This week, 20 volunteers from Mission of Love boarded a plane at the Cleveland Airport and headed to the Mayan community of Tecpan, Guatemala, in South America. Their mission was to continue construction of a children's hospice in the high mountains of Guatemala.
Mission of Love founder/director Kathy Price of Austintown, said the whole project came about after a medical mission trip last year to perform cleft palate operations on very young children. The doctors on the trip saw the need for a hospice after seeing the number of children dying from terminal illnesses. That caring thought became a reality in January of this year when the first mission trip headed to Tecpan to begin work on a hospice.
The January trip saw the pouring of a foundation for the House of Dreams children's hospice center. It was built on a mountain top 7,200 feet above sea level, next to a Mayan pyramid. The area was hard to access by construction vehicles and the volunteers had to mix and pour the cement by hand.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Sieglinde Warren, Kathy Price and Brianna Komara-Pridon hold a check from Canfield Rotary that will go towards purchasing building materials to complete a children’s hospice center in Guatemala, this week. The three women will be among the 20 volunteers that are leaving for Tecpan, Guatemala, this week for a weeklong building mission on the project.
In March, another group of volunteers showed up and placed the poles and beams that would frame for the structure. This week, a group of 20 local volunteers headed back to put up the walls and roof on the structure. One more trip is planned in October to finish the building and set up the hospice with beds and furniture.
"Our goal is to have it done and ready to serve the children this coming January," Price said.
The trip almost didn't happen this week. Price had plans for an airlift through the Denton program. That program allows the Air Force to transport humanitarian aid around the globe on cargo planes. It brings the aid while serving as a live operation for Air Force crews.
When the funding wasn't there, the airlift was cancelled and the trip was in jeopardy. Thanks to several local businesses and organizations, the trip was back on. One of the larger donations came from Canfield Rotary. The Rotarians held a golf outing earlier this year and agreed to donate $2,000 towards the mission.
"We had supplies planned for an airlift, but due to funding it was going to be cancelled," Price said. "Canfield Rotary and a few other donations enabled the materials we needed to be purchased in Guatemala so we can finish the construction in one week."
Among the group of volunteers who left this week was Brianna Komara-Pridon of Canfield. Pridon is a Canfield Rotarian who learned about the trip at a Rotary meeting during the summer months. She is not new to the poor and suffering peoples of the world, having taken part in the Semester at Sea program when she was in college.
"I got in the program Semester at Sea through the University of Pittsburgh when I was in college," she said. "We traveled to 12 different countries while living on a cruise ship. We got to visit the poorer areas of the world and it made me aware of the poorer, unhealthy people."
When she heard of this week's mission trip she was quick to sign up. She will be traveling with her husband Jason Pridon, whom she married back in May. The couple's reason for going is primarily to help the children.
"I am very excited to be able to make their lives a little easier," she said.
Price said the volunteer list will include two doctors who will be handling hearing aides for deaf children while in Guatemala.
She said another trip in planned for October with the intention of outfitting the hospice with beds and furniture. The goal is to open the hospice in January.