Honduras Vision Brigade 2018
In late February, the Rotary Club of Asheville sponsored a vision and dental mission to Copan Ruinas, Honduras. I have been a member of this club since moving to Asheville in 2016 and it was my honor to join the brigade. We had been planning for this trip all year with fundraisers, medical supply collections, and re-purposed eyeglasses donated from many sources, including Envision Eyecare’s community of patients. Thank you for that!
The trip to get there was not easy enduring a 5-6 hour bus ride through rugged terrain after a long flight. The days were exhaustingly long and hot, but extremely rewarding to give back the precious sense of sight to those in need. Before our visit, many of these poverty stricken individuals were unable to effectively cook, sew, weave, read, and provide for their families due to poor eyesight. To broaden our reach, we bussed people to our clinic from other remote areas that did not have access to transportation. These people waited all year for our brigade and were immensely grateful to receive our services.
It’s amazing what we take for granted and how easily we lose focus on what is important. I saw a variety of eye diseases not prevalent in the United States. In our country, typically they are caught and treated through newborn screenings. When undiagnosed, as in the cases we treated, these diseases are devastating to vision.
We served over 1000 people in need and a few stories that stand out are: Carlos, a 9 year old, whom I removed a metal foreign body from his eye. If left untreated, a scar would have formed due to infection and eventually would cause a permanent loss of his vision. Second, a severely nearsighted little girl, Josefina, was never able to see well due to her uncorrected vision. Once I placed the correct prescription glasses over her eyes, she wept because she was finally able to see her mother clearly for the first time.
I will be returning next year with more awareness of the materials needed to provide eye care to even more people. The humble living conditions and non-existent healthcare system really brings perspective on what is truly important in life. It’s unclear who received more out of this experience; us for helping them, or the Hondurans for receiving our care. Thank you so much for donating your eyeglasses to help our cause and for reading my account of this meaningful experience.