Sister Debbie Blow sits with a local child during one of her many visits to Nicaragua.
Photo by Katherine Clark.
continued “They arrived here in Plattsburgh because during the 80’s, this location was a receiving area/stop off point for refugees from around the world,” said Blow. “They sought refuge here, someone locally told them to approach me to see if I could help their children and when they did, I said yes of course.
“What I told the mother was ‘We have no money either, but let us help you now and later, you can give back and help others.’”
Blow helped provide the family with a small apartment that was donated by a local landlord, all furniture and beds, food for several weeks, clothing for the entire family, contacts for employment, and education for their two children.
Blow and the Flores family were drawn back to Nicaragua when Hurricane Mitch devastated the country.
“It was now a joint effort of Yamilette Flores, Eve McGill and me to ‘give back’ and help others in need, especially in the wake of the single longest sustained category 5 hurricane on record as of 1998,” said Blow.
That year, 52 volunteers including healthcare, construction workers, educators, other professionals, and youths traveled to Nicaragua. When they got there, Blow said the devastation was unimaginable.
“Three months after the hurricane there were orphanages and homes still under water, and thousands of people living under trees — thousands,” said Blow.
The Mission of Hope will be going on its 50th mission, Blow said she has gone on all of them with the exception of one or two trips.
“Some people ask if it would not just be better to send the money and not the people. To that I want to say first of all our volunteers pay their own way, all of the money donated to us goes right to the efforts, and secondly if you keep sending money nothing would happen at home, we needed to change the attitudes of people here and help them see they can make a difference,” said Blow.