Clinic Blog: 2011 South Africa 2 Clinic Blog
October 28, 2011
May Thomas Sunglass Hut, Honolulu, Hawaii
On this beautiful and sunny, humid day in South Africa our team departs . We came together as strangers from distant lands but we depart as members of a closely knit family called OneSight. How blessed we are to have met each other, to have worked together. We shared so much laughter and tears one would think we have all known each other forever.
I can’t describe to you what this experience meant to us. You had to be there. This has been one of the easiest teams to organize just because every single one of us had that same energized commitment to serve the people of South Africa to the best of our abilities. Never mind the weather. We experienced it all. The wind came about the first days and blew a blanket of dust and sand on every surface imaginable. Then the hot sun beat down on us causing beads of sweat to run down, creating moist spots on our turquoise team shirts. The last days of clinic brought thick, gray clouds, rain and lots and lots of mud. Shuttling patients back and forth proved to be a challenge to some.
I have to admit that when I heard we were going to be on three clinic sites, I was skeptical on my abilities to help mobilize the moves. What a relief it was see it was simpler than I anticipated. With the direction of Leona and the rest of the leadership team, it was a piece of cake. Every move was effortless because we did it as a team. It was like an organized hurricane had blown through and suddenly the work was done. There was never a challenging situation we could not overcome together. Truly amazing.
To all my new family members (South Africa Onesight teammates) and our clinic partners, THANK YOU for making these two weeks such an awesome experience for me.
To the members of our Peace Corps volunteers and Rachel (who spent part of her vacation working with us)…THANK YOU.
A special thank you to Leona who had the utmost trust in this leadership team and filled our days with encouragement and love.
OK guys. It’s “See you later!” We will cross paths somewhere soon.
October 28, 2011
Dr. Adam Hill, LensCrafters, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Like all the other team members, I’ve been trying to learn a few words of the Zulu language to help around the clinic. I’ve probably got a dozen words and phrases in my head, everything from “please” and “thanks” to “come with me” and “look over there”. Today I was without a translator while working in the angles station – taking a quick look at each patient’s eyes to ensure that it’s safe for them to have the dilating drops. This one patient, a Zulu man in his mid-50s, had obvious damage to one eye from a past injury, so I was taking a closer look at that eye. After fumbling through a couple iterations of the Zulu equivalents of “look at me”, “look over here”, and so on, the man turned to me, shook his head no, and said in flawless English: “That eye is f***ed up.”
That’s certainly one way of learning which patients speak English!
Steve Losey LensCrafters, Buffalo, New York
First and foremost, my wedding anniversary was yesterday and I missed it. Not because I forgot but because I have a loving and caring wife who supports my passion for Onesight. She gave up our special time together so that I could be here to deliver eyecare to those who need it most. And I just wanted to let her know that we will celebrate when I get back because I don’t need a special day to remind me how much I love her.
Secondly, this is an encounter with a family that I wanted to share. An older woman was getting her glasses dispensed and I was standing with her adult daughter. Her daughter just stood there and with a translator’s help kept saying that this was a waste of time because her mother can’t see. I remember saying ‘ Just wait and see” She then continued to insist it was a waste of time. Well guess what, she could see! The old woman was laughing and the daughter was smiling. What a great day!
Karen Hall OPSM, Sydney, Australia
We have seen over 1500 people in the past two and a half days providing eye care to the poor communities. The Zulu people are proud and majestic people and it is the elderly that tug at my heart. I love the vibrant colours they wear especially their headwear.
On the way to the clinic this morning we saw two giraffes and two rhinos. Yesterday we saw numerous groups ofnzebra and the highlight was the baby zebra feeding. We have seen 3 elephants, water buffalos and warthogs. I think the silhouette of an elephant at dusk is amazing.
South Africa is a beautiful country...
October 24, 2011
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.
October 24, 2011
In every clinic, there is that one patient that most of the team gets to know usually because of their condition. And the team experienced one such patient.
