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Clinic Day 3- Lots of Joy

Sometimes it just feels you never get enough sleep. But when the alarm goes it reminds us that there are still people who need help and that is why we are here.
I shocked the team by actually being early and not holding up the van this morning. It’s hard to shower and be motivated when the sun is still rising.
Arriving at the church at 7am, there was already a line up forming. How could we possibly do more than we had done on Friday. The answer was with grace, one by one.
Once again, the church youth were cheery and energetic as they arrived and quickly helped us get everything set up and arranged for receiving patients.
I smiled at Irene and Nelson and said, “Let’s go!”
It was a older crowd that came through today. Mostly needing readers. I got to do a follow up with the patient from Friday that we had started on antibiotics and his eyes looked so much better. He was so grateful for our help and he blessed me for coming to his country. That is just the best way to be appreciated.
I h…

Exploring El Salvador

We got to sleep in until 7:30 today. It is Sunday and a day fo rest. What that means is a rest from clinics but instead a full day of exploring and activities.
Breakfast first and we were ready to hit the road at 9am. Our first stop was a bank machine to get a bit more cash. It work for my debit card and another one but a couple people had a problem so we needed to find a different one. My problem was that it charged me $4.50USD service fee! I was even more frustrated when the next machine we found was actually a Scotiabank which would have had NO fee for me. I HATE wasting money like that...but nothing I could do now.
There was a Starbucks in the plaza at the bank machine but everyone said we didn’t have time for that. Well, until the van’s tire got flat and we needed to get it fixed. Then people needed a bathroom and it seemed rude to use it without purchasing. I got my usual Vanilla Bean Frap but honestly, the milk tastes different so it was a bit of a let down.
Our next stop was a…

A Day With The Kids

This morning we were ready for a day free of optical duties. After 186 assessments the day before, it was actually a much needed break.
Today we were participating in a community outreach that brought kids and sports together. I was really looking forward to that as the only organized sport I really enjoy is curling and I was pretty sure that wasn’t an option.
But I prepared myself for a day outside by covering my freshly showered skin with first a layer of sunscreen and then a layer of bug spray. It just feels wrong but it is the safest option. We have also decided that doing the sunscreen first is ideal as it is the bugs you need to stave off first so it should be the outer most layer.
We loaded into the van and headed to the church for breakfast. It was on that drive that I found out that there were 3 pools at the facility we were going to and that we weren’t going back to the accommodations for a chance to get swimsuits. I was not pleased about that. What was more encouraging was …

A Well Oiled Machine-Clinic Day 2

I was so happy to wake up with a clear head and out of pain. Although I would still have some motor skills issues for the day(side effects of my medication), it was still the best possible outcome. I was glad to have a full night’s rest as we were on the road at 7am for breakfast with the clinic scheduled for 8am.
Dina had a comfort breakfast of porridge, toast and fresh fruit waiting for us. We were glad to have set up all the tables and chairs the night before to make the morning less frenzied and the youth group was back to help with the people and to make the day fun. As soon as the gate opened, people started a line. It didn’t take long for it to become 3 layers deep. We were ready to help as many as we could. A typical day with 2 Opticians in Malawi meant we could see up to 150people. My hope was to do that today to with me doing all the refractions and Mary and Mabel fitting and dispensing. We are finding that the accuracy of the autorefractor is dependent on the charge so it i…

The Surprise Clinic Day

It is American Thanksgiving today. Instead of turkey and waiting for shopping deals I am serving people who are truly grateful to have their eyes checked, often for the first time.
We are fully prepared for a large crowd and excited about the task at hand. Loaded into the van, we cruise through the streets of Santa Ana. It is not very busy yet but we are slowed down by a few cows on the road.
We pull into a community centre compound that has several buildings in bright Miami colours and sports fields. It is funded by the government as a youth retreat and outreach to keep them from joining gangs.
We are greeted by some very excited young people in bright orange shirts. They are volunteers from Melvin’s church who want to help us. They are energetic and friendly and I am glad to have their energy. It takes us some time to get organized and figure out what the best set up should be. We finally find 2 adjacent rooms and will use the hallway for waiting areas.
When the families arrive, we …

From One Country to the Next

I woke to the sound of the pattern of rain which was mich quieter than the squawking of birds that we normally hear. It was the last morning in Nicaragua and we have had fantastic weather so a a warm rain felt like tears falling as we had to say good bye.
We had mostly packed all the bags the night before but with a few personal items, we re-checked the weight and shifted some things so that we distributed everything into equal packs. Considering that we were leaving a couple of hundred pairs of glasses, lots of medical supplies and all the optical machines, it was incredible that we still had 2 bags for every person and 2 overweight. We might had done a bit of shopping at the markets and we still have coffee to get in El Salvador.
We had no problem checking through and again were taking a small dual engine jet for the 1hr flight. We just hoped all the luggage came with us.
It was a short flight so we only had a snack given to us. A mixed bag snack and a small croissant with ham, che…

A Roller Coaster Finish In Nicaragua

It was an earlier start for our last full day in Nicaragua. Katrina and I were headed to the hospital to do some training and set up the eye assessment clinic. We would join the rest of the team at the community clinic close to lunch.
On the way in the van, our interpreter Samuel and driver Cecilio serenaded us with Spanish hymns. It was awesome. Arriving at the hospital, the building looked like it had been a school that was converted to a medical centre. It really wasn’t that busy despite having free care. That is because there are limited staff and often no supplies for treatment.
They were thrilled with the boxes of medical supplies we had brought with us and quickly set about doing an inventory. They had to ask us what some of the supplies were- clamps and such, as they hadn’t had them before.
I was working with Dr Marceil Terres Garcia. He was a family physician that had been at one of the community clinics with us. He was going to train on the optical equipment and on doing eye…