Clinic Blog: 2012 The Gambia Clinic Blog
May 27, 2012
An unexpected Gift from Following a Dream
Eight years ago I read Paul Coehlo's book 'The Alchemist.' Simply put it is about having the courage to say yes to following your dream, no matter how difficult or frightening it may be. I decided to buy an extra copy to read on the plane ride to The Gambia as I was finally able to follow my own dream - a dream to come to Africa to work (as opposed to coming as a tourist). I thought I would give the book to someone else from OneSight to read on the plane ride back home. I wanted to share this wonderful book.
On our second day of clinic I met an amazing local volunteer from Brikama, Sillah. He was motivated, caring, and always ready to help. I found out he doesn't normally work at the clinic. He was off from his job and just wanted to help his community (to quote, "to stay home and do nothing would be boring"). I also found out he works at a book binding business and is starting his own commercial bus company - very entrepreneurial. I decided that before clinic ended I would give him 'The Alchemist' as a gift - although I imagine he is already living his dream.
When I worked in dilation on the third day. I learned a few words in Mandinka, including 'come sit here' and 'thank you.' I saw this young boy looking at me, surprised at my use of the local language Mandinka. I think he was curious about this white lady speaking his language and helping his people. I enjoy seeing curiosity. When he came around to get drops and sunglasses I took his picture and asked his name - 'Babuku.' I spelled it the way it sounded to me, 'Babuka' and asked him if he could spell it so I would have the correct spelling. He printed it in my notebook but his printing was probably the same as my 6 year old son. I guessed Babuku was close to nine years old.
The next day he came to clinic just to say hi to me. The following Monday he show up with a carafe full of tiny fish. He offered it to me but I declined because I couldn't take them on the plane. I asked and found out he is actually 14, he is a very small 14, he has 6 siblings and Babuku is the oldest.
Then I was really curious because his printing was not good especially for a 14 year old. He only understood a little bit of English so I asked my good friend and volunteer interpreter Sainey to help me. With his help I found out Babuku doesn't go to school. This made me very unhappy and it made me wonder what he would do with his life, if when he got older he would have a family and not be able to send his children to school. I asked him if he would come back on Friday to say goodbye. I told him I would have an American baseball cap for him. Friday turned out to be a public holiday for The Gambian Independence and I did not see Babuku all day. I wanted to give Sainey something for helping me communicate with Babuku so at the end of the day I gave him the baseball cap instead. Five minutes later Babuku showed up. Fortunately I was sitting with Sillah so I said hello to Babuku and asked Sillah to interpret for me. I was looking for a tiny marble globe that I always carry in my bag and I also had a nice engraved pen as well as the marble.
I said to Sillah, please tell Babuku that this special pen of mine is now his and it is for him to learn to write. And then I handed him the marble globe and said, tell him that when he has learned to write the world will be his. I listened to Sillah as he explained in Mandinka, and heard him say "Europe, China, America" when talking about the globe as there are no Mandinka words for the continents. Then I asked Sillah since they both live in Brikama can he check in on Babuku to see how he is doing (Sillah and I had exchanged email info earlier). I didn't want to ask anything of Sillah as he had already given so much of his time, enthusiasm, and talent, but I felt Sillah would want to do this. He said he would and told Babuku that this was what would make me happy.
Now I feel the world is truly his because I know Sillah will be Babuku's mentor and I couldn't think of a better person to take on such an important responsibility. It was truly a gift to meet both Babuku and Sillah who both taught me so much. When people say coming to a OneSight clinic will change your life this is what they are talking about. Alix
Our ONESIGHT adventure ended as we boarded to return home. While flying, I began to really look back and began to think of all the highlights during our time in The Gambia giving the gift of sight and building sustainability. My favorite highlight was I had the privilege to go on a remote clinic site in the city of Basse with 4 other team members and students from different areas in Africa. Our journey began with a 6 hour ride and at times bumpy due to unpaved roads. Our adrenaline was racing as we were eager to help the people of Basse. When we would arrive to clinic, there would be hundreds of people lined up to seen. Our goal was to help as many as we possibly could but there was an ache in my heart as I knew it would be impossible to help the whole city with the amount of us there and only 3 clinic days before meeting up at our other clinic. There I also learned a new definition of passionate because there was one person who really inspired me. He was a local surgeon there named Pomodou who would help the people in Basse and in remote villages surrounding the small town. During a conversation with him, he told me that he declined a scholarship to attend college in the states in fear of never returning back to Gambia. He said he knew people who had left to the states and due to having a great lifestyle and basic needs, they never returned back to Gambia. He was so devoted to help as many people as he can for as long as he could by performing surgeries or exams. He is a very special person and I am a better person just for knowing him.