Tom Wible Sunglass Hut, Mason, OH
While auto refracting patients, I remember testing one in particular that was one of the highest perscriptions I saw during the day. I couldn’t get a reading in his right eye due to a severe cataract and the reading in his left eye was +13.25. With readings like that, I knew he had to have difficulties seeing. I put the print out from the AR on his form, gave him a smile and sent him to the next station where he would see a doctor. I didn't know if we could help him, but with a team like ours, I knew we would do everything we possibly could to help him.
Steve Losey, LensCrafters, Buffalo, New York
I met a man today. He was lifeless. As Ricardo Humphries walked the man towards me, I saw someone with no energy, no emotion, and no facial expressions. I gently supported him up the stairs wondering if we could do anything for this man. Awhile later, Dr. Tom came to my area and said a man wanted to thank me. As I walked to dispensing , I saw in the distance a man full of life, talking like a preacher on Sunday. It was the man who I walked with. It was like a lightswitch had been flipped on. He was full of life. My friend Ricardo said it best “ We did not just give this man the gift of sight today, we gave him HOPE.”
Dr. Adam Hill LensCrafters, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
I was glad that Steve walked him over to our table directly; the man’s vision was obviously very poor, but he seemed in fairly good spirits nevertheless. Through one of our translators, we learned that he’d had an accident many years prior and had needed eye surgery in both eyes. There had been some complications, leaving him with no vision in one eye and next to nothing in the other. I took a better look at his eyes, and determined that the true refraction should be closer to +11.00 in his left eye. Aside from the prescription, there didn’t appear to be any other reason he shouldn’t be able to see with some glasses. The computer system found several sets of glasses that would work for him, so I picked one and sent him off to the next station, with hopes of following up with him afterwards.
A few minutes later, there was a bit of a commotion at the dispensing area, and since there was no longer a queue at our prescription-writing station I went to check it out. I saw our patient standing there wearing a recycled set of glasses, gesturing and talking non-stop. We didn’t need a translator to realize he was pointing out everything he could now see!
Jacqui Smallwood Lenscrafters; Nashville, TN
What an amazing day! I was in dispense today and an older gentleman was picking up his glasses. He had had eye surgery in Johannesburg over 10 years ago. He was extremely near sighted (a +11.00). When I put his glasses on him he just lit up. He couldn’t stop talking and pointing outside. The translator said he was telling him everything he could see and how he couldn’t wait to get back to his village to see everyone. Even though I couldn’t understand his language, I could see in his eyes what a difference this was making and the joy he was feeling. It is so hard to put into words the intense emotions I was feeling. I was truly overwhelmed. Imagine not seeing for over 10 years and then one day with OneSight you can see. We have Onesight shirts that say life changer. Some may see this and think we are changing lives but I think not only do we help change their lives but our lives are changed in the process. It filled my heart with such joy to witness this. I will never forget this day or this man. Thank you OneSight for allowing me to be a part of this miracle.
One Patient. Four Associates lives touched forever. It's amazing what one person can do. And what we can do for one person.
October 24, 2011
Here in Mtubatuba, OneSight is partnering with Mpilonhle, an organization that is working to make strides in the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa. Michael Bennish and his wife, Christine lead Mpilonhle and their team have been instrumental in the success of the clinic. While at the clinic, Michael ran into a teenage girl outside of the clinic that just received a pair of glasses. Michael heard her story after talking to her. Gugu M is a student at Gwagueane School in Mtubatuba. She went to see the optometrist in town and it was determined that she needed glasses. However, the glasses were going to cost her family $1200 Rand ($180 US Dollars) and they simply could not afford them, so Gugu had to go without. At school, Gugu was referred to the clinic and was able to get the glasses that she needed so she could be successful in school. When she received her glasses, she couldn’t have been happier and she is excited to go back into the classroom. It’s amazing what power a pair of glasses hold for someone.
October 23, 2011
Clinic team members have been busy working with the people from Mtubatuba and have had 4 clinic days so far. Each team member has stories that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives. Here are more of those stories.
