WILLSBORO - Tara Robare will soon take a week-long excursion away from the Adirondack winter to a place with a tropical climate. However, this trip will be about much more than soaking up the sun.
A senior at Willsboro Central School, Robare will join the 35th embarkment of the North Country Mission of Hope, an ongoing mission to aid cities in Nicaragua.
North Country Mission of Hope was founded locally in 1998 in response to severe conditions in Nicaragua resulting from a Category 5 hurricane. Through a wide range of development projects, the organization has been working to improve living conditions in one of the poorest nations in the world.
But to get there, Robare has to do her own fundraising for the trip. Roughly $1,200 is needed to pay for her transportation and food.
To raise the funds, Robare has made presentations to community groups in and around Willsboro, the latest of which was a Jan. 5 meeting with the United Methodist Women of Willsboro. There, she expressed her enthusiasm for what she can help North Country Mission of Hope accomplish.
Robare said she was inspired to volunteer overseas after Sister Deborah Blow, Executive Director for North Country Mission of Hope, visited her Spanish class with a presentation about the organization. Through images and accounts of Nicaraguan living conditions, Robare recognized a need to serve.
"I knew things like that happened," she said, "but I didn't know the extent of it."
Also, the trip appealed to her strong desire to travel overseas, something she hopes to continue doing in college.
"I chose to go because I want to see the world that I'm living in; the good, the bad, and the ugly," said Robare.
About half the funds needed for her trip have been pledged thus far, said Robare.
If successful, she will join the ranks of more than 450 individuals, students and adults from the North Country and beyond, who have traveled to Nicaragua at least once with Mission of Hope. While many have originated in Essex County, Robare will be the first high school student from Willsboro.
The plan, she said, is to leave Feb. 11 as one of about a dozen volunteers that include fellow high school students, college students, and adults. The group will then return about a week later.
"We're going to help out at the school that the mission built," she said. Also, she expects to be heavily involved in building home shelters for families and implementing other programs supported by contributors to the Plattsburgh-based organization.
Six hundred and fifty dollars is the cost to build a home shelter, Robare said; a facility that is little more than a makeshift one-room shelter with no electricity or plumbing. Still, it is a gift that brings a Nicaraguan family great joy.
"That's another reason why I'm going is to see the smiles on their faces," she said, "just to see their happiness and to help them get that happiness."
The mission helps in many other ways as well, such as planting moringa trees that aid in water purification, gathering donations of medical supplies to combat widespread health issues, and distributing Nicaraguan rice and beans to the area's most impoverished families.
"That way we're helping them two-fold," Robare said, "because we're buying their food and giving it to their people."
Robare's classmates have put together plans for a senior trip to San Diego in the coming weeks, but she saw little fulfillment in raising funds for a California fling.
"I figured why do that when I could do something that can help people," she said.
Robare is no stranger to community service, having been involved in several local projects through Girl Scouts and National Honor Society, as well as supporting youth programs at her church. She has also been helping package donations of food and clothing for North Country Mission of Hope in preparation for her trip.
The trip will be Robare's first overseas, but she has little reservations about it. She said her biggest fear is the possibility of being emotionally overwhelmed by the poverty of the people she's helping.
"I'm slowly learning more and more about the culture," she said. "I'm still probably going to be shocked."
But she's prepared for that, she said, and even more prepared for the experiences that come with making a positive impact.
"I'm extremely excited to go," said Robare. "Every day it's getting closer and I'm getting more excited."
For more information about North Country Mission of Hope, visit www.ncmissionofhope.org. People wishing to financially support the organization can send a check payable to North Country Mission of Hope, 206 New York Rd., Plattsburgh, NY 12901. Those specifically wishing to help fund Robare's trip to Nicaragua should note her name on the check.