Papa Joe Covolo brings a little joy to Honduran childrenPosted May 11, 2012 at 3:54 PM, Filed Under: Community News, Front Page, Village Mill
By Lynda Raines
“Papa Joe” Covolo is back at his Five Springs home after a trip to Honduras in March as part of a 15-member Friends of Barnabas (FOB) medical mission team. Mission teams first traveled to Honduras in 1997, and Covolo has been onboard for 28 of the visits to the poverty-riddled Central American mountain region, where many children have never been treated by a doctor or a dentist.
In five days, the FOB team conducted medical clinics in San Pedor Suta, La Masica, Buena Vista, and Santa Fe Abajo. This time, in addition to the vitamins and medicine that are routinely dispensed, the team brought along fluoride treatment. In the past, toothbrushes and toothpaste were an important part of the supplies taken to Honduras, and the fluoride is another positive step in improving dental hygiene, especially in children ages 5 through 12.
According to Covolo, some of the Honduran people walk for over an hour to reach the clinic where they wait to be treated by a doctor. “It is also a festive day in that there’s much socializing with friends and family members who seldom see each other,” Covolo says. “I think this could fall under the category of mental health.”
By the end of the mission trip last month, the doctors, dentists and nurses had treated a total of 998 children and adults. And Papa Joe contributed his layman’s specialty—soothing the little ones who were shy or frightened. Lately he has added a new skill to his repertoire: fingernail painting. “Using my vast experience with my granddaughter Maddie,” Covolo says, “I really mastered the art and had many a satisfied customer.”
Covolo always returns from an FOB medical mission with images of the Honduran children in his memory. “We left smiles on little faces, and hope in their parents’ eyes,” Covolo says. “Most of all, each of us left a bit of our heart in the little communities in the mountains. We gave a lot of ourselves, but we bring back so much more, and we are richer for the experience.”