Teresa Benson, OneSight Accountant, Cincinnati, Ohio
Sawubona from Mtubatuba, South Africa! My favorite part of the clinic so far, has been interacting with the patients as they come through to see the doctors at the IMS station. I was nervous at first about using the few Zulu words that I knew. I’m sure I wasn’t pronouncing “sit here” correctly, because the patients would either be confused or giggle at me. However, there was a teenaged girl who came through the line that day, who greeted me in English. We had a short conversation, which really meant a lot to me and made me feel more at ease. As she walked away to see the doctors, it struck me that I needed to give that gift back to the patients: speaking to them in their own language. I can’t say very many words, but I’m trying. I asked a group of grade school students to teach me how to say “please.” The word in Zulu has a “click” in the middle of it, so it’s very different from English. My attempts apparently were totally wrong and hilarious…hopefully I didn’t actually say something offensive! It was fun to laugh with the kids. Thanks to my wonderful family and friends for their support as I’m here, half way around the world. I couldn’t do it without you! Lots of love, and I’ll see you soon!
Dipti Patel, Sunglass Hut, Solihull, England
Whilst in clinic on Friday on our second location, from the moment I saw the location it was the most emotional experience I have felt being here. It bought me to tears to think the children had to go to school in there conditions. The second emotional moment was when a little old lady came to me in dispense, reminded me off my grandmother who sadly passed away not long before I came to clinic. The hurt I feel especially for these children and what they go through every day brings me to tears. I feel so privileged to be here and thank the people of mtubatuba for sharing their lives with us for these two weeks.
Melanie Parkes, OPSM, New Zealand
I am so privileged and blessed to have had the opportunity to come to Mtubatuba with OneSight. The people of Zulu-Natal are truly amazing. The community is poor but so rich in culture and emotion it would be hard not to be moved by them. I have had the chance to be on dispense station 4 days and the stories I have to share are numerous. One lady stands out from Friday, she came to me stating in Zulu “I cannot see, I cannot see”, I then placed her new glasses on her, she started crying out again this time with a smile on her face. When I asked what she was saying my translator replied, she says “I can see, I can see” She was so happy she almost ran from the room to tell everyone before I could even give her a case for her new glasses. The amount of hugs and gratitude from the people is endless, the amazing volunteers we work with are tireless in what they do, I would be lost without them. I thank god that OneSight brought us all here. I will come home humbled and changed from this experience, with a whole new group of lifelong friends.
Dr. Brendan Philps, Australia
I’ve been practicing optometry now for almost 14 years. I’ve always been proud of what I do and have always believed that I can make an enormous difference in people’s lives. With OneSight it appears that I get the chance to make this difference continually throughout each and every day. Today was the 2nd day of my mission in Mtubatuba in South Africa and I must have seen at least 6 people with glaucoma today, who without treatment would have slowly gone blind without knowing, until it was too late. But today of all the people I had the honour of helping, one lady in particular stood out.
This lady was only 28 years old, healthy, and her only complaint was a recent deterioration in her reading vision. But when I looked into the back of her eyes, I saw that both of her optic nerve heads were extremely swollen and bleeding. This means that the pressure inside her head is a lot higher than normal which is likely caused by a brain tumour. She was not experiencing headaches, so it is very unlikely that this problem would have been detected if we were not here and I didn’t get the chance to examine her eyes. …..Today with OneSight, I probably saved this lady’s life by a simple eye test that I have done countless times over the past 14 years. An eye test that you and I take for granted and which in my country Australia is paid for by the government and is easily accessible at numerous optical outlets. This was a very emotional experience for me in such poor surroundings as it made me brutally aware that there are countless people like her in this world who will not be so lucky and receive the medical attention that you and I take for granted. I am not ashamed to say that I have tears running down my face as I recount this story for you Today was a truly amazing day in my life and one that I will never forget. Thank you, OneSight for giving me this opportunity.
