The Rise of Hope, As One Man Tells It
By Leigh Baker
We are constantly reminded of the conflict in Darfur and the AIDS battle in Africa, but have you heard anything lately about the North Country Mission of Hope (NCMOH)? I hadn’t either until Ben Peryer, a fellow student at Marymount Manhattan College spoke of it.
In speaking with Peryer, I learned just what it is and what it means to him. “These projects not only helped me grow, but they made me realize what I wanted to do as a career.” It is something that he has been heavily involved with since age 16.
What exactly is NCMOH? The organization was created in 1992 as a humanitarian effort in response to Hurricane Mitch. When the opportunity to help someone in need presented itself, Peryer jumped. It was started at his rival high school, but that was no matter because a recent family vacation to South Africa had taught him of the horrors of desperate poverty.
“As we drove from the beach to a restaurant or wherever we were lucky enough to be going, we would pass miles and miles of shanty towns. To me, they looked like garbage fields, so you can image how shocked I was to see people living in them,” Peryer says of his vacation. “Our air conditioned sedan created this line, this divide, between myself and reality as it drove along the road,” he said.
This divide would soon be broken with his involvement in NCMOH. Peryer was sent to Chiquilistagua, Nicaragua where, he explains, that he became a part of the community. “We lived in a compound right in the middle of the village. It would seem wrong to do it any other way.” This mission team was given jobs that would benefit the shattered community, such as food delivery, and establishing medical clinics and shelters, to name a few.
Peryer says he enjoyed the daily run of food because it allowed him to interact with the others, but his most rewarding experience was building a home for someone. “Community members started to get involved in the building. We taught them a little, they taught us much more.”
Audaciously, Peryer tackled another hurdle by establishing a pharmacy in the name of a close friend and a founding sponsor of NCMOH, Gary Moore. Unfortunately, Mr. Moore had passed away shortly before one of Peryer’s trips. “[I did it] to honor him and all that he did for me and the organization,” he explains.
Peryer didn’t stop there. He increased his efforts at home by fundraising, joining the Board of Directors as a student representative, and sponsoring the education of a child. He knew the child, Rodolfo, for a year before sponsoring him, providing time to build a relationship. He speaks of Rodolfo with utter adoration. “He's a good friend, and a killer soccer player.”
Though Peryer is no longer on the executive team due to his inability to attend each meeting, he is still as active in the organization as possible. Attending speaking tours and hoping to revisit Rodolfo in the near future, Peryer expresses his gratitude and sheer appreciation for the opportunity that he has had. I think we can all say that the world is one step closer to breeching the divide that Peryer initially saw, while hope continues to rise for others around the globe.