We are flying over the Atlantic Ocean, about to land in Newark. We have said goodbye to our European family and will soon disperse for our final legs home. Has it really been two weeks? It seems like yesterday and yet it also seems like forever since I kissed my family goodbye.
Being on a Onesight mission is like being a parent. You don't really "get it" unless you are there. I learned that after my first mission to India in 2010. It is an experience that all the stories with the best adjectives in the world cannot begin to describe. We as a team have been immersed in the sounds of the villagers as they live their lives and try to communicate with us in several languages. (and tolerate the snickering from them when we try to learn phrases) We have experienced the emotional exchanges between parents and children, patients and team members, volunteers and their community. We have cried with each other when we witnessed the miracle of new sight, and the tragedy of preventable blindness. We shared the smells of burning wood on the drive to clinic, and spices that linger on our patients clothes . We could never have shared this adventure without the love and support of our loved ones . Hopefully, Lisa's and the team's amazing writing has brought it to life for you. If given a chance, I would do it year after year . I hope that our journey has inspired some of you to consider putting yourself in our shoes. (lol- if so take an extra pair........ the locals really wanted our shoes :) "Thank you" sounds so inadequate for all that you have done for us to be here. One of my favorite sayings is:
Don't just go out in the world and do well.....
Go out and do good.
Thank you for enabling us to do that :)
Yesterday was our last day of clinic. As expected there were many people that we had to leave behind without being able to see but the beauty of the sustainable clinic model is that the students and volunteers are now more capable and knowledgeable in serving their community in their Eyecare needs. Throughout the day we took the time to have our clinic t-shirts signed by our Gambia 2012 teammates as well as the students and volunteers. We captured photos of our favorite volunteers to remember their beautiful Gambian smiles. They have taken a very special place in all our hearts. Polly quite often threatens us that the last person to arrive for meetings or debrief after clinic will have to sing their countries national anthem but somehow we were always happily early to get our clinic day started so no one had to perform. Just before debrief on yesterday our last day with our new Gambian family we all experienced an extremely special moment. There was a moment of silence that was broken when Sillah softly begin The Gambian national anthem. He sang all the way through and touched us so deeply. As I looked around the room I knew that this was definitely a profound moment in not only our Gambian experience but in our lives.
My experience here in the Gambia has been more amazing than I could ever have imagined. The Gambia is otherwise known as The Smiling Coast of Africa and I would whole heartedly agree. Everyday at clinic it was incredibly hot and humid but the local people came from miles away with flashlights in the early morning hours to be there with us for many hot hours on end. Each and every moment of every long hot day Team Gambia 2012 continued to keep their cool while sweating more than you can imagine as well as their smiles. The unity and feeling of being a OneSight family was and will continue to keep us smiling for many years to come. We leave The Gambia tomorrow feeling extremely proud of the quality of service we have provided. We will miss our new OneSight family members but are anxious to see what the further holds for all of us and especially hopeful that one day we will meet again in the next part of this big beautiful world that OneSight takes us to on our next adventure. Our definition of success for this particular mission is not in a number it that we have left the country of The Gambia better for having been there and touched peoples lives.
'Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it' Gambian proverb
May 23, 2012
Today is Wednesday and word of mouth is as we all know a very strong advertising tool. Everyday when we arrive at clinic after our 30 minute bus ride which is thankfully air conditioned but definitely not a smooth ride there are masses of Gambians waiting anxiously for us to get there and begin the process of helping them see. When locals find out from their friends, family and neighbors that we are here and providing such an amazing service that would take them many months to make enough Dalasi ($) to be able to afford and still they would not have the availability or the quality of product or care that we are providing. So as clinic gets nearer to the end more people show up just hoping for a chance to be able to see us. This is why the Sustainability Clinic that we are creating is so important to The Gambia. When we leave here the students we have spent this week training will carry on and continue to help the Gambian people with their vision and our hope is that they will also take the time to teach those that are younger so that it goes on and on.
We have seen more adults than children during our time here but today the children that we did see were mostly extreme cases of very poor vision. Alix was on visual acuities today and found a six year old girl Brinta who she thought was unable to understand the test, she went from there to auto refracting and they were unable to get readings there as well. Dr. Karen took over from there and by using the lenses in the phoropter in 3 diopter increments was very pleased to find that at -12.00 she was able to see. This for those of you who are not the eye business basically means she can only see about 3 inches in front of her face. Dr Karen knew that she was very scared and wanted to make sure she felt comfortable during the rest of her clinic experience . I was able to make her a -6.00 set of Chabellas which is in many ways perfect. She will have a soft introduction into being able to see better and Chabellas are glasses I was able to put together in 10 minutes and send her out to her grandmother who had been waiting patiently outside. I went to the doorway to make sure she was walking okay and not misstepping and saw the most beautiful smile come across her face as she greeted her grandmother and could actually see her. I believe Brinta as well as Karen and the rest of us who experienced her first moment of truly seeing will forever remember today and how special it made us all feel.
Dans cette mission je vois beaucoup d enfants qui ont des problemes aux yeux, plus que dans les 2 autres missions que j ai faites. Problemes d allergies, problemes de strabismes, aveugles d un oeil... Je suis tres touchée de voir autant d enfant dans cet etat la, car ce Sont des problemes qui chez nous pourraient être soigné et qui ici peuvent devenir un vrai handicap dans leur vie future. J espere pour eux que l on pourra les aider le plus possible.... Claire
May 22, 2012
Our volunteers are our bridge of communication with our recipients. The teach us a bit about their culture and their language and at times we learn about them. There is one particular volunteer that has consistently been there for the auto refraction team. He has taught us the words to help us communicate to the Gambian people and he is there everyday with a smile always there helping us. Not only has he directed but he has also learned how to run the machines and really enjoys it. Sillahs occupation is in book binding, he is not with Sight Savers but he is helping us during a month off of working where he did not want to just do nothing with his time and he heard about our event and he whole heartedly devotes his time to help us and the people of the Gambia. He has even mentioned that he is considered changing his trade to help people see. Sillah is one of those individuals whom I think we all know and appreciate. Abaraca Sillah
This week we have had not only our team from Basse come back to help us in our clinic in Brikama but the students from The Gambia have joined us as well. Now the real job of creating sustainability has begun. We have 7 fantastic young people who are very eager to learn and they are getting more experience from working with us in this one week than they would be exposed to in many years. We are very impressed with how quickly they are grasping the skills we are teaching them and really focusing more on teaching them that the quality of what they are doing counts just as much if not more than the quantity of people we help. One of the most important things that we feel they need to take away from this week is customer service skills. Culturally we are worlds apart and but we are working on bridging the gap in Eyecare service. We want to be very sure that when we leave The Gambia they will have the skills they need but also be able to serve with the heart.
May 21, 2012
My mom was a guidance counselor for many years, and there is one saying that I will always remember..."give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime." We met our students today and the real meaning of our clinic became apparent. These students are having the priceless opportunity of experience. In my optometry school career, we spent years trying to see as many patients as these students will see in days. We have a wonderful, caring, patient group of doctors who are working with these eager, receptive students. They are great and their efforts and ours will "feed" the eyes of the people of the Gambia for generations to come. Thanks Mom, this clinic is dedicated to you and the values that you have given me...I Love You!
When I arrived at the clinic in The Gambia last week I decided I wanted to make sure the patients felt comfortable with us. It's much easier to help people with their eyes when they aren't scared, much easier for them to work with us and provide them with proper care.