October 23, 2011
Sunglasses come in all shapes and sizes. From the classic Aviator to the trendy cat-eye, there’s a pair to fit every mood and style. Sunglasses, more importantly, protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays from the sun. In the first 4 days of the Mtubatuba Clinic, doctors have been identifying occurrence of pterygium, which is a response to chronic dryness and ultra violet exposure that causes the breakdown of the collagen of the whites of the eyes. Typically, it is found in older adults (about 70 years of age), however, at the clinic, it has been identified in patients as young as 12 years old. Simple eye protection, like a pair of sunglasses, could help prevent this. Thanks to Michelle Carter, an OneSight employee from North America, OneSight Global Clinics now have a supply of sunglasses in children’s sizes. Prior to this, clinics had sunglasses for adults, but never for children. Now, school children who don’t need corrective eyewear are given a pair of sunglasses to help protect their eyes. On behalf of children around the world, the children of Mtubatuba have a special message for Michelle.
October 20, 2011
In the first three days of our South African Clinic, we've helped over 1500 patients! This is an amazing feat since our clinic location is in a more remote part of town and isn't the most accessable. However, the need is great. We've seen patients as young as 3 and as old as 92 and some that don't know their age. In the short time we've been here in Mtubatuba, every team member has stories to share about that one patient that touched their heart, made them smile or made them cry. Here are more of our stories.
Shreena Shah, Optometrist from London, UK.
Seeing the prescription of -11.00 dioptres in both eyes, I wondered how someone had coped with their life until now without the use of spectacles. With this prescription, one could only, see clearly without spectacles, up to a distance of 10cm only. Recognizing faces and getting an education would have been an enormous struggle. I only hoped that this person would be able to adapt to the spectacles and not reject them.
Because of the generous donations of used (and then refurbished) spectacles, we had an appropriate prescription to provide this person with. The reason why I am on a OneSight trip is to use the skills that I have as an optometrist, to make a real difference in someone else’s life -- and now I feel that I have. The feedback received, was that this person was extremely happy to be able to see with the spectacles and adapted well to them.
Steve Losey, Lab Manager from Buffalo, New York
What touched me the most today was meeting the Peace Corps volunteers. These young men and women commit 2 years of their lives and live with a host family individually. Gives me a new perspective into my 2 week commitment. My aches , pains, and homesickness are trivial compared to their sacrifice. Their families should be very proud of them. Thank you Peace Corps
Richard Nicholas, Optometrist from Virginia Beach, Virginia
Today I saw a young boy with tattered clothes and no shoes. He didn’t have much to call his own. Even though he did not require any prescription eyewear, he still benefited from a pair of sunglasses. I never saw a bigger smile on anyone before in my life when he put them on. You could tell it meant the world to him and that meant the world to me.
Ann Rice, General Manager LensCrafters , Glendale, Arizona
The long journey to Mtubatuba, South Africa seems so insignificant when you see how easily we can touch the lives of others and how impactful that connection is to us. The little boy who walked in with his class and was grinning ear to ear after seeing his image in a photo for the first time, The elderly woman who was barely 3 ft tall that couldn’t stand erect, but was so proud of the vision she received. I had the opportunity to dispense glasses to several people today and each one smiled with the excitement that they could see and read. These people came to clinic wearing their best, they were ready for a special occasion- it was special for us because they left touching our hearts.
Paula Edmondstone, Laubman & Pank, Australia
Hiya, it’s Paula Edmondstone in Mtubatuba, South Africa. We headed out to a regional school this morning and today I was lucky enough to be stationed at dispensing. I met the most amazing young boy and was able to dispense his glasses to him. He needed a minus 11 prescription and had never worn glasses before. When he put on his new glasses and looked around his eyes lit up. He was very shy, but you could see the excitement in his face. Check the gallery for his picture!
