As the jungle mist begins to rise from the trees and mountains on the horizon, the main town in Ixcán, Cantabal, comes to life in the morning sun. Trucks and buses from far off villages converge here carrying people and their products for the day’s market. At the far end of the main street a small group of people begins to gather. They range in age from 7 to 93, male and female, some live in Cantabal, some got on a bus at 4 am to arrive here to meet by 8 am.
It’s Monday, February 23rd, 2015 and the people gathering are preparing for a 5 hour bus trip the town of San Benito, Petén. They are led by Enfoque Ixcán’s eye health promoter, Felipe. He is taking them to have eye surgeries at a private social service eye clinic called Visualiza. They will be gone for 3 days. Imagine what might be going through their minds.
For the 93-year old who has been blind for the last 3 years and didn’t know until recently that anything could be done for cataracts, the prospects of seeing her family, friends and home again must be exciting. But the thought of someone cutting on her eye must also be frightening.
For the 7-year old who was born without a tear duct on her right lower lid, the trip will be mysterious. She doesn’t know what to expect. All she knows is that for her entire life she has been wiping tears off her face as they have no way to escape except over her lid and down her cheek.
Of the other 22 travelers, most are excited to have their cataracts removed so they can continue to read, to work, and to be productive in their families and communities, to be self-sufficient again and not be a burden. Some of them are going because they don’t know what’s wrong with their vision and this is an opportunity to visit an eye doctor to find out.
The food and lodging for the trip, and the surgeries, are paid for by Enfoque Ixcán, through the generous support of individual donors, like you. Enfoque Ixcán has been making these trips possible for 12 years and over 320 eye surgeries have been funded.
This trip’s results were good. All the cataract surgeries were successful and some of the patients are looking forward to returning to have surgery on their other eye. The 93-year old will be able to live out her life seeing what’s going on around her. The 7-year old will have to return in April to see a specialist for her lid surgery. One of the travelers finds that the source of her reduced vision is a brain tumor and she is rushed to Guatemala City for care.
Felipe watches over all of them and gets them back to Cantabal safely. Then he starts planning for the next trip. The next trips depend on you. We have an abundance of patients and an excellent clinic which does the surgeries for less than $125. All that’s lacking is the funding.
Please use the PayPal button in the right-hand column to make your donation today.A little goes a long way on this journey of life, this quest for improved vision.