I tried learning a few words in the local language. If I saw a word written down I couldn't catch the proper inflection so I decided I could learn only one, maybe two words a day and practice it with the locals so I would be able to pronounce it.
Well it has paid off. When I say a word in Mandinka, like 'thank you' 'very nice' 'come sit here' 'see you tomorrow' I see their eyes light up. They look at me differently. They want to talk to me. It is as if in that moment I am not a stranger anymore, but a person they want to know.
The smile is a priceless treasure that I will carry with me forever in my heart. Thank you OneSight for this opportunity.
In the very near future OneSight will have a journal that we will be able to use and record our experiences on our fabulous adventures that we are so fortunate to be a part of. Today in the morning we were given cards that connected to the 4 Luxottica characteristics. Entrepreneurial, Imaginative, Passionate, Quick n Simple. They each have a focus for the day that we were asked to think about and we could share at the end of the day. Mine was in the Passionate category and I was to focus on what I am grateful for. I considered this throughout the clinic day. Sandro help me to create my moment today for which I am grateful. The opportunity to create special moments with OneSight. Sandro brought me a young man by the name of Sainey to select sunglasses. He was about my sons age and earlier in the day I had come across a very nice pair of Oakley sunglasses. A hijinx which is the same style that my 20 year old son wears. I secretly put them in the bottom of the box in the corner to wait for a special young person to give them to. I told him that I had a very special pair of shades for him and that I had been waiting for someone I could give them to. I found them and handed them to him explaining that my son wears this style and they are in very new condition. He felt as happy and special as I hoped he would. We had an extra special moment when I also pulled out my digital camera to show a photo of my son wearing the very same Oakley. These are the special moments we are all grateful for.
May 20, 2012
Yesterday was our first free day here in The Gambia. We visited Makasutu which means sacred forest in Mandinka. It is a cultural forest and a very popular Eco tourist destination. Many indigenous people still live there. We were taken on a walking tour of the forest as well as a quick boat ride down the Makasutu River. Our guides Oma and Benedict were amazing. Benedict told us about the local 'jungle juice' or locally known as palm wine. We happily took samples. They showed us how to climb the palm trees. Paul showed us all how it's done. The Baboons in the forest gave us quite a show. We could have stayed and watched them for hours. Scott had a moment of connection with a baboon who was not happy with the way he was eyeing his girl. The lunch was an incredible mix of fish, rice, vegetables and fresh juice. After lunch the local women danced while the young men played the bongos. Of course after watching them dance we were invited up to join them and the team was happy to move a little after a great lunch. The cooks here feel if you do not eat all the food that you did not like it and of course we don't want to offend so we needed to move a bit. It was a really nice way to start our weekend, as a group out in nature, learning more about the culture and the Gambian history and it amazing people.
Our Sunday was a completely free day. Some team members went golfing. Some went shopping in the local markets to bring home a piece of Gambia for themselves and of course their friends and family. Some stayed by the pool and just took a day to decompress and enjoy the African sun. Myself (Lisa) Alexandra, Edith and Claire went bird watching with our Guide Babucarr Sanyang. He is a tour guide but also a bird watcher for the last 10 years. He took us to Lamin Lodge which was on the Lamin River. Lamin Lodge was one of the last slave trading posts here in Africa. During our trip we went inland from the river to walk around the farmlands and saw what and how they grow fruits and vegetables. We saw the boat that was capsized from Gilligans Island and the Titanic. Alix is our birder on the team who left at the end of the day very satisfied she was able to see 40-50 birds and most important see 5 different varieties of the Kingfisher bird. Another amazing day here in West Africa. What an absolutely incredible opportunity missions for OneSight allow us to experience. Thanks OneSight.
May 18, 2012
At the end of clinic today it was all about celebrating a great first week and telling OneSight stories, these are a few of those stories
In dispense today Sandro and Brenda were able to use their creativity and resourcefulness to help a 3 year old little boy named Musa see the beautiful country of The Gambia. He was a very small for 3 so small that the temples on the chabella frame were much too long for him. Our tool selection here at clinic is very minimal and we do not have cutters to trim and make temples shorter, but they were determined to make it work for Musa. They had to 'McGyver' it as Sandro puts it and he walked away from today's experience with a CUSTOM FIT and a cute smile.
