Clinic Blog: 2011 India 4 Clinic Blog
November 17, 2011
A typical patient will make it through many stops during their time at a OneSight Clinic. From registration to visual acuity, dilation to auto refraction, ocular health to prescription writing, their final stop is at the dispensing table. And while the clinic team has made connections to the many patients passing through during this journey, their last contact with us is generally at the dispensing table. It is our last chance to make sure we have selected the correct glasses for them and instructed them how to use them properly. If we fail at that, we can't guarantee that their experience has been life changing. Of course, there are many obstacles to ensuring our patients can see, the most difficult being the language barrier. Even with this obstacle, the humanity inside of all of us is able to still reach out to the person we are dispensing to.
An amazing example of the connection made during dispensing comes today from Cindy Borges, Regional Manager for Sunglass Hut in Charlotte, North Carolina. Cindy was able to dispense Konapreea's glasses to her today. Konapreea lives in Priparli, and, at 65 years old, has been without glasses for about 15 years. She has a very high prescription, and, without her glasses, she was not able to continue her job as a seamstress. Thankfully, our team was able to find a good pair of glasses for Konapreea. When she first approached the dispensing table, she was very subdued and shy. Cindy immediately beamed her signature smile at Konapreea and greeting her in the typical Hindi greeting “Namaste!” Konapreea opened up like a flower, beaming back at Cindy. When Cindy put Konapreea's glasses on her, it was if her world went from black and white to color. Cindy showed her how to use the bifocal lenses that would work for both her sewing and for distance. Konapreea was so thankful to have her vision back she dropped to the ground and starting touching Cindy's legs and feet. We found out later that Konapreea was actually blessing Cindy for the help she had given her. What an amazing experience!
At the dispensing table, we are truly able to see the change that happens in our patients' lives when they are able to have their vision restored. The amazing part is the change they also make in our lives for allowing us to serve them. We are truly blessed. We were able to see 1,526 patients today in Priparli. Tomorrow marks the final day of our India clinic, and we are going in with a goal to finish our two weeks here at 10,000 patients total! It should be an exciting day, so check back for more stories!
November 16, 2011
From the Maharaja of Rajasthan to the Lord of Jasol, our clinic last week saw many of Jasol's "city folks". It was a complete honor to be able to help so many there last week. Our clinic this week is a completely different change of pace. Priparli is a tiny grouping (you really can't call it a town) of huts with thatched roofs, dirt roads, and farms. Our typical clients are farmers, shepherds, and field workers. Because of the remote location of Priparli, the residents have had little to no access to health and eye care. This is OneSight's first clinic here.
At first, we thought this clinic to be more slowly paced than last week's. We had no idea of the phenomenal response we would get. Yesterday and today, we saw over 2,400 people total. People from the surrounding villages were being brought in by trailers attached to farm tractors to visit the clinic. Even though the patients here are only 60 kilometers from our patients last week, the overall personalities are completely different. While our last clinic patients were boisterous and animated, our patients this week are more introverted and quiet. Perhaps it is due to the fact that a clinic such as ours is completely foreign to them.
Today, Dr. Jeff Giesert, Optometrist from the LensCrafters in Lincoln, Nebraska, saw a tiny 4-year-old girl named Rishi that was panicked from the minute she entered clinic. She cried the entire time, regardless of the amount of candy, stickers, and treats we offered her. When we finally got her in to see Dr. Jeff, he immediately discovered that she had Grade 4 Cataracts. At 4 years old, the odds of having Grade 4 Cataracts are 1 in about 1 million. Rishi most likely had been born with them and has therefore spent the entire first four years of her life with low vision. She was so scared of coming to clinic because she had never really left her home village and was in an environment where there were foreign sounds, voices, and smells that she couldn't see with her eyes. Luckily, OneSight has a team of doctors from a local Indian hospital that will have Rishi at the top of their priority list for a cataract surgery. Without coming to the OneSight clinic, Rishi may have spent her entire life in blindness.
We also had the privilege of working with Mohinder. Mohinder came to clinic with crossed eyes that he developed from having uncorrected vision for so long. Dr. Ali worked with him to find the perfect pair of glasses that would correct his vision and help retrain his eye muscles so that he could see. Tani Thomas, from the Luxottica Corporate Office, had the pleasure of dispensing Mohinder's glasses. When she first put them on, Mohinder's eyes had no reaction. Then, slowly over a few minutes, his left eye drifted to the center of the lens. Mohinder could see! He was ecstatic!
