Thursday, August 3, 2017

Eye Clinic -- Dominican Republic Mission Drip 2017 Day 4

This is the fourth of nine daily blog posts from our Diocesan Mission trip to Santiago, Dominican Republic from July 21-29.  I'm posting one a day now that we have returned to the states.  A daily bog from others of our team can be found on our Diocesan blog:

July 24
One of the ministries our mission group is undertaking this week is an eye clinic.  The clinic was supposed to happen last year, but customs didn’t like the paperwork that accompanied the eyeglasses.  Whether the Dominican customs agent was looking for a bribe, was part of a bureaucracy playing petty power games, or was genuinely concerned that Pastor Melinda was setting up a black market in eyeglasses on the streets of Santiago is hard to know.  Whatever the issue, the eyeglasses stayed at the customs office during last year’s trip and returned to the states only when the group picked them up on their way home.

This year, the eyeglasses were sent ahead so that we could ensure their safe arrival.  When we got to the church Sunday with two cases of diagnostic equipment, we began to set up.  The first item of business was scanning the barcodes on the 500-ish pairs of glasses into the computer.  Through the Lion’s club we obtained donated eyeglasses, all of which were numbered and placed in packages that were barcoded with their prescription.  While four people were working on imputing that data, others practiced using the diagnostic scanner that “looked” into people’s pupils to determine their prescription.  We also paced off distances for reading eye charts.

This afternoon, we had over 25 appointments.  People came to the first station, where someone scanned their eyes.  The computer printed out their prescription, as well as the numbers of whatever glasses we had in our inventory that matched their prescription.  Then they read an eye chart to check their vision without glasses.  Next our “customers” brought their prescription to our “eyeglass store” where we pulled out the glasses that matched their prescription.  After trying on different options, they took the pair they liked.  Reading another eye chart with the glasses confirmed that they had the right pair.  Then, if the glasses needed any adjustment, Julie or Tina from our group would work to get the right fit. 

Some Children Peeking in on the Eye Clinic
Some folks got very excited about their glasses.  Our first customer shrieked with joy as soon as she tried on her pair of glasses and could see.  Others were clearly pleased to be able to see, and liked the way their new glasses looked.  The popular styles were colorful plastic frames that were regularly chosen over metal rims.  Three people came who ended up not needing glasses at all.  One person only needed reading glasses.  Three others had complicated prescriptions that we couldn’t provide today.  We took their names and prescriptions and will have glasses made for them in the States and shipped back down to Christo Salvador for them. 

Throughout the afternoon, one member of our group who works in an optometrist’s office, Julie, was everywhere.  She was adjusting glasses, double-checking prescriptions, getting information to take back to the States when necessary.  Her competency and leadership helped us help a couple dozen people today.  Jesus said that the “eye is the lamp of the body,” and today we brought some light to people’s eyes.   

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