Bruce told us a story about a 18 year old boy named Babuku that expressed his love for all the team members from OneSight today for helping him and his fellow Gambians see better. He has a broken foot and all the hospital was able to do for him was give him a bandage. This is making him very upset because he loves to play football(soccer) and now understands that he will not be able to play professional football but he will be able to see better at school and now focus on doing better in school and getting into the university.
Nehal as well as many other girls on our team have had marriage proposals while at the clinic site. During clinic today Dr. Nehal helped a 4 yr old little boy named Debasse whos vision was so bad that all he could see was the difference between light and dark. His mother explained that anytime someone turns on a light or turns off a light he knows but that is as far as his ability to see goes. He is a very smart boy and his english for a 4 yr old is really good. His mother carried him around from station to station and into his exam as well. His vision was so poor that it is not fully correctable. He was so sweet that she wanted to try to find a way for him to have some increase in quality of sight and in life. He also was very clear that he wanted 'specs' which is what he kept saying over and over to her. She was using the trial lenses and when she placed the +2.00 power lenses in front of his eyes he said "TUOBOB" which is what the children here in The Gambia call white people. This told Dr. Nehal that he in fact was able to see more than just if there were lights on or off She wrote a prescription and went with him to dispense to select the glasses. They were able to make chabellas for him and when he put on his glasses and looked at Dr Nehal he hugged her then told her he would like to marry her. This is why we do this! To create memories for us and for them.
Tonight was a night of 'home'coming and celebration. We finished two great weeks of clinic. One in Brikama and another in Basse. We have been conducting two clinics this first week here in The Gambia. We have a team of five who have been working very hard in Basse helping people see as well. Basse is about 4 hours away on the Gambian River. They have not had the working conditions or living conditions that most of the team has had the joy of experiencing at the Kairaba Hotel. We are so pleased to welcome them and look forward to working along side them as well as our students next week. We will all be working very hard to teach and train them so that they may continue to help the people of The Gambia see.
May 17, 2012
Each day our leadership team places us at a different station so that we have a chance to experience each and every task in the process of the clinic. Today my station was visual acuity where the eye chart is used. Brikina was a 5 year old girl who was having some difficulty understanding because she is so young. Our local volunteer Matar wanted to move on and skip doing acuities on her but I had a feeling that with patience she could do it. After a lot of back and forth between Edith and I and Matar we finally got him to agree to step back and let us try. He felt that it was taking too much time and that we did not have so much time to spend on one person. We finally got him to understand that a few extra minutes is worth changing this little girls life by helping her see. If we found that she needed glasses it would be a whole new world for her. We use the eye chart that has only the E but in different directions and decided to use the UP and DOWN only to make it more simple for her. She was able to read all the way to the 20/20 line of the chart. When she completed the test all 3 of us were so happy that we took our time and let her succeed.
The Biggest Smile
After seeing many patients today, there was one woman that really stood out to me. She slowly made her way into the doctor's room, using her hands to reach out so that she wouldn't bump into anything or anyone. I quickly glanced at her auto refraction, which gives the doctor an idea of what a patient's prescription is, and instantly I knew why she moved so cautiously. She had a very high prescription because she had cataract surgery but no replacement lens was placed back into her eye. This woman couldn't see anything at all. As soon as I placed her much needed prescription on her face, she lit up with the biggest smile I've ever seen! She began moving around the room so fast that I couldn't keep up with her.
Virginia Beach, VA
What an experience! The people of Gambia are wonderful. They are so polite and understanding. For the people who need it, we are making customized, new glasses...new vision allows the people to have a bright future. Our team is from six different countries...a global effort to help the world see better.
