Five Carson City residents may be headed for Mozambique

It appears five Carson City residents will take adventure traveler Gordon Hunsucker up on his offer to join a most-expenses-paid disaster relief expedition to Mozambique.

Hunsucker, a 1975 Carson High School graduate, expects to fly out of Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Monday with at least 10 Reno-Carson area residents.

These locals, plus another dozen or so volunteers from Denver and Boston and 12 doctors, expect to join the team in South Africa and will spend two weeks in sub-tropical Africa setting up medical clinics and distributing relief items to Mozambique.

Hunsucker envisions splitting into four teams and heading for remote spots of Mozambique, which was devastated by heavy flooding a month ago. One million people are still homeless.

"We're going to areas where they need the most help," Hunsucker said. "We're not staying in town. Anybody can do that."

Eric Bowman, Paolo Ramella, Melissa Chelius, Tom LaLonde and Jacob Nolan are the Carson City contingent that signed up to join Hunsucker, who owns the Reno-based adventure travel firm Adventure Quest.

"If I was in need, I would want somebody to help me," said Chelius, who will leave two children, ages 6 and 4, with her husband to travel to Mozambique.

Chelius said she has been on two medical missions to Mexico, but she added that is no comparison to the flood disaster regions of Mozambique where she will be helping Hunsucker's team.

She said it took her about 20 minutes to decide to go after reading about the opportunity to join a locally organized disaster relief team. Chelius said her husband supports her decision.

She figures her background in early childhood development and serving as a Brownie leader in Troop 252 in Carson City should serve her well.

"I don't know why, but kids like me," Chelius said.

Paolo Ramella, 33, who was born in Italy, lives in Carson City and works as maintenance director at Shade Tree Aviation. He got permission to take two weeks off.

"Otherwise, I take another job," Ramella said. "If you don't share my morals, I don't want to work for you. I always wanted to do something like this. When you live in a wealthy environment, you want to give back on the first occasion you can."

His wife, Jenny, also wanted to go but could not get the time off.

Jacob Nolan, 19, got the suggestion to go on the mission from is mother, Maggie. He latched onto the idea with vigor.

"I've always wanted to go to Africa," Nolan said. "I want to volunteer my time, I guess, and help."

He works at his parents' Family Motors car lots and can easily get away for a couple weeks, especially since Mom suggested he go.

"It's a good cause," Maggie Nolan said.

Hunsucker's organization is raising funds to pay for airfare, food and tents. The volunteers do need to pay for their own shots, which runs in the $200 range, as well as clothing and other gear suitable for a high humidity climate.

Several went to San Francisco this week to get passports.

Indian Hills resident Tom LaLonde, 63, has never left the country but, ironically, will use the Mozambique trip to warm up for a trip to the Philippines in October. LaLonde is a painting contractor who will have two men cover for him in his absence.

"Things will hold for two weeks while I'm gone," said LaLonde, who refurbished the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada several years ago.

The idea to go to Mozambique came to LaLonde a bit over a week ago while at the dentist.

"When I was at the dentist's office, I noticed an article about a disaster relief mission to Mozambique at about 9 a.m., and I called Gordon at 10 a.m.," he said. "This is something I can get into. I'm in real good shape. I'm a handyman. I'm qualified to do a lot."

Eric Bowman, 23, a student at Western Nevada Community College, maintains the computers at Java Joe's.

"How convenient, the first week (of the Mozambique trip) is during spring break (at WNCC)," Bowman said. "I want to get off the continent. I'm always up for adventure. I've hitchhiked and hopped trains."

Ray Marshall of Mound House and Carol Kuhn of Carson City both signed consent forms Monday to join Hunsucker but withdrew the next day. Marshall couldn't come up with the money for shots and passport, and Kuhn after the meeting did research on the region on the Internet and talked to people who moved from South Africa a couple years ago.

"There were some things on the Internet that bothered me," said Kuhn, who had planned on leaving two children with her husband to go to Africa. "It's just a little too dangerous. I have to be fair to my kids."


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