In 1989, a Mission of Love began with a simple request for help to start a bilingual preschool for the Mayan children on the Island of Women, Mexico. That one moment in time kicked off a plethora of humanitarian aid around the world and next year it will celebrate its 25th anniversary.
"As I look back over the years, one wonders just where I would be if I did not respond to the call of compassion by Judith Fernandez of Isla Mujerus, Mexico, while in Cancun for our 25th wedding anniversary in 1989," said Mission of Love founder-director Kathy Price. "Everyone I meet always questions, just how did the Mission of Love begin?"
It started as Kathy and her husband, Bob Price, were on a flight to Cancun. Price read an article regarding the La Loma craft shop in a bridal magazine. The article fascinated her and she knew after reading the story that she and Bob should make a visit to this store on "The Island of Women" known as Isla Mujerus.
After arriving into Cancun, Bob and Kathy decided to take a day trip to the Island of Women. The travel from Cancun to Isla Mujerus was much different than it is today. At that time, the main form of transportation was a very small ferry boat loaded with locals, animals and everything imaginable, even some musicians playing Spanish songs.
Kathy said she began to question what she was about to get herself into, as the boat rocked back and forth. She arrived on the five-mile-long island and did lots of sightseeing, she said.
"We found La Loma, the store that I read about on the plane and immediately met La Loma's proprietor, Judith Fernandez," Kathy said. "Little did I know that my life and the countless unfortunate indigenous of our world was about to change forever for the better, because of that meeting of two women on the Island of Women at La Loma."
Judith and Kathy connected immediately on a what she said was a spiritual level. Judith shared her dream with Kathy, which was her vision of helping the Mayan children on the island get an education.
"At first I was reluctant to even listen to her plea, after all, I was very sick, a stranger, I couldn't speak Spanish and we are thousands of miles apart," Kathy said. "Our conversation went from minutes to hours and something was about to take place that would be known as a Mission of Love."
Judith told Kathy that she and some women of the community wanted to start a bilingual preschool and were in need of educational supplies and lots of hope that the little children could be serviced by a simple school. Judith introduced Kathy to the doctor at the Red Cross clinic and she and Bob saw first hand that they had more in their medicine chest at home for a family of six than the doctor had to service 12,000 Mayan Indians on Isla Mujerus.
"I will never forget seeing the students writing in the dirt with their finger, while having no paper or pencils," Kathy said. "I witnessed a baby dying in her mother's arms because of a lack of simple antibiotics. What I saw, and what I heard, I could not believe. I questioned just how could this be and why does this exist in our world. Is it because these people are south of the border of America? Strangely enough, for some unknown reason, I thought that everyone in our world lived like us in the United States of America."
The trip to the Island of Women touched Kathy and Bob, she said. Before they arrived back home, Kathy said she had decided to dedicate the rest of her life to making a difference for the children's sake. She formed Mission of Love and over the past 24 years, the children of that tiny island, and thousands of others, have been touched. The Mission of Love has built schools, orphanages, hospices, homes, greenhouses and Chamber of Commerce buildings, while distributing more than 10,000 handmade comfort quilts. It has sent ambulances, fire trucks, and school buses and has touched and healed thousands of people in need, all without attachments or expectations, Kathy said.
"We have fulfilled thousands of promises, filled thousands of planes, trucks and boats with millions of pounds of building materials, educational supplies, medical supplies, food and aid to five continents," Kathy said. "Our Mission of Love has taken thousands of like-minded volunteers to be of service via building, giving medical service and surgeries, hearing aids, comfort quilts and just plain hope and love to those less fortunate in our world. I have facilitated to those who were looking for a way to give back to our world by volunteering via our Mission of Lpve, unconditionally. The fact is that everyone has it in their heart to share their love and experiences with those less fortunate."
She said the Mission of Love was destined to be and that her life's purpose was found on a small island off of the Caribbean, five miles from Cancun, Mexico.
"It is not just my Mission of Love but everyone's mission in life to be of service," she said. "Our destined work of love continues because so many have taken our hand because of that simple spiritual encounter between two women on the Island of Women in 1989."
Kathy is not ready to slow things down either. Within the next few months, she already has several trips planned. From Oct. 12 to 19, she will be heading to Way-bi, Tecpan, Guatemala, to continue working on a children's hospice center. On Nov. 2, a weeklong trip is planned to Pine Ridge Native American Indian Reservation to continue building homes for the poorest Americans.
As the 25th anniversary approaches, the Mission of Love will head to Guatemala again on Jan. 26, 2014 where volunteer surgeons will preform cleft lip-palate surgeries on children. Kathy said anyone who wants to help with any of the missions can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are appreciated as well as lending a physical hand in making the world a better place, and as Kathy says, "We can't save the world, but we can help those within our reach."