Aujourd hui, j ai passé la journée a l autorefracteur et j ai étè marqué par un petit garçon de 3ans. Il avait déjà des yeux très pour son jeune age. Donc, il passa a l autorefracteur, monta sur les genoux de sa maman et nous avons passé au moins 15 minutes avant d arriver à prendre son defaut de vision car impossible pour CE petit garçon d ouvrir les yeux assez grand. Nous nous y sommes mis a 3 un qui lui tenait la paupiere du haut, l autre la paupiere du bas et le troisieme prenait la refraction. Ca sera l évènement qui aura marqué ma journée aujourd hui. Je suis tres touchée de voir autant d enfant de petit age qui ont des problemes visuels. Il n y en avait pas autant dans les autres missions que j ai faites.
May 17, 2012
My favorite patient of the day was a young man named Matarr. He is a junior in high school and very much enjoys school and learning but seeing has been very difficult for him. He loves to study and we shared our love of reading. We picked out a really great Oakley frame that will be very durable and serve him hopefully for many years. His happiness at the moment he was able to pick out his glasses and realize that soon he would be able to see comfortably and be able to truly relax and enjoy his reading time was today's warm fuzzy moment for myself, Edith and Claire.
Fatoumatte is a 5 year old girl who touched a lot of hearts today. She came to clinic with her mother today wearing a very beautiful kaftan that looked like a very tiny cream colored wedding dress. She was incredibly shy and quiet and had a difficult time with doing the auto refractor. We were told that about a year ago she had yellow fever and that since then she had been complaining of not being able to see and alot of discomfort with her eyes. Her mother was there for an exam as well and so Alix asked her Mom if she could go first so that she could see that it would not hurt her thinking that she was afraid. Mom explained that she was not afraid but that she was unable to see. This was very powerful for Alix as she has daughters and the realization that this young girl is going to experience a life changing moment when she is able to see and enjoy being a little girl again and OneSight did this for her.
During the afternoon of our second day of clinic here in The Gambia the team was able to enjoy a celebration that included the Governer as well as the Minister of Health. There was a 'band' that included the most unusual tone of the clapping of the hands it created a very unique noise, an empty plastic gas can that was being beat upon using a stick and a whistle. There were local women dressed in brilliant colors dancing. It was a fantastic display of color and the energy was amazing. This was definitely a once in a lifetime moment that our OneSight leaders made absolutely sure we took a moment to enjoy.
Deuxieme journee de clinique avec notre fabuleuse equipe en Gambie! Aujourd'hui, j'etais assignee a la station de la livraison et j'ai fait la rencontre de plusieurs personnes exceptionnelles. Bien qu'ayant participe a plusieurs mission avec OneSight, c'est la 1ere fois que nous ne donnons pas des lunettes recyclees, mais bien de nouvelles lunettes en parfaite condition faites sur mesure pour chaque patient. Une toute nouvelle experience pour notre equipe et une nouvelle facon de penser la clinique: qualite au lieu de quantite. Bravo OneSight! Nous nous assurons alors que les patients seront les heureux proprietaires de lunettes faites avec leur prescription au laboratoire ici en Gambie. Nous avons vu environ 130 patients en tout et chacun a leur maniere ont contribue au succes de la journee! Une journee haute en couleurs, en danse et en musique! Un grand pas vers la clinique visuelle permanente en Gambie et une experience incroyable!
May 15, 2012
Hello family and friends! The Gambia has been proven to be filled with heat, humidity, wonderful patients, and great teammates! We had a hiccup of loss of electricity that we conquered with a smile. One very heart warming story: we had a multiple team member assist! In one of the initial steps of clinic, patients pass through an auto refractor that determines a preliminary prescription. Sometimes the findings are a little wonky...Lisa came to me and said that she had a young man, and she had tried several times to get a reading, the machine said (over sph). The young man had no apparent pathology. She asked if I could check. I did a really "old school" reading and then a refraction and found out that this young guy was a -15. Now for those of you less optically trained, I am a -5 and feel totally blind. I never would have seen a board in school, played a sport, probably even had many friends if I had been half as blind! Due to Lisa's diligence and trying the very best for the patient this young man would be leaving an unimaginable future. We can't be thankful enough for our lucky station in life, for all the good deeds that these wonderful people are doing for the people of Gambia, and finally our families for making all of this possible. Without you our family and friends we could not be here! We love you and your sacrifices are the spark and fuel that is helping so many!
