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Mission of Hope

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Monday, August 3, 2009

By Bonnie Black
The reality of a waning mission is upon us as this morning Bill Murray left at 5:15 a.m. to return home on his 8 a.m. flight. We are down to 40 now and we only have three full days left before almost everyone else is gone, so we are quite diligent about getting the necessary tasks completed - or as completed as we can with the weather and the supplies.

Sister Debbie mentioned that it seems that all this mission is doing is painting…and that's correct! This is the construction/paint mission with February's being the carton sorting and distribution mission. We send a container here in late fall that is being compiled right now by our fantastic volunteer MOHTown team who work every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. - and sometimes even later for pre-arranged deliveries.

Many times in August, we give the group a second experience in addition to the 'day off' such as the theatre, bullfights, baseball games or cultural events. IF we have any spare time tomorrow or Wednesday, our team might get a chance to head back to the Huembes market for 2 hours, take a ride to La Chureca (if they haven't yet) or, as opportunity allows, go on a mystery tour with Sister Debbie. She passed around signup sheets for all this morning. BUT, we will be extending our work day by a half hour and moving dinner to 5 p.m. in order to accommodate this.

She also thanked the A Team for continuing to do the 'extra tasks' as they arise and asked that everyone remembers these 5 people will be doing a lot for the next mission as they shut down Nicasa for us.

This morning's reflection time was guided by Hillary Miller who played John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." After the trip to La Chureca the other day and hearing about the government's decision to take away the hope of moving elsewhere for the people, she felt the lyrics were poignant:

"Now we see everything that's going wrong with the world and those who lead it. We just feel like we don't have the means to rise above and beat it…. It's not that we don't care, we just know that the fight ain't fair."

Sister closed the meeting noting that it is hard to be persistent when obstacles are continuously put in front of us, as human beings trying to serve others. So she urged us each to get out there today and be the change we want to see in the world.

Right after our morning meeting, Sister Debbie took the photos of the remaining students here at Nino who now have sponsors. There are a few real cuties!

Our BBB crew of Anthony Garami, Brad Willett, Peggy Giroux and Adrianne Longino whisked through some of the tasks this morning before leaving and will complete the rest as they return from their morning assignments - before getting into the day-long maintenance of that task to keep us all healthy.

Today's Home Crew went out to complete the last two homes and found one did not have the foundation completed, so a few of the locals did that while the rest tackled the next to last home being built for Margarita Molina Collada in Nejapa paid for by the Plattsburgh Sunrise Rotary. By the time they were finished with the first one, the second's foundation was ready and they completed it for Lidia Arguirre Potosul of Nejapa. Again, the donation for this shelter was provided by the Plattsburgh Sunrise Rotary Club. Kasey Garrand headed up the crew of Tom Grue, Phil Maynard and Chris Fisher.

The paint crew at Velez Paiz Children's Hospital did breezeway between the two ERs making some of the doctors very happy as they said it hadn't been painted in over 20 years. That crew was led by Emily Bean: Brad Willett, Joan Riani, Ashley Goyette, Kelly Hayle, Adrianne Longino and Tricia Giglio.

Rice & Beans for the day was coordinated by Sarah Scardillo who had, as a morning crew, Jackie Bedore, Heather Frenette, Stephen Witkiewicz and Rich DeGrijze. Their guide was Maritsa and they came back pretty quickly. So, Sarah, Heather and Stephen organized the supplies left for this afternoon and tomorrow so the teams heading out are prepared with the gifts we have left. We are now out of the Beanie Baby sized toys for infants, so we will need more to be shipped down on the container at the end of this month. If anyone knows people who have small stuffed toys that are safe for infants and toddlers that they don't need any more - and are in new or 'like new' condition, please think of dropping them off during the regular MOHTown hours.

As part of Odd Jobs after rice and beans, Jackie Bedore and Rich DeGrijze continued sorting the vitamins we brought down for our "Children Feeding Children" program from suitcases to cartons for storage by Magaly.

Completing the paint jobs of the four rooms we tackled at Our Lady of Guadelupe Clinic were Joe Lewis, Hillary Miller, Darcy Rabideau and Kara Hackett. A great feeling that we are done with one of the painting jobs!

Delivery the first 100 pounds of rice and beans this morning to Parajito Azul Center were Sister Stephanie, Brenda Flynn and Mary Fredette…and, of course, they spent most of the morning with the residents.

A large contingent went to the San Jose Hospital in Diriamba today for some hands-on medical experience with their Nicaraguan counterparts: Anthony Garami, Bill Calmbacher, Angele Neyer, Peggy Giroux, Meagan Pelkey, Liz Cofrancesco, Connie Tyska, Lou Ann Nielson and Ashley Thompson.

Our computer guru, Sonesh Balchandani, was between the table in the kitchen and the Oficina working on the various laptops which we brought down, installing the various programs still needed. The speed - or lack thereof - of the internet here takes more than a day for something that could be completed at home in just over an hour on networked computers.

