 clinics and hospitals run by the Diocese, San Jose will treat these patients at no charge. Caption for above photo: Dr. Clark Knutson (R) examines a child in the Los Guerreros clinic established as a joint venture between the Mission of Hope and Carritas of Nicaragua.

(L-R): Matt Kennedy, Alexa Cosgro, Amanda Russell and Christina Gehrig join the family who now has a new dwelling donated by George Moore of Keeseville.The evening meeting brought the realization to our home crews that we are working ourselves out of a job – which is the self-sufficiency we promote. The morning’s home was built through a donation by George Moore and his granddaughter, Amanda Rosselli, was on the team which included Matt Kennedy, Christina Gehrig, Alexa Cosgro with our veteran homebuilders, Oscar Flores, Jr and Marty Mannix. Amanda cherished meeting the young children and giving them the stuffed animals they brought along. One was an Ewok and the little girl who received it ran to place it on a bench and leaned into it and gave it a big kiss! This home was given in memory of all of Amanda’s aunts and uncles and when we heard the story of the young child jumping up and down with joy at receiving a toy, all of us knew why home crews are so important – even if each member can’t drive a nail. Caption for above photo: (L-R): Matt Kennedy, Alexa Cosgro, Amanda Russell and Christina Gehrig join the family who now has a new dwelling donated by George Moore of Keeseville.

The afternoon home crew, which was comprised of Rachel Luscombe, Karen O’Brien, Jon Provost and Marty Mannix, had a similar experience. Karen told us that she couldn’t drive a nail and Jon had to come along and give it a good whack. Jon noted that he found it meaningful to be there and until you are on-site and look at the dwelling and the number of people living in it, you can’t fathom these living conditions. “How can I complain?” was his rhetorical question for each of us to ponder. The afternoon’s home was built with a donation from Herb and Mary Carpenter who heard Marty’s story about this family when he returned in January after assessing the prospective new owners with Inocencio and Oscar Flores, Sr. Two young sisters had been living in a burned out cement structure with 7 other family members. They take care of the family members as the aunt and mother are no longer around. Herb and Mary were so touched by the details Marty gave, that they were moved to make this donation. As Marty asked us to contemplate, “Here is a 10 x 12 shelter which will be the new home for a family of 9. Now think of the size of your bedroom.”

Rice and beans were packed this morning by Katrina Bouchard, Jenn Washburn, Marilee Patnode and Michelle Armani. The afternoon crews which distributed it all was comprised of Carol Dumont, Oscar Flores, Jr., Gen Thompson, Eliza Anderson and Louis Racette. Carol told us it was an awesome experience and very eye-opening. A two or three-year-old boy was crying from a cut on his foot, so she used her antiseptic wipes and band-aids to help him. Gen was horrified to see how people live – that it is life for them and they don’t look at it the way we do. There were so many children that she was searching through her fanny pack to see what she could give them after the toys were distributed. “Why can’t I give them more?” was her question. “It made me look at thins from a different perspective.”

This afternoon a team of painters sojourned to the Managua Dump: Dorothee Racette, Flo Reynaud, Kevin Cosgro, Paul O’Connell, Kevin McGowan, Ariel Benoit, Andrew Garami and Matt Kennedy. Tonight Matt noted that the “homes” in the dump city are fabricated from cardboard, pieces of rusted tin and whatever they can find to create a dwelling. Cattle, dogs, people – all trying to find something to eat. He saw three children scouring the burning trash; they were partially clothed and, when they found a ball, they all smiled. Kids will find joy in a ball whenever and wherever they are. Flo said that although she had seen pictures of similar situations on television, experiencing this with her own eyes, through the clouds of garbage smoke was impressive. “In some ways, the cattle looked better than the people,” she said. She had a series of emotions from seeing a two-year-old squatting in the mud, picking out garbage. “It gets you as you are leaving – like leaving Hell.”

Our Disability Center team of Sister Stephanie, Diane Crosier, April Yeaney, Gabriella Flores and Liz Hill spent most of the day among the residents and with their therapists. Great photos were taken of the equipment now in use to work with many of the youth there all donated through the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation Grant.

Now, what did everyone else do? Well, the largest first (and second) day task is the sorting of the meds which we brought with us as well as that donated by CMMB and held in storage until our arrival. The school supplies were also sorted and prepared for the sponsored students here at Nino as well as those we will begin to sponsor at Nejapa this trip. Overall, a well spent day by all….with many again in bed by 9pm. The warmth is great, the sun is shining, we are all perspiring (and hydrating) and putting in a full day’s work. More to come tomorrow!

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