Valley donations to furnish Afghan school and clinic
Mission of Love is providing all the supplies for the four-classroom school.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Children in Afghanistan will soon be using school desks that once served students at St. Nicholas School in Struthers.
Along with the desks are school and medical supplies donated by local residents.
The desks and supplies are included in the 14,000 pounds of medical and educational aid collected by the Mission of Love Foundation in Austintown for a new school and medical clinic in Herat, Afghanistan. Herat is located in the northwest near the Iranian border.
On Monday, the aid will be delivered to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna for eventual transport to Herat by the U.S. Department of Defense.
"We have children in need of basic needs and basic education," said Kathleen Price, founder and director of Mission of Love. Price runs Mission of Love out of her Hemlock Court home. "We have to go in and help the area."
The Mission of Love Foundation is designed to help indigenous people around the world. In the 15 years since it was founded, Mission of Love has coordinated the transportation of 8 million pounds in aid to countries like Peru and Ethiopia, Price said.
Mission of Love volunteers also have constructed homes, a hospice and an orphanage on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota.
About the effort
The foundation began collecting donations for the school and medical clinic in Herat about two years ago, after Price received an e-mail from Carol Mark, co-founding director of the Catherine Collective of Toronto, Ontario.
The Catherine Collective's Internet page states that the organization is committed to "help create a kinder, gentler, and more generous world for our future and the children who will inherit it."
Mark said the collective was helping a man from Herat raise money to build a medical facility and school in his home city, and that she learned about Price through a mutual friend. The Herat man's father and sister had been killed by the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Mark said.
Over the next two years, Price collected pencils, notebooks, shoes, winter coats and other items for the school and clinic. St. Nicholas Principal Paulette Petrosky said her school decided to donate the old desks because it believes it has a responsibility to help children in need.
"We want them to have a good education, we want to enrich their lives," Petrosky said.
Mark said that the effort to build and open the school and medical clinic was "very grass roots, but it got the work done.
"It's about people making a difference because they can," she said.
Answer to criticism
Price noted that she has been criticized by some for helping needy people overseas while there are needy people in the Mahoning Valley. She responds that conditions are much worse for people in places like Afghanistan and the Pine Ridge Reservation than they are in Youngstown, and that she hopes to serve as a voice for the needy in those areas.
"They don't have anybody else other than Mission of Love to speak for them," Price said.
When it opens, the four-classroom school in Herat is expected to serve about 700 pupils, Price said. Mission of Love will be providing all the supplies for the school.
Price said Mission of Love's next project will be to build more homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation in October, and that in November, the foundation will be sending a medical team to help people in Honduras. She said local residents interested in helping the foundation should contact her at (330) 793-2388.