This afternoon at 12:45pm, our student team of Stephen Witkiewicz, Tricio GIglio, Chris Fisher, Kayla Rabideau and Hillary Miller went over to the high school and began working on the portion of the mural they started on Saturday (we have the right colors now) only to find - after about an hour - that the students weren't able to join them. So, they finished their portion and will do the rest on Wednesday. Magaly said she will assure the students are here for Wednesday after school.

Magaly was our leader for this afternoon's Rice & Beans which was comprised of Sarah Scardillo, Kara Hackett, Joan Riani and Mary Fredette. They traveled by truck to get out and about.

Finishing the trim at Fernando Velez Paiz Children's Hospital this afternoon were Darcy Rabideau, Ashley Goyette, Heather Frenette, Jackie Bedore and Kelly Hayle. The rest of the non-Kitchen Crew were at NiCarlos working on various aspects of the tasks still left: Electric was Tom Grue and Adrianne Longino; building the ¾ wall were Joe Lewis, Rich DeGrijze and Phil Maynard; and painting the trim was Brad Willett, Brenda Flynn and Rinsha Ballani.

Kasey Garrand and Emily Bean took the 'mystery tour' ride with Sister Debbie to the meeting at CARITAS this afternoon as well as delivering donations to Casa de Vida - the women's safe house that we support, when we can.

There are always those Odd Jobs to do and this afternoon, for instance, when the team returned from Diriamba, it was discovered that the water barrels needed to be emptied (into the toilets and mop buckets) as disinfectant had been added instead of bleach this morning.

Sonesh also was working on the hemoglobinometer to get it working for us to assess the third graders here at Nino before we leave. Later tonight, after the meeting, Phil Maynard also tried, but to no avail.

We began our nightly meeting with clarification on sponsorships and gifts brought down on this trip.

Sister Debbie then announced that people here have given $359 toward food at Parajito Azul! On top of that, we received an email from the Fredette family who were very moved by the food situation. The 'grandmother' has written a check for $150 as have the family itself - it is Alex Fredette's parents and grandmother who will have their donations split evenly between Parajito Azul and Juan Pablo II.

We also learned that a person on mission has donated 1 bag of rice & 1 of beans to the Juan Pablo II baby orphanage- thanks for being so generous. Plus, during the day, we heard from a donor back home who is donating $500 to go toward milk for the Juan Pablo II baby orphanage which will be allocated at $100/month for the next 5 months - we are so blessed!

We have had different pastries as our 'treats' at our evening meeting which come from different sources around here…a 'sweet' way to assure we spread our money around in equitable fashion.

Brenda Flynn and Sister Stephanie were able to present the rice & beans today at Parajito Azul which absolutely filled them with joy as they knew they would be able to feed the children over the next day or two.

Sister Debbie informed us that Sister Karla and her fellow nuns may be visiting us from Mateguas tomorrow. So, Emily Bean said we need to work at 110% with 10% more for fun!

Sister then acknowledged that we are about the time in Mission that sadness rises up within us, with so much still to do in so very little time.

Tomorrow we will be meeting the Nino sponsored children in the afternoon, but it really all starts bright and early with the paint crew leaving here at 6:30 a.m. in order to be at Nejapa before 7am.

Sister Stephanie reminded us that beginning tomorrow, although we have enough to eat, it will be a little of this and a little of that in order to 'eat our way' down to nothing in the refrigerator when we leave.

Tricia learned something today - how to say Adrianne's name correctly!

Today, Sisters Stephanie and Debbie along with Oscar met with Sister Ligia at what is considered the best ICU in this area to meet with the dying sister from Diriamba. Patients were being brought out of surgery with people carrying IVs, a patient was on cardboard,

Not sure which

Sister danced with a fooled around with in February.

Through colonoscopy found a perforation in the intestine and she also developed pneumonia

8 ICU patients - no curtains, no division, few machines, and reuse the 'sterile' gowns time after time by people entering ICU - professional staff and visitors. Incredible lesson on what the healthcare system could be like if we didn't live in the US. People were being wheeled in with no limbs and bandages stuck on the end of the appendage. The floors weren't clean and neither were the walls. The next time we have to wait a little bit in the hospital or in the ER, we need to rethink.

It is a referral hospital - a public hospital - most complicated cases in Nicaragua.

Sr. Steph had to see patienets whelled without any privacy - men and women next tot each other. She observed a man so thin with whom a PT was working and she was afraid the bones were going to broken.

Came back and picked up Emily Bean and Kasey Garrand on a 'mystery ride.' Kasey told us that they ran into construction so they took an alternate route, around the lagoon, in order to get to CARITAS in time. It was a thin, dirt road that gave them a fantastic view of Managua - even though there was trash on the road.

They met with the new director of CARITAS who speaks English quite well. They also

Gave Johanna a few personal items for her new baby

Doctor removes tattoos as they 'brand' the men as members of gangs and it makes it hard to get a job. The doctor was performing surgery at the time they were there and she allowed them to watch the removal which is done by burning the tattoo off the skin and then removing the dead derma. People with tattoos need 1-3 sessions to remove the artwork. Some are having them removed for their own safety as they have left a gang and are at risk of being killed if they are 'found' by their identifying marks. The doctor is supported by MOH in coordination of a grant

Casa de Vida donations and quick tour - very small - and only safe house for raped and abuse women in the city. It houses only 12 women and their young children. Emily felt it was great to finally go there after having sorted donations for a number of missions now. There were 4 babies there today and one bed was cardboard - no mattress.

