The Press Republican

Mission of Hope

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

By Bonnie Black
Our last full day of work (as tomorrow is our "day off") had much activity. Of course, we had a great kitchen crew: Connie Miller, Ashley Lamberton, Jena Finnegan, Amanda Knauf. And our BBB needs were taken care of by Rachel Daly, Gabby Flores, Bill Murray and Phil Lamour.

The Health Fair at Nejapa was at 9am to 11am and had many of us participating: Jeremy Dumont, Bill Calmbacher, Kristin Gagnier, Roger Patnode, Kate Patnode, Bev Gogola, Joy Cayea, Bill Murray, Mary Gleason, Kathy Eppler, Sarah Clancy, Sr. Cathy, Demi Pellerin, Phil Lamour, Siobhan Norton, Carole Becker, Samantha Mulcahy, Betsy Sullivan, Mary Garcia, Rachel Daly, Sarah Scardillo, Adam Peryer, Gabby Flores, Alex Munn, Catherine Hill, Sarah Deeb, Matt Kennedy, Pat Daly, Alice Robinson and Meg Ryan. They staffed several information stations: blood pressure, diabetes, alcohol, parasites, oral hygiene, and ECO- our Moringa project. There were also coloring and exercise stations for the children and some dancing with the kids! After a slow start, we ended up with several hundred Nicaraguans in attendance. In addition to information and education, they all also received the hundreds of health kits we had been preparing in the yard all week long. Each kit was identified bilingually with its contents: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, wash cloth, conditioner and body lotion.

Holding another Women’s Health Clinic were Tracy Orkin, Cathy Hill, Diane Rolfs and Nicky Lundy – but they weren’t too busy this time!

We also had a work crew at Nejapa finishing up the projects we had started earlier in the week: Sr. Steph, Jimmy Dumonth, James Carlin, Allen Pellerin, Brian Mulcahy, Marty Mannix and Matt Daly.

There was a trip to La Chureca, one of the cities in the Managuan dump. Yes, it is an actual city and you would think, as you look at the homes, that it is a very poor section of Nicaragua. There are schools, churches, a clinic and community meeting areas where the Manna Project, among others, provide a noontime meal each weekday. But to get there, you drive through what is easily recognizable as a landfill. Garbage trucks are entering and leaving, people are milling around near the trucks, animals from cats and dogs to large bovines are roaming throughout. And traveling to what we have called the ‘rim,’ our group got to see the ‘hole’ where it fills with rainwater during the rainy season and people bathe, drink and use this water which includes runoff from the rest of the dump. Because this water catchment area is near the sector of the dump where the paint and batteries are discarded, we have found higher lead levels in the children who live in this section. There was a boat on the polluted lake in the dump – Sr. Debbie said that it was the first time she has ever seen a boat on the lake that is within the dump. A few people who went on the trip gave the impression that it seemed to be “as bad as life can get.”

Large groups went to both the El Crucero orphanage and Juan Pablo orphanage this afternoon. Two truckloads of supplies were brought to the orphanage for those ages 5 and older, which included toys, sports equipment, mattresses, and bedding by Adam Peryer, Phil Lamour, Siobhan Norton, Carole Becker, Kathy Eppler, Cathy Hill, Mary Garcia, Nicky Lundy, Jena Finnegan, Meghan Ryan, Brian Mulcahy, Catherine Hill, and Rachel Daly. The children who live there were particularly thrilled with the sports equipment! Missioners played with the orphans using their new balls, hockey sticks, roller blades, etc, and everyone had a great time.

Those who went to the Juan Pable baby orphanage (birth to age 5) were: Pat Daly, Joy Cayea, Sam Mulcahy, Connie Miller, Matt Kennedy, Ashley Lamberton, Amanda Knauf, Sarah Scardillo, Roger Patnode, Sarah Deeb, Demi Pellerin, Kate Patnode, Diane Rolfs and Sarah Clancy.

Matt Kennedy and Pat Daly said they were given a small tour of the facility by the nuns, and then they played with the orphans. They held the younger children, and gave the older children piggyback rides and colored with them. Matt Kennedy met a child that wouldn’t talk, and he is fairly sure that he didn’t know how to talk at all. However, Matt was able to bond with him by holding him and giving him piggyback rides. Eventually, the child was following Matt around, and at the end he gave him a kiss goodbye.

After the return from the orphanages, most attended Mass. This mass included the celebration of a Quinceanera. The mass was all in Spanish, but everyone was able to understand the message of community, cooperation, and that we are all one in the eyes of God.

Electric work continued at Carlos’ house today: James Carlin, Jimmy Dumont, Allen Pellerin, Jeremy Dumont, Bill Murray and Matt Daly. Finishing the painting were Mary Gleason, Alice Robinson, Tracy Orkin and Betsy Sullivan.

And a few helped with the preparation to close Nicasa as Mission 31 comes to an end: Alex Munn, Bill Calmbacher, Bev Gogola and Sr. Cathy.

In the Kitchen this evening were Kristin Gagnier, Sr. Steph, Sarah Scradillo, Gabby Flores, and Pat Daly. After Mass was our perennial pizza party courtesy of Whirly Industries and Shawn Watson’s family. Shawn is Sr. Stephanie’s nephew who has been on mission but died unexpectedly a year or so ago. His father and employer (Whirly) are staying committed to the Mission and provide this night of ‘a taste of home’ just before we leave each mission. Whirley Industries also continues to supply the plastic containers in which we put all of the health fair supplies. These kits become usable to the families long after the supplies are expended, so it is an on-going ‘gift’ to the people served by the Mission.
Guests at tonight’s Pizza Party included: Magaly and her husband, Inocencio, Nora and her family, and Sister Rosa. Also attending were Father Jalder, and the director of Caritas, Johanna. Johanna is expecting her third child in May. Our other guests of honor were four nuns from Diriamba, including Ingrid, who is sick and needs to be brought to the United States.

The nuns brought their guitar and sang songs for us, then we sang songs for them! Siobhan Norton and Betsy Sullivan also showcased their Irish dancing talent!! This was a great sharing experience for all.

When reflecting on all that has occurred over the week, to judge its success we need to look at the newly revised Mission Statement of the Mission of Hope:

As a spiritually-based humanitarian organization, the North Country Mission of Hope is committed to fostering hope and empowering relationships with the people of Nicaragua through sustainable programs in education, healthcare, community and ecological development.

Have we done it? Ask anyone on Mission 31 and I think you will find the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

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