Dear Friend of Enfoque Ixcan,

I greet you warmly, hoping that you are finding ways to stay safe, healthy, and in good spirits despite our challenging times.

From Oregon to Guatemala and across the world, people are facing the coronavirus crisis at the same time.  We are all dealing with uncertainty, grief, hardship, and restrictions on our mobility.  Yet depending on our location, life situation, and place in society, we are experiencing the pandemic in different ways.

Some of us live in comfortable, well-stocked homes with plenty of food, medicine, and entertainment options. Others do not have running water, food reserves, or access even to simple supplies, such as a needed pair of eyeglasses.

Now more than ever, as all of humanity faces the same crisis, we realize how connected our world truly is.  Now more than ever, we reflect on how we can share our abundance with those who have been denied decent health care and well-being.

Preparing corn for the grinder, a daily job
collecting firewood
Ixcan kitchen
Ixcan hospital operating room


In some ways, daily life continues as usual in Ixcán, Guatemala.  Most people in the region are farmers – essential workers – who continue to tend their fields, care for their animals, and grind corn for their daily tortillas.  Still, Ixcán residents are feeling the pandemic’s effects: loss of income, scarcity of food and other supplies, and a strained health care system.

The Guatemalan government has ordered strict physical distancing measures, including a daily curfew, closures of borders and schools, no public transportation, a halt to travel between regions, and the obligatory use of masks. While these measures have helped contain the spread of disease, no parallel policies have been enacted to mitigate the social and economic impacts of the crisis or to ensure proper medical treatment for those who become sick.

The Guatemalan public health care system is ill-equipped to handle the influx of Covid-19 cases.  In Guatemala City, where coronavirus cases are concentrated, public hospitals are overflowing, and patients with “mild” symptoms are being transferred to hotels. Clinics around the country are understaffed and under-equipped.  Health care workers in places like Ixcán have to provide their own masks!  Some Guatemalans prefer to suffer illness at home rather than risk the dismal conditions at public health care facilities.

That is why Enfoque Ixcán is so crucial: we provide high-quality eye care services to a population that otherwise would have little or no access to eye health care.  We serve a population that has been neglected and marginalized, yet, a population that shows resilience and forward thinking in the face of adversity.

Many communities in the Ixcán are organized and proactive.  To reduce their coronavirus risk they have set up checkpoints and control booths to restrict access into their villages.  Some elders plan to move to their corn fields to live in their storage sheds and isolate away from the population if Covid-19 appears in their communities.

We have had to suspend travel for eye surgeries during the Covid-19 crisis, for our employees’ and patients’ safety and in accordance with public health regulations. Currently, people in Ixcán who are going blind from cataracts or other treatable conditions are confined to their homes and villages, unable to seek care.  Given this pent-up need developing during the pandemic, we anticipate a surge in patients once the lockdown is lifted.

Will you help to ensure that essential eye care is available for them? With Enfoque Ixcán, each dollar goes a long way. Your $20 donation can provide a pair of prescription glasses. For $160, you can sponsor a cataract surgery and restore sight to someone who feared that they would never see again.

Whatever amount you’re able to give, please know that it will go directly to support eye care for the deserving people of Ixcán.

Your generous gift can make a significant improvement in someone’s quality of life.

Thank you, and take care of yourself and your family.

Scott Pike, OD