We have just completed our third successful mission to Guatemala, after a busy week of cataract and ptergyium surgeries. Although we have become quite experienced at running these eye camps (our third since 2010), the gratitude and appreciation we feel for the people of Guatemala always feels fresh and new when our work ends. Guatemalans are indeed a very colorful and vibrant thread in the fabric of humanity. Their smiles, their affection, their humility, and, above all, their resilience in the face of disease is truly remarkable. We brought along many new team members this time, many who were on their first international medical mission. Like me a few years ago, they arrived here enthusiastic about helping others see better. But they leave humbled and thankful to these same patients for making us better human beings.
Humanity First USA’s 3rd Annual Gift of Sight Eye Clinic
Humanity First USA’s Gift of Sight team will return to Proyecto Salud y Paz in Chichicastenango, Guatemala for another week-long eye camp to provide free eye care to rural Guatemalans. In collaboration with Humanity First Guatemala and IPC (Panamerican Institute against Blindness), the Gift of Sight team will perform eye surgeries and provide pre- and post-operational care and medicines to patients.
This year’s Gift of Sight mission is the third annual trip that has been organized and carried out under the guidance of Gift of Sight Program Director and ophthalmologist Dr. Ahsan Khan. Lead ophthalmologists for the 2012 camp are Dr. Charles Bouchard and Dr. Ali Djalilian. Dr. Bouchard is the Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, and Dr. Djalilian is the Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. They are joined by ophthalmology resident, Dr. Hajra Saeed, anesthesiologist Dr. Saqib Ali, Dr. Amir Mehralian, surgical technical Juan Nunez, as well as several student volunteers. The US team will be working alongside Guatemalan surgeons, residents, nurses and surgical technicians from IPC during the Gift of Sight eye camp.
Thirty-five surgeries have already been completed during the preliminary clinic held by Humanity First Guatemala and IPC, and the Gift of Sight team anticipates another year of success, as we restore vision to those in need. We cannot do this without your support: please consider making a contribution — with a $100 donation, you can cover costs for one cataract surgery and help give the gift of sight.
The 2011 Gift of Sight eye camp introduced the optometry clinic set up and directed by optometrist Dr. Amna Malik. Over 125 patients received free full eye exams and prescription eye glasses donated by Lions Club International.
There were several patients in the optometry clinic who had prescriptions that were difficult to match. With the support of ReSpectacle, the Gift of Sight volunteers were able to find glasses for these individual. ReSpectacle is a non-profit organization that facilitates the redistribution of quality used eyeglasses to underserved individuals around the world. The donated glasses they receive are cleaned, categorized and loaded into an online database. Ophthalmologist and 2010 Gift of Sight team member Dr. Tayyeba Ali is the organization’s Chief International Officer and one of the co-founders; using the information recorded by the Gift of Sight volunteers, she was able to match several of the prescriptions and mail these eyeglasses to Guatemala. The Humanity First Guatemala team then delivered the eyeglasses to Proyecto Salud y Paz, and patients were contacted with the assistance of their staff.
The patients were all content with the eyeglasses that they had received. The Gift of Sight team is grateful for the partnership with ReSpectacle to help fight blindness, and looks forward to restoring vision of even more patients during the upcoming 2012 Guatemala eye camp.
Saturday, November 26th marked the last day of Gift of Sight 2011 with the final post operation clinic held at Salud y Paz in Chichicastenango. The post-op team included HF Guatemala Director David Gonzalez, Aliya Latif, Dr. Josa Carlos Garcia and Dr. Jorge Sanchez. All of the patients’ surgeries were successful, and they expressed gratitude for having their vision restored.
The Gift of Sight team would like to thank every individual who supported this trip in any manner - without your contributions, we would not have been able to give the gift of sight to the people of Guatemala.
The HF Gift of Sight team was hosted by the wonderful staff at Salud y Paz during their week long eye clinic in Guatemala this year. Heather Nielsen is a registered nurse who works at the clinic and she has written a great post about her experience with the Humanity First team.