The 14th annual Enfoque Ixcan / Amigos Eye Care mission trip to Ixcan, Guatemala is completed. There are many ways to measure success on these trips.
Let’s start with the numbers. In 4 days of clinics our team of 12 examined 1,090 people and dispensed 550 pairs of free glasses. In addition, 77 people were referred for further professional evaluation. Most of these people will need cataract or other eye surgeries.
Special, unique glasses prescriptions were written for 24 individuals and those will be manufactured in Guatemala and delivered when completed. We take with us dozens of donated frames used for these special prescriptions. The patients are asked to contribute, if possible, a small amount to help pay for the lenses. This allows us to pay for more glasses and surgeries and gives the patients a greater respect for their eye care needs.
Now, I should mention other ways of measuring the success of a mission trip. One would be the number of times we are thanked for coming to the communities to provide eye care services. We heard “Gracias a Dios” more times than we could count. Another sign of success is the smiles on people’s’ faces when they experience clear vision for the first time in many years, or maybe for the first time in their lives.
The measure of success most striking to me was seeing a little 6-year-old girl receive her first pair of glasses. Finding the right pair for her was a long process, involving several students and doctors. All during this time she was very serious, never smiled and probably was feeling quite intimidated by all the attention. We all felt very satisfied when she walked away wearing the glasses. Then she stopped and came back to one of our optometry student volunteers and, with a big smile, whispered, “Gracias.” I saw a heart melt in that instant, and I felt it too.
August 23, 1026