Children and young adults ages 15 and under are treated free at the Vincent Pescatore Eye Clinic in San Benito. So far, six youth have been measured for prescription glasses, and we have more children on the list. (Both boys shown below received glasses and will also have free eye surgery at the start of the new year.)
Despite their poverty and a reduced price due to our affiliation with the eye clinic, the adults still need to pay a fee for surgery, medication or glasses. So far we have taken 4 adults to the eye clinic. All of them need additional help. Now what??????
Well, I figure we can do this one person at a time with a combination of generosity, microfinance and paying it forward.
Here is my plan. I will pay up front the $50 (Q350) needed for Maria's eye surgery. Maria will pay back as she can week by week. Maria's payments will secure the $50 needed for Tecla's surgery. Tecla will pay back week by week as she can and provide the $50 for Tomasa's surgery. I believe that we will be able to help many people with this system while demonstrating respect, empowerment and
generosity within the community. I can't wait to begin!!!
I chose to work with Maria first for a number of reasons. First, I have known her the longest of the four candidates, I have taught her son Luis and have met her husband and daughter; we have a start of a solid relationship. I thought that she would understand the plan and be a willing participant as well as an avid and respected spokesperson for the plan within the community. Also, she took the first step of participation.....she showed up!!! The doctor at the clinic said that she needed to get her diabetes under control. Maria then attended the diabletic group that Orfe and Dr. Coral started about 6 months ago. This will allow SewHope to educate, monitor and assist Maria with this health situation which causes eyesight to deteriorate. I believe that the doctor will move forward with the surgery knowing that she is under our care for diabetes. (Left: Tecla in green, Maria, Tomasa in black. Right: Mario.)
Perhaps the biggest drawback to the plan is that no one at the clinic speaks English. This is where I hope that Carmen can be very helpful. Carmen knows the people because she lives in their village, she "understands" what I am trying to say in Spanish, and she can work with me until I understand the Spanish that the doctors are speaking. Carmen can also assist with follow up after surgery and to see that glasses are being used by those receiving them.
And that leaves Mario. Mario is not yet 50 years old. He is almost totally blind in one eye and the second eye is not much better. Because of his disability, it is difficult for him to find work and to actually work. It seems that Mario's problem is more serious than that of the others. It may take a trip to Guatemala City to help Mario. I have full confidence that Mario can and will receive help.
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012