San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
January 9-16, 2016
VOSH-Connecticut held its fifteenth annual eye care clinic in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua on January 9-16, 2016. This was the eighteenth year of service at this site to the San Juan del Sur area, the fifteenth under the auspices of VOSH-Connecticut, along with three previous missions under the auspices of VOSH-NECO. The team consisted of 66 mission members, per below.
In addition to patients seen in and around the San Juan del Sur area, the following buses organized by Joyce Krinitsky provided patients all 4 days at a cost of $3,310.00.
As in years past, approximately 50 local volunteers assisted with the mission. This year’s mission was organized and supervised by Local Director Lena Ruis, who was outstanding in every aspect and will continue to be responsible for the clinic going forward as the previous sponsor, Dr. Rosa Elena Bello, recently resigned as Mayor of San Juan del Sur and is no longer involved with the clinic.
In addition to the 1800 pairs of glasses purchased by VOSH-Connecticut from the Virginia Lions Club, 3,000 pairs of sunglasses & 400 pairs of readers were purchased by VOSH-CT. The dispensary once again was run very organized and efficiently by long-time VOSH-CT member Optician Mareshah Lynch, and another long-time VOSH-CT member Chief Dispensary Assistant Sally Lee and her daughter Grace, along with the experienced Dispensary Assistant teams listed above. Optician Mareshah Lynch received generous donations of lenses from Encore Optics LLC for which we are very grateful and allowed us to have a few hundred pairs of brand new glasses to give to patients with corresponding prescriptions. Our office also received a generous donation from MJ Optical which allowed us to provide an additional 45 pairs of bifocals to the patients.
As we started last year, each mission member was asked to transport one supply bag and most mission members as part of the transport team arrived in Managua on the same day & time per our request to assure that everything got through at one time. Going forward there is no choice but to mandate that anyone transporting a bag must arrive with the group or whatever they have will be taken at customs. We also continue to be very appreciative of the generosity and kindness of Dr. Lynch, who has donated thousands of readers at his own expense to our missions over the years and received a 15 year recognition of service award from VOSH-CT.
Gabriel Holt and the entire staff at Pelican Eyes were very gracious and helpful to the mission members where most stayed this year, and we are also very appreciative of Kelvin Marshall and the Del Sur News, www.delsurnewsonline.com for providing information and coverage to the local area about the mission. We also continue to receive excellent service from Richard Morales, owner of Gaby Transport, along with his drivers and helpers. Richard and his company provided safe and reliable transportation services to the group and its members throughout the mission, and we are very grateful for everything Richard did to help out on our behalf. We are also appreciative of the help provided by Richard’s wife Ruth Perez in assisting us with needed mission supplies and tables for the clinic. In addition, Roger Mahieu, Jr., owner of True Value of Litchfield, once again donated 100 nail bags which were distributed to mission members and volunteers and used to hold eye glasses and sunglasses, and we are most appreciative of his kindness and generosity and support of our mission. We also continue to acknowledge and appreciate the tremendous amount of work our office assistant, Nicole Gaynor, as well as our son Orlando Sevilla, do each year throughout the year in preparation for the mission.
The clinic was held for the eighteenth year at the Centro Escolar Enmanuel Mongalo y Rubio. It was set up Sunday, January 10th, 2016 with 8 examination rooms, a dispensary & lunchroom. Lunch of local pizza and bakery goods was provided by VOSH-CT. The clinic officially opened on Monday, January 11, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. Breakfast was provided each day by VOSH-Connecticut beginning at 7:00 a.m. Patients were seen from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., with a break for lunch provided by VOSH-Connecticut from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Clinic then resumed from 2:00-dark. As in the past, VOSH-Connecticut provided for all expenses for both mission members and local volunteers relating to the clinic including breakfast, snack, lunch, at a cost to VOSH-CT of $1,900 for the 4 day mission. Certificates of appreciation and participation were given to all participating mission members.
Over the four-day clinic period, we saw 3,205 patients broken down as follows:
Over the past 14 years, we have seen a total of 39,141 patients broken down as follows:
(2003-3,158) (2004-2,530) (2005-2,607) (2006-2,283) (2007-2,359) (2008-2,428) (2009-2,674)
(2010-2,853) (2011-3,259) (2012-2,772) (2013-2,696) (2014-3,129) (2015-3,188) (2016-3,205).
Numerous drugs were donated by Alcon Laboratories, Inc. and Allergan Pharmaceutical., and were very helpful & very much appreciated by the patients throughout the week. We have continued our relationship with the Norwalk, CT Sister Cities program under the direction of Tish Gibbs, who once again provided a bus this year from Nagarote under the direction of Miguel Salinas, which all worked very well.
Escalating mission costs continue to present a challenge. Total mission expenditures are now close to $15,000 per mission, funded solely through volunteer donations solicited primarily by myself through the CAO, as well as through our yearly mission fees and the generosity of our close friends and associates, as well our 40th wedding anniversary celebration, where we asked for donations to VOSH-CT in lieu of any gifts, which worked out very nicely. We continue to be appreciative of the generosity of the members of the CAO and others, as well as our mission members, who give so generously not only of their time but financially as well.
San Juan del Sur is definitely a much busier place than it was 18 years ago, although from our continued observations, the need to provide eye care has not diminished in any way, and in fact continues to grow as we continue our efforts to outreach to the out-lying communities where the need is greatest. It is our plan to continue to look for more places to outreach and provide services to, especially if we continue to have the amount of volunteer eye care provider support that we had this year from the doctors and students. Throughout each mission, we all try to do the best that we can with the limited resources available to us, and once again, as our mission came to a close, mission members came away with a great deal of satisfaction knowing that a great many in need were helped by their generous and unselfish efforts. Up on You Tube now is a short video “Jefa donates her shoes” which is just a tiny reflection of all of us as mission members providing service and kindness above self. VOSH-CT continues to be grateful to all of those, both here and in Nicaragua, who work together as one to provide eye care to so many who otherwise would have none.
Matthew Blondin, O.D., F.A.A.O. Audrey B. Blondin, Esq., “La Jefa”
Clinic Director-Clinic Director
January 28, 2015
The guys at the office are busy making eyeglasses for VOSH-CT (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) for our yearly mission to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. They are using donated frames and lenses, so that less fortunate people will be able to have vision exams and get new glasses during our upcoming mission in January 2017. Thanks Alex & Wilson and to those who continue to donate to our cause!