Area group planning summer mission to help Mexico kids

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
While parents in Kansas are taking their kids to visit the doctor and buy school supplies this August, a group of adults from Hillsboro, Marion and Garden City will travel just south of the border to help parents in Reynosa, Mexico, do the same for their kids.

The group, led by Ernie and Donna Luna of Hillsboro and Rose Buschman of Garden City, is an offshoot of the Christmas Rebuilders group that traveled in December to the Reynosa colony of Primero De Mayo to bring supplies and to build a house.

“This is an extension of what we’ve done before with several mission trips,” Buschman said. “It’s the same place the Christmas Rebuilders went last year, and it’s the same group of people.

“Now we’re focusing on getting the kids ready for school.”

This group’s trip, planned for July 30 to Aug. 14, will include two week-long “academic enrichment” day camps and a three-day medical mission intended to prepare the colony’s children both medically and educationally for the school year ahead, Buschman said.

“We’re concerned about the children in the colonia,” she said. “We’re going to…do kind of like a children’s clinic where we screen for possible problems that the kids have and then get help for them.”

Buschman said the group has connections with a doctor in the Reynosa area who will provide follow-up to the medical clinic.

“The kids that we identify as having needs-whether they’re dental or vision or other medical needs-we have a local contact down there that we can send the kids down to,” she said. “I want to work with her in any way we can to keep this thing going.”

The clinic will also include treatment of minor injuries, infant care and distribution of first-aid kits with a workshop on care of cuts and minor injuries.

The medical personnel, who will travel down separately just to perform the medical clinic, are nurse practitioner Ruth Reed and registered nurse Laurie Braden, both of Marion Family Physicians.

Rounding out the Hillsboro group are Jan Walter and Jessica Luna, Ernie and Donna’s daughter.

Buschman said she expects a rather large turnout from the colony’s population of about 2,000.

“I think that the medical mission could easily see 200 or more,” Buschman said. “At Christmas time we serviced about 200 families. So there is the potential for that very easily.”

But they expect only about 50 to 60 kids at the day camps, she said.

“We’re just aiming that particular part to the school-age children,” she said.

Buschman explained the camps’ process, intended to furnish the children in both the colonia and at an orphanage near Reynosa with the skills and supplies they need to function at a higher level in school.

“The kids will be allowed to work through a number of activities that we have that are designed to get them ready (for school),” she said. “Then they will earn punches for the activities they complete.

“Then the last day we’re going to have a school-supplies tienda (store), where they can come and use their punches to shop for backpacks and school supplies…and all kinds of things like that,” she said.

To help with the costs of the medical clinic, the group is asking for both monetary gifts ($10 will pay for a first-aid kit for a family in the colonia) and donations of cloth diapers, plastic diaper pants, diaper pins and diaper-rash ointment for the infant-care clinic.

The group is also looking for sponsors to help families who cannot afford to send their children to school on a salary often amounting to little more than $200 per month.

“It costs about $125 to get a child into school,” Buschman said. “It’s very difficult for a lot of parents to provide for their kids at that level.”

The group will host several events in the Hillsboro and Garden City areas in the next several weeks to raise funds for the trip.

The group is not affiliated with any organization or denomination, Buschman said, and does not even have a name.

“We’ve just called it ‘Mission to Mexico,” she said.

“It’s just a mission of goodwill in the interest of children,” Donna Luna added.

The group will work in conjunction with the Shiloh Church of the colonia, connected with a church in Dallas, Texas, of the same name.

“The missionaries down there are working under them,” Buschman said. “That church has become the focal point of the entire community.”

Buschman said the group hopes to keep partnering with Christmas Rebuilders to establish a year-round ministry in the colonia.

“If you keep going back to the same place, people get to know you, and they start trusting you,” she said. “Hopefully we can keep this program going and give kids the opportunity to get out of poverty.”

Families in the colonia are already looking forward to what the group will provide with its upcoming visit, Buschman said.

“The parents are really excited that their kids are going to school,” she said. “Parents everywhere want what’s best for their kids.”

For more information or to make a donation, call Ernie or Donna Luna at 947-3650 or Buschman at 620-276-9324.

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