Christine Laughlin, Sunglass Hut, Tampa, Florida
Hey all, it’s Christine Laughlin, we have the most amazing trip into clinic and home each day. Without even going on the safari yet, we have seen elephants, giraffe, water buffalo, impala, baboon, spring boks, warthogs, and zebra right along the side of the road. It makes the hour long journey to our clinic site more like an hour and a half with all of us stopping to take pictures, but the trip only feels like 20 minutes because we are so excited to see all of the wildlife.
Dipti Patel, Sunglass Hut, London, England
Hi all, it Dipti from England in Mtubatuba experiencing my first OneSight clinic. There was a woman who came to my station at Quick Pick where we dispense ready reads and sunnies. She was unable to read her own name. Once I handed her her new glasses and gave something to read which had her name on it, she was extremely excited. She simply couldn’t stop smiling and laughing that she could finally read her own name. It was amazing how something so small could change someone’s life.
Christine and I also had the honored opportunity to help a mum who had a small baby with her. Not only were we able to give his mum the glasses she needed, but we also had some infant sized sunnies that we were able to fit on him. His mum was so happy that her baby son’s eyes would be protected from the sun that she told us that “we were stars”.
Susi Gobbi and Barbara De Mario, Luxottica, Italy
Ciao a tutti, stiamo vivendo intensamente questa missione in Mtubatuba ( Sud Africa) dove le parole non trovano il giusto senso per le emozioni che in ogni istante viviamo per ogni occhiale regalato.E’ incredibile come la gente cosi’ povera riesca a rendere ricca la ns. Vita! Passano ore ed ore in fila ad aspettare il loro turno senza mai lamentarsi cosi’ pure i bambini che per una caramella ti regalano un sorriso. In questi giorni siamo in piena missione, domani cambiamo luogo con la clinica per aiutare un’altra parte di popolo Sud Africano. La lidership e il Team e’ fantastico!!!! Siamo multinazionali nel gruppo ma parliamo una sola lingua: quella di ONE SIGHT !!!!!!! Ciao ITALIA da Susi Gobbi e Barbara DM.
Estelle Pires, Luxottica, Nice, France
SAWUBONA la France,
En direct de MTUBATUBA voici quelques nouvelles de cette clinique après 15 heures de vol, 3 avions et 1 heure de bus!!! L'équipe est formidable et en totale symbiose, nous sommes tous enthousiastes et content d'être là. Notre chef de mission Leona Dockeri, ainsi que l'équipe de supervision sont très touchés par l'énergie et la bonne humeur ambiante; nous somme motivés plus que jamais à donner le meilleur de nous même pour offrir des examens de la vue à ces populations, et chaque sourire et remerciement et un pur bonheur. Nous soignons essentiellement des enfants et des personnes âgées, étant donné que nous travaillons dans des écoles et des zones retirées.
Cette mission est vraiment différente puisque nous travaillons sur 3 sites différents: Fin de la première clinique ce soir dans une école rurale à plus d'1h30 de route de notre hôtel; nous voyagions chaque jour à travers la savane à la rencontre d'animaux sauvages (girafes, éléphants, zèbres, babouins,buffles,...)un vrai Safari quotidien!!!! Plus de 1500 patients ont bénéficié d'examens de la vue en à peine 2 jours et demi de travail. Demain, nous installons une nouvelle clinique dans une école à 45 minutes de route, et ce weekend , un peu de détente avec au programme, Safari, visite d'un village ZULU, shopping dans un marché artisanal, visite de Sainte Lucie et enfin si le temps nous est favorable, une beach party dans l'Océan Indien!!!!quel régal!!!!
Les Sud Africains, sont vraiment très sympathiques et généreux , et les partenaires avec qui nous travaillons au quotidien, nous choient comme leurs propres enfants.....un partage et une découverte culturelle vraiment terrible, et l'apprentissage du vocabulaire ZULU un grand moment de rigolade!!! Je passe une excellente mission et une nouvelles fois, j'encourage mes collaborateurs Français à s'inscrire eux aussi et de vivre cette formidable aventure au moins une fois dans leur vie.
