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Therapeutic, fulfilling and freeing

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Helping others: Meghan Parry with children in Nicaragua (Photograph supplied)

Mother Teresa once said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”.

This is a mantra that Meghan Parry and Angela Faries live by.

The two women have helped to make a small impact in developing country, Nicaragua, by volunteering with international non-profit organisation, Corner of Love.

A registered charity in Bermuda, Corner of Love (Bermuda) is a faith-based organisation, which typically sends up to 25 volunteers annually from the island to assist with a mobile medical clinic, as well as clothing, shoes and milk distribution in the Central American nation.

“I was introduced to Corner of Love through my aunt and uncle who were both involved with the organisation,” explained Ms Parry. “I decided to join in on one of the mission trips they were leading after watching a video my uncle had shared.

“It was extremely heart-wrenching and basically introduced the work that was going on there, as well as the story of the people of Nicaragua.

“I learnt that the children there couldn’t get an education without shoes on their feet, so just by distributing shoes you could help a child go to school, get an education and hopefully break out of the cycle of poverty.

“People there also lack access to basic healthcare, so we provide over-the-counter medicines, anti-parasite remedies and antibiotics, which is life changing for them.”

Ms Parry, the in-country director of Corner of Love (Bermuda), visited the impoverished region for the first time in 2009 and has gone back nearly every year since.

The same goes for Mrs Faries, who started volunteering with the charity in 2012 and now sits on the organisation’s board.

“The great thing about Corner of Love (Bermuda) is that we do good works in the name of the Lord and people who join us know that’s our mission,” Mrs Faries said. “However, not everyone who volunteers is necessarily of the same faith.

“It’s a weeklong mission trip and the beauty is, we can step out of our First World lives into a Third World setting and get up close and personal with how others live.

“Giving back doesn’t mean you have to sell everything, give up your home and move to another part of the world.

“You can devote a week of your time and it can still be very impactful,” Mrs Faries said. “These trips have allowed me to have a better perspective and made me realise how trivial many of our First World problems are in comparison.”

Mrs Faries, a mother of five, has taken her two daughters with her on past trips to Nicaragua.

One of her daughters, who has been volunteering for six years, was invited to attend a Corner of Love event in Seattle recently, where she won an award for the “Teen that Will Change The World”.

“My daughter has a heart for missions and is studying at university in Canada, undertaking a religious studies degree,” Mrs Faries explained. “These trips have had an obvious impact on her life, but to mine as well.

“For me, they are a great way to make a positive change in the world, even in this busy season of life.

“Since that first trip, I’ve become hooked on the idea that with a little more effort and time my tiny portion of what I can offer can make a difference and be of benefit to others.

“It’s rewarding and when doing this work it gives you a greater perspective. There is no time to think about e-mails or errands or appointments.

“You can separate yourself from it all and just be the hands and feet of the Lord as you serve others. It’s therapeutic, fulfilling and freeing.”

The two ladies have seen God move in big and little ways while serving with Corner of Love (Bermuda).

“They remember on one occasion while trying to deliver supplies to people in a remote part of Nicaragua when their bus got stuck in a ravine, where a portion of the dirt road had eroded away.

“The driver asked everyone to get off the bus and we did,” Mrs Faries said. “In our minds, we thought the best solution would be to fill in the ravine with rocks in order to get the bus unstuck.

“We started looking for all the rocks we could gather, but then out of nowhere God sent a bulldozer.

“It was something we never would have expected — that in this remote area a bulldozer would drive right through at the exact time we needed it, but to me that was God showing us that His plans are much greater and much higher than our own. We just stood there in awe of what the Lord had done.

“It’s just incredible that when you take the time to see what God is doing, He always shows up.

“In our everyday lives and with our busy routines, we tend to get a little jaded, but when you step into a Third World setting and see the poverty and pain that people are burdened with, it makes it all the more real.

“You start to see God in the smaller things.”

As of last April, Corner of Love has had to change its focus, as Nicaragua is dealing with one of its worst crises in its history.

Ms Parry explained there is currently no mission work happening in Nicaragua, as the Government has made it illegal to do humanitarian work there.

“In the past, Corner of Love has hosted upwards of 30 mission trips into the country annually, however, all of this has had to stop because of the political unrest happening there,” Ms Parry said. “We have now turned our efforts to the Nicaraguan refugees fleeing for their lives and going into Costa Rica.

“The need is so great, we have had to set up a relief centre providing basic necessities like food, clothes and medicines to people there.”

Due to Government censorship of the media and journalists, few people know what’s happening in Nicaragua, Mrs Faries said.

The women encourage people to do as much research as they can into the issue, by Googling “Nicaragua news”, to find out how much people are suffering.

“People are so desperate to tell their stories, but mobile phones and computers are being confiscated and media organisations are being burnt to the ground,” Mrs Faries said. “So when we try to tell people, they just look at us with a blank stare.

“It’s been a challenge getting people to understand and making them aware of what groups like Corner of Love are doing to help and make a difference, but we start by telling one person at a time.

“I have made three trips to Costa Rica since this past August and have been involved in setting up a relief centre.

“I have been personally asking for donations of clothing, toiletries and blankets from family and friends and we have also been appealing for monetary donations as well.

“While we can only carry so much in our suitcases, we can buy supplies relatively cheaply overseas.

“One blanket at Walmart costs $10 and that is one item the refugees we work with have been requesting.

“While Costa Rica is considered a warm country, people have been forced to sleep outside or in parks and this helps them to do so more comfortably.”

Corner of Love (Bermuda) will be taking people on a mission’s trip to Costa Rica in 2019, with the goal of distributing medical items and other crucial supplies. For more information or to learn how to donate, visit www.corneroflove.org or contact colbermuda@corneroflove.org

A smile and a helping hand: Angela Faries, left, on a recent mission trip to Costa Rica (Photograph supplied)
Have faith: the Corner of Love’s bus is shown stuck in mud (Photograph supplied)