“We’ve been working them all real hard,” Kokes said.
Mission volunteers also planned to hand out hygiene kits with items like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hairbrushes and lotion.
“Things that we take for granted, but for them it’s really a big thing because they can’t really afford much,” Kokes said.
The ailments she has seen the most are malnutrition, parasite infections, diabetes and eye problems like conjunctivitis, she said.
The 53-person mission group has been working on a variety of projects this week, including door-to-door distribution of rice and beans, planting a vegetable garden with high-school students and distributing school supplies, all in the sweltering 90-degree heat.
But the experience is also a time for play, despite desperate circumstances.
Kathy Fuller’s husband, Dave, visited a facility where HIV-positive children are often brought after they are rescued from the city dump where their parents abandon them.
“On the surface, they’re just another child. They’re happy,” said Mr. Fuller, who summers in Schroon Lake and otherwise lives in Florida.
The children’s eyes lit up when mission workers gave them pizza, and they had fun playing with a pinata, Fuller said.
Before the children took a strike at the pinata, they would do a little dance, he said.
One little girl seemed more interested in dancing than the pinata, Fuller said.
”It was so beautiful. It was awesome to see them.”
Mrs. Fuller cried as she spoke about her first experience with the Mission of Hope.
“It’s kind of overwhelming,” she said. “We have so much in our world, and it’s just very humbling to see the other side of the world where people really do struggle.”
The week-long mission is both physically and mentally exhausting, but the rewards volunteers get in return are immeasurable, Kathy said.