C'est vraiment un moment fort et inoubliable à partager avec des une équipe Internationale ou chacun apporte de sa personne, un vraie fusion et un travail d'équipe vraiment impressionnant.
Promis, beaucoup de photos à l’appui dés mon retour et encore plus de choses à vous compter....
PS: Petit clin d’œil aux copines pour ce vrai moment de bonheur à la lecture de tous ces souvenirs, mais désolé j'ai enfreins la règle de "UNE HISTOIRE PAR SOIR", trop touchant et trop tentant!!!
C'était Estelle Pires en live pour One sight South Africa Blog!!!!
October 18, 2011
First time Global Team Member and Australian Optometrist Brendan Philp shares a special story from his first clinic day.
On only rare occasions in life you get the chance to change someones life in a profound manner. Today was the first day of my very first OneSight global clinic, and if today was anything to go by, I will be participating in many more in years to come. An elderly lady attended our clinic today who walked uneasily with the help of an old stick for a cane. She didn’t wear glasses but her eyes were almost closed as she was squinting so hard to try to see clearly. After testing her eyes she was found to have a script of +15.00D in each eye, which is a very high script indeed and one that I would only rarely see at home. Without glasses, she would find reading impossible, daily tasks extremely difficult and even would struggle to recognize the faces of loved ones. When she tried her glasses on for the first time her eyes almost popped out of her head as she realized how clearly she could see her hands that she was holding out in front of her. This was probably the first time that she had seen her surroundings clearly for 30 years and she was so excited that she began to dance. She left a new woman with a new independence that she would not have felt in years. After she left the clinic, I noticed that the old stick that she walked in was left at the door. This was only one of many stories that I could tell of today. Not a bad first day, can’t wait till tomorrow.
October 18, 2011
10 Countries of orgin, 9 different airlines, countless inflight movies, meals, beverages and only 1 lost bag. As they say, getting to your destination can be as fun as the destination itself. The South African Clinic Team came from far and near to give the gift of sight to the people of Mtubatuba. For some, it took days to get to Mtubatuba. For others, it was just a quick flight across the country. No matter how long it took, we were just excited to meet each other in person after 11 months of waiting.
North American team members all traveled and met in Washington DC before boarding their flight to Durban via Johannesburg. The South African team members met up with the North American team in Durban and joined them for the 2 hour van ride to Mtubatuba. New Zealand and Australia team members flew in early to Richards Bay as did the European team members. By midnight Sunday, the entire team was together at the hotel in Mtubatuba, tired, excited, and ready for the next two weeks!! Every step of the way, team members were sharing the work that OneSight does with their seatmates, fellow travelers, shop keepers, and, well, anyone who would listen.
We invite you to follow the team on this blog. You'll hear our stories, share our successes and learn more about OneSight's work. Feel free to leave comments and "shout outs" for team members--they'll appreciate it!
October 14, 2011
We are all very excited about this opportunity to show our passion and give the gift of sight to the people of Mtubatuba. As we finish up our packing and try and stuff that one last item that we can’t possibly live without for two weeks into our suitcases I thought I would provide you with some insight.
At some time or another we have all packed to jet off to a meeting, family visit, or vacation. Packing always leads to anxieties and oftentimes the fear that if you forget something you don’t know if you will be able to live without it or find an adequate substitute at your final destination. Packing for a OneSight clinic is much the same except you need to focus and “skinny down” your essentials.
When you are notified you’ve been selected you immediately drag your biggest suitcases out of storage and set them up (open of course) in your spare room so you can pack as you pull together your necessities. After all, you definitely do not want to stress out about packing the day before you leave. You then start to plan out when to get your hair done, get a manicure and pedicure, and shop for more clothes. After all a gal has to look good!
As the weeks go by you continue to add to the ever growing pile of stuff you think you will be taking with you for those two weeks. There are clothes for every day, shoes to match every outfit (wedge heels, comfy shoes, dress shoes, sandals, crocs, tennis shoes, and flip flops), all the assorted accessories that go with each outfit that you plan on wearing…necklaces, earrings, bracelets, watches, scarves, shawls, sweaters (of various weights and colors), jackets (in case it’s cold), raingear, umbrella, gloves, and hats.
