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February 25, 2013

Mission of Hope both painful and rewarding

PLATTSBURGH — The North Country Mission of Hope dichotomy is one of both pain and joy.

“It’s wonderful, and at the same time it’s awful,” Sally Kokes said by phone from Nicaragua.

The poverty is astonishing to those who haven’t experienced it before.

“There are moments that it is incredibly painful to see the poverty that the people live with,” said Kelly Donnelly of Plattsburgh, who teaches at Seton Catholic Central School in Plattsburgh.

Friday, she worked with a mission crew, helping a Nicaraguan family build one of the 12 home shelters planned for this trip, and a small group of local children played nearby.

Donnelly, of Peru, spotted a shard of a glass soda bottle in the dirt where the children were playing.

She moved to pick up the glass, thinking it might be a danger to the children, she said.

But a little boy picked it up.

“It was obviously one of his toys,” Donnelly said. 

The boy put his plastic dinosaur in the glass and began playing with it.

“It was just a moment where I was really blown away and kind of humbled by just how basic everything in their lives is.”

HEALING WORK

Saturday afternoon, Mission of Hope held a health fair.

Several hundred local Nicaraguans were expected to attend, Kokes said earlier in the day.

Locals would undergo blood pressure and blood glucose checks, and Dr. George Mitsoglou, a Plattsburgh optometrist, was distributing reading glasses to health-fair attendees.

The missioners would also hand out information on breast exams, and emergency medical technicians Brodi Hooper  and Bill Calmbacher and nurses Kathy Fuller, Hannah Farrow and Connie Tyska would provide simple dental care, nutrition and other basic health measures. 

Also on the trip is Nicole Groleau, a respiratory therapist from near Albany. And Plattsburgh physician Dr. Roger Patnode has been in Nicaragua since January for an extended experience.

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