Steve Kinsky 2015-07-15 04:48:20
Calamity in a Distant Land Not Distant for Me Probably just like you, I saw on television the grim images of Nepal after the recent earthquakes there. But I and my wife, Lion Susy Osorio, looked very intently for people we might know or places we had visited. Last November we had traveled to Kathmandu to lead vision screenings and distribute eyeglasses. The Denver Lions Club and the Kathmandu Gliese Lions Club are twin clubs. Our club has screened thousands of schoolchildren in Colorado. I’m 65 and retired from my work as an actuary and health insurance broker. So I had the time to travel to Nepal and the experience of doing screenings. The three flights to Nepal took 21 hours. We had with us 1,200 pairs of eyeglasses, provided by the Sterling Lions Club, a Nikon autorefractor to screen patients of any age and a Colorado Kidsight Plusoptix machine to screen children. Our first adventure was at the airport. Customs officials insisted we needed a letter from Nepal’s Ministry of Health authorizing our mission. Two things helped us gain entry. Our colorful Lions polo shirts apparently gave us credibility. Also convincing was a letter explaining the mission I had obtained beforehand from the Kathmandu club. After a friendly meal with our Lions hosts, we headed to Balkhu, a slum in Kathmandu. We knew about the nation’s poverty. Nepal ranks as the world’s 19th most impoverished country, worse than Rwanda, Honduras and Ecuador, three nations where our club also has done missions. The poverty was evident—the clothes, the buildings, what was and wasn’t in homes and shops. It was no wonder that eye care was desperately needed. But poverty does not describe or define Nepalis. They are resilient and upbeat. When we smiled at them, they inevitably smiled back. They especially enjoyed it when we hailed them with “namaste,” their customary greeting that means “I bow to the divine in you.” Nepalis are people who respect other people. They also are funny, unpredictable and idiosyncratic. The children especially charmed us. One little boy told us his eyes teared up from time to time. Determined to diagnose his condition, we asked him a series of questions. He eventually admitted his eyes watered when he yawned a lot. We had a lot of help with the screenings. With us were a number of Lions, several ophthalmologists and optometrists and college-age youth volunteers. In four days we saw 850 people and distributed 360 eyeglasses, 200 we had bought and 160 we had custom-made. The Nepalis had to wait in line under a hot sun for the screening and then wait again for their glasses. But they were obviously pleased with their glasses and their improved vision. They are accustomed to doing without. That’s why the earthquake seemed particularly devastating—and why after the disaster our club quickly donated $3,000 to LCIF for relief and held two fundraisers—one at a Nepalese restaurant—that raised another $3,600. Through a flurry of emails and text messages, we discovered that our Lions friends in Nepal are safe. But many now live in tents because their homes were damaged. We know their resolve and grit will get them through this crisis. Please keep them in mind and support the people of Nepal. Namaste! Kinsky is the second vice district governor for District 6 C.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/My+Roar/2216797/265891/article.html.