Meanwhile, as you are gathering all your stuff you are receiving communications from the clinic leaders advising you to pack light, don’t bring anything you don’t want to lose, and limit your luggage to one checked bag and a carry-on. Of course all of these warnings fall on deaf ears as you are still thinking about what you will “need” when you go. Of course the word “need” is relative as you will soon understand. In addition you are advised to think about bringing some snacks along in case you don’t care for the food or need a quick pick me up during the day. Ok, back to the store to stock up on food essentials….a big jar of peanut butter, crackers, cookies, M&M’s (peanut of course), beef jerky, powdered drink mixes to give water that extra flavor, granola bars, fruit snacks, gum, and anything else that happens to catch your eye. After all, you will be gone for two weeks! All of this also goes in your spare room to be packed into your suitcases.
A few more weeks go by and the conference calls start and you are advised to bring things for the kids, volunteer gifts, and a silent auction item. You are also told that you will be given three clinic t-shirts which you will wear every day. Ok, back to the store again where you load up your cart with stickers, small toys, pens, pencils, coloring books, crayons, pins, makeup samples, Frisbees, playing cards, games, and anything else you think will be appropriate. Then it’s the search for the ultimate silent auction item that you hope will be the big hit. You go through the checkout line and again all of this gets placed in your room for packing. Of course, as you start e-mailing back and forth with the other team members everyone is talking about what they plan to pack and you make your mental note to dash to the store to pick up a couple more things that you hadn’t even considered before.
As time gets close you walk into your spare room and are stunned by all you see. Where did all this stuff come from? Surely you didn’t put all of it in this room. You look at the suitcases and then back at the piles and realize you may be packing a steamer trunk instead of a suitcase. Here’s where reality sets in. You have a stern talk with yourself about the fact that you are only leaving for two weeks and not two years as your pile of stuff seems to indicate and you start to weed out all non-essentials. Eventually you think you have the pile down to a reasonable amount and you start to pack only to realize you still need to leave more stuff at home.
Finally the night before you are ready to fly out you once again re-pack your suitcases. There is no need for 14 different outfits; you will be wearing your clinic shirts every day. You realize 2-3 pair of jeans/shorts are plenty, you can wash your unmentionables out in the sink and let them air dry, you only need one nice outfit for that outing with the clinic hosts, only a couple pair of shoes, minimal jewelry, a sweater or jacket, a rain poncho, some snacks, a few gifts for volunteers and kids, your silent auction item, a book and some magazines for the long plane ride, your iPod, and a travel pillow. All the rest of the stuff that you thought you needed you now realize is unnecessary. You have now managed to get all of your items into a suitcase and carry-on.
CONGRATULATIONS you are ready to leave on the adventure of a lifetime and meet your fellow team members. With passport in hand, money exchanged, and bags in the car you leave for the airport. WHEW………….
October 12, 2011
It's been 9 months in the making and now we're less than 72 hours away from 40 people traveling from all corners of the globe to Mtubatuba, South Africa with one goal--to help give the gift of sight. We are proud Luxottica Associates and Doctors that are volunteering our time with OneSight so that we can give back to the global community that we are members of.
We invite you to follow us here on the offical clinic blog. The blog will be where we will introduce the clinic team, talk about our journey to Mtubatuba, share pictures, and talk about our experiences helping people see better one pair of glasses at a time. We'll have lots to share during our 2 week clinic, so check the blog often!
So a little about OneSight. 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 over it's 20-year history. For more information, check out www.onesight.org.
Alright, that's enough for tonight--the team has lots of packing to do (and some last minute supply shopping!)
About the Clinic
2011 South Africa 2 Clinic Blog Clinic
A team of 40 trained volunteers and doctors from around the world will come together to provide much needed eye care and eyewear to the people of Mtubatuba, South Africa.