We have two more days left in the village of Priparli and we are very excited to see what stories they will bring!
November 15, 2011
Lines can be frustrating. Whether you're in a hurry at the grocery store, sitting in a traffic jam, or standing in line for a turn on a roller coaster, no one likes lines. Imagine, now, that you have already traveled a great distance, a few hundred kilometers by foot, camel, or community bus. The line you enter is a few hundred people long and when you are standing at the end of it, you can't see the beginning. The sun is beating down on you and it is over 90 degrees outside. Water is scarce, and your thirst is immense.
Sounds intense, right? Our patient Sarwan did just that. At 70 years old, he has never had a pair of glasses in his life and has never seen his family clearly. He had heard of our clinic from a friend of a friend and begged, bartered, and plead for a ride to Jasol from his home a few villages away. His wait was over two hours in the hot sun until we were able to see him, but two hours seemed trivial to him compared to the hope he had of leaving the clinic seeing clearly for the first time. The moment we put the glasses on his face Sarwan starting crying. He went around the dispensing area and thanked everyone over and over again because he could see! In a moment of awe, he exited clinic and as he looked out over the fields of his home land, he threw his hands over his head in thankfulness. It was an incredible view.
We were able to help over 5,241 people during our week in Jasol. The hospitality and kindness of the people from the village was unbelievable. Our team was honored to be a part of a “gratitude ceremony” conducted by the Lord of Jasol where the men were gifted with turbans and the women with white wraps. The week was exhausting and amazing at once, and it was such a privilege to be able to restore our patients' right to sight.
This week we are holding our clinic in another nearby city, Priparli. Keep reading for more stories!
**Also, for those interested in contributing to our cause, please visit https://onesight.donordrive.org and select India Clinic
November 11, 2011
“Look here, can you see the letters?” “Keep your eyes straight ahead.” “Please line up here.” Sometimes, when clinics get hectic, we can forget about the reason why we are here while trying to make sure we maintain clinic flow. Until dispense. Dispense is the moment that all language barriers fall, the moment that every clinic team member wants to be a part of and never forgets.
Our team was able to make a big difference in the life of 8-year old Nazia yesterday. Dr. Ali Hussen, Optometrist from the Calgary LensCrafters worked with Dr. Nishi Mehdiratta, Optomestrist from the San Diego LensCrafters to prescribe the perfect pair of glasses for Nazia. Nazia was born with a condition called esotropia (cross-eyed). Because of the lack of muscle control combined with her high perscription, she had never been able to see clearly. Her mother brought her to the clinic from over 110 kms away to try to help her daughter see. Drs. Ali and Nishi were able to work with the Chabella assembly team to get the perfect pair of glasses to correct Nazia's vision. Dispensing leader Michael Curtis, Sears Optical Manager in Denver, Colorado, made sure Nazia had the perfect fit. There are no words to adequately describe the look on Nazia's face as she saw her world clearly for the first time. She left clinic beaming ear to ear!
Our team would also like to give special recognition to Patrick Schiffrena, from the Luxottica France team. He is one of our clinic coordinators and this is his third mission. Patrick has been a huge suuport to the clinic team members, helping us as issues arise and crises erupt. We are extremely lucky to have him as one of our leaders.
We saw 1,598 patients yesterday on a goal 1,400. Today is our last day in Jasol, as our clinic will be moving to a different location next week. Again, thank you for coming with us on our journey-we will talk to you soon!
November 10, 2011
By dwilliamsNamaste! Even with the language barrier this simple phrase used as a greeting is an easy way for us to communicate with our clinic patients. Luckily, we have an amazing assortment of local students to help us translate everything else. Today at clinic, we started at about 10:30am local time and had a non-stop flow of patients until 5:00pm. It was an extremely busy day, but taking the time to greet the patients in words that they are familiar with helped us to make connection with them and provide them with a personal experience., leaving us with names and faces we will never forget.
We would like to take the time this posting to introduce our clinic leaders. They are the ones who have organized this clinic from the beginning, and keep it flowing every day. We couldn't do it without them!