We love you all, we miss you terribly, we are all safe, and most importantly, we will be home soon! Dr Abby says Hi!
May 15, 2012
Our goal here in The Gambia is to grow Eyecare capabilities from 1 clinic to many Eyecare clinics in many different countries. This first week is all about getting the flow of clinic to be a comfortable pace but also learning how to slow things down. Many of us are clinic alumni and up until now have only been on missions where we were seeing anywhere from 8,000 to 25,000 patients in a two week period. Having to switch gears is tricky but when you think about how much time that allows you to really connect with the people it makes it a lot easier.
One of the first questions that people ask you here after you say hello is 'How do you like The Gambia?' and they really want to know. One of our final recipients of the day was waiting his turn and I had noticed that I had seen his name many times throughout the day. I mentioned this to him and he laughed then explained to me that it is a Mandinka tradition here to name your first born male child Lamin.
Something we have noticed right away is that there is a huge cultural difference in the way men and women interact. Luckily most of the women on our team have significant others in their lives that cherish, appreciate and take care of them. The women here do most of the chores, most likely all of the child care and it's just their way. Today at least one Gambian woman found out what it's like to have a man serve her. Paul Case was talking to one of our local volunteers who had been at registration all morning. She is expecting a child and he noticed that she looked as if she did not feel well. He went to get a bottle of water for her and when he returned she was so appreciative that she told him she will name her baby after him. This shows you just how meaningful the smallest gesture from one person can be to a new found friend.
We did not see many children today but we did have a six year old girl named Ramatoulie come through clinic with her mother Genoba. The little girl had very red, very watery, very sore eyes. After originally thinking it was trachoma a common eye health issue here the doctors spoke with one of the local SightSavers international doctors to find out it was a viral infection. Genoba was very pleased to have our help in healing her daughter. They have had a week of endless nights with no sleep because Ramatoulie has been so miserable that she has been crying and unable to sleep. Some things are totally universal. If your child is unhappy and unable to sleep then Mom most likely feels the same. We invited them back next week so we can follow up and make sure that she is doing well.
May 15, 2012
Today has been a looooong day. We all began our day of travel early Sunday morning and will arrive in The Gambia Monday night. We spent 4 hours in the Newark airport finding and then getting to know each other before our 7 hour flight to Brussels, Belgium, where we had another 6 hours to spend together and are also waiting anxiously to meet our European team members before the last leg of our journey. Team members spent their time shopping for Belgium chocolates and other souvenirs to bring home to friends and family. Tim Green was able to fill us in on some of the details of Clinic life in The Gambia as he was part of the first team to visit The Gambia in June of 2011. We also enjoyed Belgium chocolates that truly melted in your mouth courtesy of Bruce Neumann and of course we had to sample the Belgium beer. Good times can always be expected when traveling with OneSight teams and this trip is starting out very good and we have only just begun.
The reward of course after this very long day of flying and waiting and then more flying and waiting ...will be getting to do what we enjoy most.....hopefully getting a good nights sleep and then up early to begin The Gambia clinic and start helping the people of Gambia see as well as become self sufficient and sustainable in vision care.
May 11, 2012
Our team of Luxottica employees will soon be meeting in The Gambia for two weeks. We will be providing free exams and eyewear to help them see the beautiful world around them more clearly. We are very excited to be taking part in this particular mission as it is part of a new frontier for OneSight. This is OneSights second visit to The Gambia and we are working closely with the locals and our partners SightSavers International to establish an Eyecare clinic and train the locals to become self-sustaining in diagnosing and treating eye diseases as well as prescribing and fabricating eyeglasses in their new facility. Our goal is to provide eye exams and NEW glasses to 1500 patients. We would love for you to join us.
We will be sharing our stories and posting pictures so be sure to log on daily so you don't miss a minute of the excitement. If you are interested our team is also raising money to help fund our clinic. Make your donation to our team today
About the Clinic
2012 The Gambia Clinic Blog Clinic
A team of OneSight volunteers and doctors will provide free vision care and eyewear to those in need.