Eric Margules 2014-05-13 03:39:39
Wisconsin Lions Bring Sight to Dominicans When the Lions from Kenosha, Wisconsin, landed in the Dominican Republic, it was 100 degrees warmer than when they first boarded the icy plane in Chicago that morning. But Lions set their sights on something more important than a little time in the sun. With support from the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and churches in the United States and the Dominican Republic, Lions from both countries came together to host a free vision clinic offering eye exams, prescription glasses, medication and eye surgeries for the residents of the small town of Sabana Yegua. This was the second time the Kenosha Lions travelled to the Dominican Republic with the help of an International Assistance Grant from LCIF. This year, a $30,000 grant, combined with funds raised by Lions and the St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s parishes in Wisconsin, made it possible for the group of nearly 30 Lions and community members from both countries to host the clinic. Many people around the world including Sabana Yeguans are practically blind when it comes to reading. Says Dr. Peter Emer, a Lion and optometrist who helped organize the mission, “They don’t even have access to a basic pair of reading glasses. Without reading glasses, you can be blind– handicapped–for any type of close visual task.” After just four days in the Dominican Republic Emer and his colleagues examined 1,200 people, handed out 900 prescription eye glasses and made an additional 200 orders for specialized prescriptions. Lion surgeon Dr. Stephen Slana and two ophthalmological assistants were on hand to correct dangerous vision problems identified during the exams. In total, they performed 118 successful surgeries, correcting everything from cataracts and pterygium to problems with eye muscles. This year marked the first time the Lions set up satellite clinics throughout the Dominican Republic to treat residents unable to make the trip to Sabana Yegua. These clinics included a trip to a nearby Haitian neighborhood, where Lions performed eye exams in an old church, and a trip to a local prison, where prisoners and guards alike were provided with sunglasses, eye drops and baseball caps to protect them from the sun. The international cooperation between the Lions from Wisconsin and the Dominican Lions made the trip successful. From transporting patients to gathering patient information and arranging follow-up care, Dominican Lions were instrumental to the clinic. Even after the success of this trip, the Lions are still looking for ways to improve on future missions. For their next trip, Lions are researching new clinic locations and looking for ways to further improve patient access to post-surgery follow-up care. One thing is clear: the international partnership forged between Lions is a bond of commitment and service that transcends languages and borders. Just ask the thousands of Dominicans whose futures look brighter now than ever before.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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