David Berumen is a project manager for OneSight. He had been leading clinics for ten years, and has been on so many clinics he doesn't even know the exact number. His favorite part of clinic is working with a constant flow of different people-from the clinic team members to the patients-and seeing all of the lives that are impacted. During times of crisis and confusion, David keeps it all together so that we can help as many people as possible.
Kelly Danislavs is a clinic coordinator for OneSight and a Regional General Manager for LensCrafters in the Cincinnati market. She has been with Luxottica for 17 years and this is her fourteenth international mission. Her most memorable clinic experience was the children of Ghana, one of the poorest areas that OneSight travels to. Even though they had such a true need, not knowing where their next meal was coming from or if they would have clean water that day, they still had a passion for life and a happiness that was unmatchable.
Mona Darbonne is an inventory manager for OneSight and a General Manager for LensCrafters in Houston, Texas. This is Mona's seventh international clinic, and she is a tested and proven problem solver. In Laos, all of the clinic computers were seized by customs and the inventory didn't arrive until six days after the start of clinic. When the inventory finally arrived, Mona's team had to go back and hand pick all of the previous clinic patient's glasses and deliver them to them. It required a huge amount of teamwork and some fast-learned resource management, but the team was able to get all 10,000 patients their glasses.
Dr. Randy Edwards is the lead doctor for our clinic and a Managing Doctor of Optometry in Chico, California. He has been with Luxottica for six years, and this is his sixth mission. Dr. Edwards is responsible for organizing the doctor services on the clinic, and ensuring that each patient receives the best care possible. On his first mission in Honduras, he met a 15-year-old girl who was a -15.00 in each eye. She had never seen her mother and father's faces clearly until receiving her first pair of glasses from OneSight.
Mark Lyons is our photography director for our mission. This mission is Mark's 35th international mission. He is the one who truly gets to capture the life changes that happen at a OneSight clinic through photos It is because of Mark that OneSight has beautiful images to tell our stories and share our mission with the world. All OneSight photos on the website were taken by Mark. Check out his website at www.lyonsphotopgraphy.com.
Jason Singh, the new Director of OneSight, joined us yesterday for the remainder of the week. He has been with Luxottica since September. Prior to that, he was a practicing optometrist in the Cincinnati area until moving to South Africa for two years where he worked with the Bophelong Community Center in Mamelodi (a post-Apartheid township) developing an eye and dental care clinic for the surrounding communities. He also helped coordinate a OneSight mission there in 2010. Our team is incredibly excited to work with him over the next couple of days.
Back to today-we had an extremely successful clinic and we were able to exceed our goal 1200, helping 1474 people total. We are now on our way to clinic day #3 and this blog is being composed on a VERY bumpy bus ride-apologies for any typos! Talk to you all soon!
November 9, 2011
Anticipation was in the air as we completed our two hour bus ride this morning and pulled up to our clinic site in Jasol. Hundreds of people were gathered outside waiting for our arrival. As we exited the bus, we were thanked over and over again from people whose eyes were filled with hope. While entering the gates, the clinic volunteers greeted us with marigold chains around our necks and the ceremonial bindi on our foreheads. The welcome was phenomenal and moving. We settled in to the clinic site as the school children sang their daily prayers to the god of education.
Our clinic is being held in a school house that has been converted into registration, pre-testing, doctor exam lanes, IMS (for managing and dispensing donated glasses), Chabella assembly, and dispense. It took us a while to get all of our equipment and supplies ready and to get a good clinic flow going, but we managed to make it through our day with flying colors.
The feature story of the day comes from our team member Charlene Chang, a senior store manager from Sunglass Hut in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She worked today in the dispensing area and had the opportunity to meet Parjita Singh, an woman who had traveled many miles from a neighboring community to come to clinic. She had never had glasses and looked really uncertain about getting glasses. The moment Charlene dispensed Parjita's glasses, her face broke into a huge smile and tears came to her eyes. She could finally see clearly. She was so excited she immediately grabbed Charlene's hands to show her thankfulness and made a lasting impression on everyone witnessing the event.
Parjita was 1 of 857 people we were able to see today. Everyone left clinic with at least a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes from the harsh Indian desert sun, and most left with a pair of prescription clear glasses as well. We exceeded our goal today of 800 people helped, and are looking forward to a busy day tomorrow with a goal of 1200!
