Press-Republican

Amazing Neighbors

July 25, 2013

Nicaraguan effort marks 50-plus trips in 15 years

PLATTSBURGH — An apple goes for a buck in Nicaragua.

”A U.S. dollar is a lot of money there,” said Sister Debbie Blow, executive director of North Country Mission of Hope.

That Plattsburgh-based humanitarian-aid group has begun its annual summer mission in Nicaragua, with its small Prep Team on the ground there preparing for the main body of volunteers, which was set to head out early today.

They go fueled to make a difference, if not from past experience or the orientation sessions for newcomers, from a simple story Blow shared with the group in a recent email.

A little girl at San Fernando Orphanage wanted an apple as her one birthday present.

Sister Delia, who cares for the children there, emailed Blow recently to tell her that she didn’t feel she could buy such an amazing treat for just one of the 16 youngsters, so she got one for each of them.

The mission provides money for food there, Blow said, and “it was such a luxury that she wrote to apologize.”

The story, she said, “reminds us of why we do what we do, trying to bring hope to the poorest of the poor, particularly children.”

’HAVE TO ADAPT’

There was much preparation to be done before the arrival of the main group of volunteers, said Bill Murray, vice president of the Mission Leadership Team and Prep Team member.

Via cellphone on Tuesday evening, he said they began with opening up Ni-Casa, Mission of Hope’s compound in Chiquilistagua, cleaning the facility and getting it ready for the main body of volunteers. 

Then, they traveled to the sites where the mission intends to work to make sure that the arrangements were still in place — and to make any needed changes.

Murray said requirements at the sites often change between the time the project is first discussed and the time the advance team arrives. 

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