TWECS 2019 (PERU)
TWECS 2019 (PERU) - RETURNS TO THE ANDEAN FOOTHILLS OF LIMA PERU
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
It’s been another lovely project with TWECS full of bountiful affirmations of WHY projects like this matter. What really resonated with me this trip was community. Community in the places who hosted us, full of people who work hard year round to elevate the quality of life for the people they serve. Community in the people we served who helped each other understand our limited Spanish and brought their families, friends and neighbors to the clinics. Community in the lovely little hotel we stayed at who were not only excited to host our group but some hotel staff came and volunteered at the clinic, too. Community in the excitement of watching Peru play in the gold metal game of the COPA soccer final. Within all of that, the community of our team who maybe strangers at first or long time friends (and familes too!), experienced in the industry or laypeople all coming together to work hard to help bring clear vision to these delightful people. There was a strong family dynamic as well with parents and their teens on this project and it was powerful to watch the passion, integrity and impetus of efforts like this be experienced and shared together as family.
NEEDING TO BE HEARD
This is my first eye care mission trip since I was in optometry school 25 years ago and I have been so looking forward to it. It’s hard to believe that it has come to an end. Each day has been filled with so many emotions, excitement, frustration, exhaustion and a whole lot of fun. The third day when we were in Jicamarca we were on a roll in triage- (that means picking out the people that don’t need glasses, need further testing or sending them to get glasses) we were seeing a girls school. One after the other there were a number of girls with 20/20 vision and no need for glasses. I know enough spanish to tell them “los ojos es mui bien- no nececittas para los lentes” ( your eyes are fine and you do not need glasses) Suddenly one of those girls pulled Father Paul over who offered to help with translation so she could talk to me. She was worried because when she read her eyes get tired and water. Suddenly there were 6 other girls surrounding me. My first thought was “uh oh” this is not part of the plan. There were people lined up waiting to be seen and I did not have time for this. My thought initially was for Father Paul to just tell them all that their eyes were checked and were fine so I could keep the line moving. But I took a moment and looked at their eager faces which were all very concerned.
They politely raised their hands and waited for Father Paul to call on them. Their questions may have seemed minor but not to them. I took the time to listen to each of them and answer their questions. At the end they all smiled and gave me a gracias. My colleagues Rita and Brad came over to make sure everything was ok when they saw the girls crowded around me. I told them I had it under control. Later Brad asked me what had happened and my response without thought was that a bunch of teenage girls just needed to be heard.
Don’t we all. I have truly enjoyed being a part of TWECS Peru project. I love the camaraderie of the team who came together from Canada and different parts of the US. A group of different ages, background and experiences with a common mission to bring eye care to those who may not have easy access to that care with respect, dignity and a sense of fun. Thank you Derrick and Marina for all the work you put into this project which was so well organized. Thank you to the people that sponsored and supported me on this project. My family, friends and especially to Anne Searle who along with her coworkers at Trellance very generously sponsored me with funds and donated eye glasses. Until next time.
Rene Royal, OD
I had the pleasure of meeting with a few of my patients after their visits to the dispensary, including my first patient of the day. Lisa brought her back to show me how happy she was and I could not help but to hug her and celebrate her newly improved vision. These moments of celebration happen all throughout our mission and witnessing that moment gave me strong motivation for the day. Watching another woman change from tears of sadness to those of joy after I told her she gets to keep the low vision device I gave her for sewing was another one of those moments. Aside from all we are able to accomplish for our patients visually, we hope to instill in them an understanding of the importance of eye care. This vision mission has been enlightening and encouraging for me to continue forward in this profession and the volunteer opportunities it allows.
By Dr. Elisabeth Hottel, New Mexico
ONE PERSON AT A TIME
What a week! This trip was filled with many different emotions and friendships made that will last a lifetime.
Senior Student, St. Thomas More Colegiate
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS THINK AND THEY WILL GROW
Dr. Brad McDougall, Vancouver BC
This is my second eye care mission to Peru and tenth overall. What makes this one extra exciting, is that I was able to bring my 15 year-old daughter, Teagan, along for the experience. Since she and her brother were very little, “Mom” has been disappearing for at least two weeks a year to help others who live remotely and don’t have access to eye care and glasses. This isn’t easy on the family who are left behind and I’m very appreciative for a supportive husband who knows how important these trips are to me. Now she, too, understands the joy these trips bring to everyone involved. She also has the opportunity to see how others live and more importantly, to realize how similar we all are as humans, no matter one’s circumstances.
Working specifically as a volunteer optometrist is the only skill I have that I feel confident about. So I love being here and putting that skill to good use. I was told in 2012, my first mission to Peru, “You are providing dignity to the least wealthy of our people. They are not used to even seeing doctors, let alone having the doctors smile at them, talk to them, and hug them.” Those words have stuck with me ever since. Everyone deserves to feel dignified and if I can do that AND provide glasses to help further their education, help them do their job, and simply improve their quality of life, then I’m all in. 100% of me wants to do that. Hugs from little children and the abuelos and abuelas is the best reward.
Dr. Rita Messing
CHEF FOR THE DAY
We are staying in a boutique style hotel in Lince, Lima. The second day, I took a peek at their kitchen – tiny, functional, and the best part is – without the presence of a snobbish chef. I was inspired and felt that a hot wholesome homestyle dinner would be something the mission members would need. With the help of Marina, we managed to convince the hotel to let me use the kitchen – on two conditions – for one dinner only, and that I start preparation some time in the afternoon.
The day came (two days ago), and I managed to finish all the shopping in the local market by noon but was only able to get access to the kitchen by 3:30pm. I was lucky enough to have Carlos and Jose (or Juan) from the hotel to help me. Then the shocking news came. “no hay agua, Señor.” What do you mean, there’s no water? Took me a while to realize that the water rationing is in effect in the afternoon. My first course is vegetable soup! We managed to try and get the remaining reserved water from the tap, which took about half an hour to fill up the soup pot. What a nightmare! Anyway, the meal turned out fine but the experience was something I will never forget. I think the mission members liked it, as there was not much leftover. There’s always an opportunity to add a bit of spice in our lives. Pardon the pun.
This is my second mission with TWECS. Although I’m a bit more experienced, the emotion and gratification are just as intense. It was also encouraging to see many young and energetic girls at the school we spent three days at. Hopefully, with better education, they will not grow up as another ama de casa (housewife) with five kids from different men, as we encountered last year in Costa Rica.
In Jicamarca and Canto Grande, I was reminded that, living in our own comfortable surrounding where most people are often overly concerned with what they want and desire, we’ve sometimes forgotten that many people in some other parts of the world can only have very little of what they need. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share some of our blessings that we often take for granted.