The August 2017 Enfoque Ixcán/Amigos Eye Care Team trip to Ixcán, Guatemala has been completed and was highly successful.
In just 4 days of clinics this mixed group of students, doctors, lay-volunteers and Guatemalan helpers examined 1209 patients. Over 580 pairs of glasses were dispensed and 70 people were referred for surgeries at a local Guatemalan eye clinic. The exams and glasses were given at no cost and the surgeries will be paid for by Enfoque Ixcán.
We visited two beautiful, remote villages where we examined the students in the primary schools, the teachers and many of the adults of the villages. Part of our work was done out-of-doors in the sun and humidity. The other part was in classrooms with very little ventilation, so the heat and humidity were even greater. But, the kids were beautiful and full of energy and the adults were quick to thank us for coming to their village. This was the first time 95% of them had ever had their eyes examined. It is a thrill to give glasses to a very nearsighted adult allowing them to see, for the first time, what a terrific view of the mountains their village offers.
Our students practiced their optometry skills and everyone learned something about life in a remote part of the world, with almost no access to professional eye care. Our hearts were touched by the gratitude of people living in extreme poverty, and we were awed by the resilience and spirit of people who work hard to make their lives as rich and meaningful as they are able.
I remember a time on these trips when several of our team would spend a day or so feeling sick. This year was perhaps the healthiest we’ve ever experienced. We can thank our cooks for that. Ruth and her daughter, Velbeth, came from a city 3½ hours away to spend the week with us making sure we ate well and stayed healthy. They were important members of this team of superstars!
We heard many times, as the patients shook our hands to leave, “Gracias a Dios por ustedes y su ayuda.” (Thank God for you and your help.) The trip was a success because of the hard work of our team of volunteers. Besides bringing eye care to these people, we showed them that someone in the world cares. That their lives matter. “Gracias a Dios.”