PLATTSBURGH — North Country Mission of Hope is educating children in Nicaragua about parasites this week, but the volunteers are finding the experience enlightening for themselves as well.
Connie Tyska, 63, a recently retired nurse from Schroon Lake and a part-time Florida resident, is on her seventh trip to Nicaragua with the Plattsburgh-based humanitarian-aid group.
“I’ve met so many people on the different clinics that we’ve done, and I have friends here now,” she said by phone from Nicaragua on Friday. “They’ve become my extended family.”
During this trip, Tyska had the opportunity to work with Nicaraguan medical students. Together, they taught preschool and elementary-school children about parasites, explaining what they are and how the nasty organisms are contracted. Hand-washing lessons were included in the curriculum.
Tyska found working with the medical students very rewarding.
“It was good to sit and talk about the different medical issues that they see here. It was an education for both of us,” she said.
Tiska is among 53 missioners who arrived in Nicaragua between Sunday and Monday this week for the largest effort of the year. They return home Tuesday.
“Each time I come and each day that I enjoy here with the local people, I just say, ‘Wow,’ they’re so grateful for every little thing that we do,” Tyska said.
“It just makes me sit back and say, ‘Thank you, God, for what I have.’”
That epiphany of thankfulness is referred to as a “mission moment” by those who belong to Mission of Hope.
Sam Politi, 17, a senior at Willsboro Central School, has been amazed by the resiliency of the Nicaraguan people.
“They’re the happiest people I’ve ever met,” he said via phone from Mission of Hope’s compound, Ni-Casa, in the community of Chiquilistagua.