Clinic Blog: 2011 South Africa 2 Clinic Blog
October 24, 2011
Stories from the Heart
Members of team Mtubatuba are having an amazing time helping people see the world better. Team members are collecting story after story of touching moments of their time here in Mtubatuba. These stories will stay with them for years to come (and their families and loved ones will hear for a long time).
Rob Martens, Luxottica Optical Manufacturing, Winnipeg, Canada.
Reading all of my teammates previous blogs makes it very clear that this has been a very emotional experience for everyone involved. As the Engineer on the team, I feel obligated to bring a certain level of practicality to my commentary. Here are a few observations regarding participating in a clinic in a tropical location…
- Clean water is your friend. Do not take it for granted. Remaining hydrated is extremely important in 30 C heat. We have essentially cleared out the bottled water supply of both the hotel and the town. This is a necessity as we are not willing to risk the quality of the local water supply. If you don’t think this is a big issue, think of having to brush your teeth and clean your toothbrush every morning using bottled water. A clean tap source becomes a precious commodity.
- Haggling at the local craft market is a lot of fun. There is a lot of satisfaction to be had in getting that carved elephant down from 100 Rand to 75. However, the satisfaction of saving essentially $2 (nothing to us), is quickly lost when you realize that 25 Rand you saved today could have fed that family tomorrow. Everything here is a matter of scale…
- Never underestimate the value of a bathroom door. We take them for granted. They apparently do not exist in South Africa, even in what I consider to be the equivalent of a 3 star hotel by North American Standards. The hotel bathrooms are in a corner of the room, but do not have a door. The facilities at the clinics barely have walls, never mind doors (or TP for that matter…). Daily activities are frequently planned based on the availability and timing of reaching a modern bathroom.
- The quickest way to make new friends in a crowd is to be the only person who remembered to bring a bottle opener or cork screw.
- Shoes are not something to take for granted. The schoolyards have been sand, and often filled with bits of broken glass. Many of the children here are barefoot.
- Bandwidth is precious. The hotel lobby has a wireless connection that has proven to be the lifeline for many of us to our loved ones. With the time difference, the e-mail you send at bedtime becomes the wonderful reply you get before breakfast. How did we survive before smartphones. Many of us did not bother with cameras because our phones are extremely practical cameras too…
This continues to be a wonderful experience. As the “medic”, I’ve been fortunate to have nothing more to do than dispense the occasional band-aid. We’re all tired but have remained very safe. Let’s hope we finish just as strong !
Love to everyone in Winnipeg – I know it will be snowing when I get home !
Ann Rice, LensCrafters GM, Glendale, AZ
For me the experience is more than just about the connection that we have with our patients, it is about the connection that we have with each other (38 other people that most of us have never met). Onesight brought together people from all parts of the world, the US, Italy, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Poland, New Zealand and South Africa to bring the gift of sight to the people of Mtubatuba, South Africa in Kwazulu Natal. The team had one day to get it together to work as team of ambassadors for Onesight, it was amazing how everyone worked together in such a short time. It is hard to explain how much each person brings to the team, not only in skill but in personality. I could not have imagined the connection and how much each person would mean to me. We have 3 clinic sites where most Onesight Clinics have only 1 or 2 sites. We have to set-up and tear down 3 times and for the weekend do a mini tear down, our team got it down to 40 minutes and no one ever complained. To see team members jump in to help each other with a patient, or with an adjustment, to help lift a box or direct someone & the stories they share at the end of the day, each one more heartfelt than the next. It is rare to see so many personalities meld together so fast and with such ease. I believe that it is the uniqueness of the team members and the passion for the cause. I am so thrilled that I have had the pleasure to meet each and every team member and hope to stay connected to them after the mission is over. If you have ever been on an OneSight Mission you are probably thinking that’s how my team was, but, the reality is – we truly are a team that works as a team and really enjoys the time together. As IMS lead I rarely see the patient with the end result, but I know they are receiving quality of care from our team.
Tom Wible, Sunglass Hut, Mason, OH
Today I was dispensing glasses and I was getting a pair of sunglasses for a woman who was about 65 years old. I found a nice pair of Vogue frames that, while large, would give her full eye coverage. When I put them on her, she started talking very fast to the translator. The translator, Claire, began to laugh. Claire told me that the woman felt the glasses were too big for her face and that if she was running and chasing after her cows, they would fall off her face and break so she would like a smaller pair. I chucked as well and told her that we couldn't have them falling off while she was running after her cows, so I found a smaller frame that would allow her to run, jump and enjoy herself. Fellow team member Roche Mopp handed me an eyeglass chain to put on her sunglasses so if they did fall off her face, they wouldn't fall to the ground.