November 8, 2011
Yesterday, our team learned about a little thing the locals call IST, or India Standard Time. Basically, it meant that our 10:30am bus ride to the New Delhi airport to make our 2pm flight to Jodhpur didn't happen until 12:30pm. After arriving at the plane gate right before it closed (and leaving our team member Ali behind briefly due to a ticketing issue), we made it to Jodhpur.
For those of you that don't know, we are staying at the Water Habitat Retreat in Jodhpur. The grounds and buildings are absolutely breathtaking and everything seemed completely surreal. Our travel-weary team settled into the dining hall for orientation, unsure of what to expect.
Orientation began with a video clip of the history of the area we are holding clinic in and the location where we were residing for our trip. The Water Habitat Retreat is not just a beautiful building. It is actually a water harvesting hub for the Marwar Desert Area of India (where Jodhpur is located). The Marwar is also known as "the land of death". Residents see little to no rain annually. Women spend over half of their day collecting water, and children are forced to help which leaves no time for education. The video clip showed various photos of the residents that we will be helping on our mission and the extreme conditions that they live in. We saw young children scooping filthy water with their hands into a collection bucket and women drawing water from a well that is nearly empty. Thankfully, the Water Habitat Retreat and their ingenious method of collecting and filtering water is helping to alleviate the stress of living a life with no water for many. Check out their website at http://waterhabitatretreat.org.
Until seeing the faces of the residents we will be helping give the gift of sight to, our journey has consisted of hotel mixups, bus delays, and long, tiring flights. The video of the work that the Water Habitat Retreat is doing to help Jodhpur's residents really put into perspective the mission that we are here to accomplish and helped ready our hearts to meet the people of Jodhpur. Our first mission day is tomorrow, so tune back in for some stories-there are sure to be many!
November 6, 2011
Welcome to India! That's the greeting the OneSight team received when we entered the Indian immigration terminal at the Indira Ghandi International Airport in New Delhi from the series of hands protruding from the wall. The hands show different mudras (hand positions) used in traditional Indian dance, and it welcomes visitors into the country. There is one in particular called the abhaya mudra, or the "fearless gesture", which is an open hand with fingers slightly bent. It looks as if the hand is trying to reach out, symbolizing the importance of connecting to our fellow man with an open-hearted, fearless mind. It is simply beautiful.
As for our journey thus far, we have made it through our 13 long hours of flying into New Delhi, arriving at approximately 8:30pm local time. Nothing could prepare us for the world on the other side of the terminal. Upon leaving, we were immediately surrounded by a fog that we were told surrounds the city most of the time. The airport was alive with throngs of hundreds of eager people holding signs, looking for family members, or waiting to see the face of a long-time friend coming for a visit. The energy was like electricity in the air-you could feel it.
Our flight was followed by an hour-long bus ride to our hotel. If anything was immediately apparent, it was that New York City cab drivers have nothing on the ones in India. Three clearly designated lanes quickly became six, and traffic was survival of the biggest and fastest. Even at 10pm local time, we were in rush hour. It was a fast-paced thrill ride as our driver cut off smaller cars and turned on a dime as if we were in the Indy 500.
Luckily, we made it safely to our hotel last night. After a few room mixups, and a few people having to share beds (no better way to become fast friends! :) ) we all got a decent night of sleep. Today marks the second leg of our journey to Jodhpur, where we will be based out of for our clinic.
In the words of Jack Kirouac, "Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life." Talk to you all soon!
November 2, 2011
...at least for the members of our 2011 OneSight India Clinic Team! After 10 months of preparation and anticipation, we are only 3 short days away from our journey to Jodhpur, India, to help give the gift of sight, one person and one pair of glasses at a time.
OneSight is a family of charitable programs dedicated to improving vision through outreach, research and education. Sponsored by Luxottica, OneSight programs have helped more than 8 million people world-wide over it's 20-year history. This year, we have 15 clinics planned around the world. For more information, check out www.onesight.org.
We would like to invite you to come with us along the way through our clinic blog. Here is where you can meet our team, hear our stories, and share our experiences. Please feel free to make comments, ask questions, and leave notes of encouragement! We will be updating the blog as often as possible, so don't miss a minute of the excitement and check back daily! We can't wait to share our journey with you!
About the Clinic
2011 India 4 Clinic Blog Clinic
A team of 40 trained volunteers and doctors from around the world will come together to provide much needed vision care and eyewear to the people of India.