Then they did the grocery run and returned here in time for dinner.

Ashley Goyette shared what she experienced the second time she went to Fernando Velez Paiz Hospital they observed black bags being put over a drain and brought toward the incinerator. The contents were placentas being placed in and burned - while they were painting. Kelly Hayle told us the hospital told them they don't have enough sheets; Tricia Giglio was there in the morning when an older woman brought them into what is the kitchen/laundry room. It was dingy and moldy and she wanted them to paint it. They decided to brighten it, even for a day.

Joe Lewis stopped by to pick up the workers and was stopped by the Administrator who wanted to thank us for what we had done today and was so grateful. Of course, there is still so much to do. He noticed the conditions in this hospital, too, without any privacy for any patients. The second floor was damaged in the 1972 earthquake and has been unstable since that time. Kelly said that so many people walked by as they were painting and thanked them so much for what they were doing. It is the center for cleft palate surgeries and children's burns.

Lou Ann Nielson told of a different experience at San Jose Hospital in Diriamba. Clean, segregated patients, etc. They went into the ER and met the doctor and the nurse; after the doctor left, the nurse told them to please keep speaking English so she could practice it as she has to learn it in order to keep her job.

They ran into some Ontario students and then saw some beds with CVPH Medical Center sheets on them! Thanks to Tom Defayette of CVPH who has arranged for those donations that gave a feeling of 'home' to Lou Ann and Angie.

Kasey Garrand and his team at their home shelter this morning were approached by a man with a severe gash in his hand that was infected. He was drunk, spoke a bit of English, and Kasey called Nicasa to get instructions and was told he could come see Dr. Lopez tomorrow at 2pm. Tom Grue told us that they were told that because he was a drunk, he is treated like a dog by the family. They tried to tell him not to use the hand, and then observed him getting another cut as he grabbed some barbed wire there.

Sister told us that there is a great network among the nuns here, our clinic, Magaly and the First Responders that truly know people's ability to pay the nominal fee - if they can get here. Our medicines are given away for free, but our pharmacy here doesn't have all of the meds needed by all people at all times. If someone can't pay, the nuns assure that they are seen by the doctor.

Peggy Giroux noted that San Jose is extremely clean and very organized, but they had hardly any patients. The reason they don't have many patients any more is because the government is trying to take control of the Catholic hospitals by putting them out of business. The reason Sr. Ligia is still here is because her order knows if she

Paint

Generatos

Equipment

See effects of MOH work

Anthony Garami said the doctor told them there is pessimism in the community, but he saw improvements from what he saw last year

2 out of 3 of the children suffering from malnutrition

Systemic problems out there

A lot of political fear and unrest

We have much more to do here and urge you to become involved - not just one trip here and move on in your life. It is very important to continue

Represented our youth very well

Because the Catholic Church has spoken out against Ortega, Sister Ligia told Joe last night that they lost power for 5 months and then an additional 3 after she personally spoke out. Risking their lives for their efforts among the poor as has been the way in Central America for decades. Sister Ligia and the others live in fear, but also hope as witnessed by the joy we saw on them last night.

Encourage the young among us to learn the history of this country.

Hillary Miller noted the strength Kara Hackett is developing in her left arm painting the walls at the hospital today.

Adrianne Longino shared her experience in the courtyard which touched her tonight. She has been spending her time with her sponsored boy and his sister who tonight told her that they were her son and daughter. She has felt connected, but hadn't realized the impact of sponsoring a child; the family views the sponsor as a parent and believes in the strength of that connection.

Others shared quick insights into their day: Liz Cofrancesco lauded the medical team which she observed today in Diriamba - and inspiration to her; Sister Debbie found out from Magaly that the 3 children who live alone we interacted with a few days ago on rice & beans all go to school and sleep in the house alone, there are relatives nearby.

Sister Stephanie appealed to the group for a volunteer and accepted Lou Ann Nielson as a new member of the Wednesday Kitchen Crew; Darcy Rabideau reminded all that she will be compiling a CD of the songs we have shared this week during our meetings.

Ashley Thompson closed us with James Taylor's "Shed a Little Light." What stood out to me in the lyrics were: "There are ties between us, all men and women living on the earth, Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood, That we are bound together in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong."

Sister then mentioned that this month is Sister Stephanie's 50th Jubilee as a nun and all applauded. We closed wishing Mary Fredette a real Happy Birthday and Kayla Rabideau gave a shout out to Mary and Joan Riani who not only hung in but actually led the hiking from time to time today during Rice & Beans - you go, girls!

Sister reminded us that we are creating the bonds we will take home with us. And she said that Sonesh introduced her to new food: she loved the loli but not the koki.

And with that, we put our chairs away and moved toward calling it a night - only two more nights here in Nica and the majority of us will be back home.

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