On schedule today was the second eye clinic. It was located at the same batay where we distributed food yesterday, Los Union and was to focus on the children at the Ashford school there-kindergarden to grade 8.
Arnie and Betty our loving and faithful team leaders were a little concerned about our safety after yesterday incidents with the food but I was assured that things would be OK. People are different with medical teams and that is how they would see us. Also, we had decided not to wear our team shirts so that they didn't associate us with the food that had come the day before.
Today my teammates Clarence and Karen(also my dear friend who is on this trip due to my insisting that she join me)
would be helping with the running of the clinic along with Carol who does the local DR work regularly. Since the rest of our team was headed to Puerto Plata to the hospital that was in the opposite direction, we were on our own to navigate public transportation to the school. I had carefully practiced with our translator the pronounciation of our destination stop and felt ready to lead us there. We trucked ours selves down to the highway where we quickly were found by one of the gagua(public buses) porters who escorted us boy scout style across the crazy traffic to catch the "bus"(15seat van with open side door). We didn't have to wait long when we were the 18-20th passengers to get on an had to side across some laps to squeeze in.
|Clarence hanging on so he doesn't fall out the open door.|
I told Karen to do the head count and she came up with 20. Did you count the 4 behind you? Nope, add those.
And of course the lady on the inside of our row of seats needed of first so we all shuffled off, let her out then slid back on. These drivers really fly and we were at our stop in 7mins flat, about 1/2 the time it would have normally taken us.
We walked up the hilly dirt road with the donkey, chickens and goats just a few feet away
and were taken by the contrast of the manicured lawns, paved lanes and palms tree we had just left.
Roberto, the principal of the school and Carol were arriving at the same time and we unloaded into a small cement building next to the school.
I quickly realized that we were no longer in a new donated medical clinic but in a poor batay and that we didn't have power for the auto refractor. Roberto came back with a patched system of extension cords that looked like chicken wire taped together with plugs attached. Seriously? We were going to attach this very expensive machine to that? What about surges?
|We tested it with the frame heater in case it blew up!|
Clarence assured me that plugged into the generator roaring outside, the power would be steady. I trusted his knowledge and judgement and set to work. Our goal was to do as many assessments today as we had on the first clinic, 50 as the school had 200 students most of which had never had there sight checked. 25% in 1 day was a good goal.
Although we had an interpreter with Roberto and another teacher Anya switching out, my college Spanish and the repitition of the routine actually made it so I can pretty much do a basic eye assessment in espanol now.
There was lots of fun working with the kids and most encouraging was how many healthy eyes with good sight I got to assess. From my experience on Wednesday, I know they don't have the support to keep them that way but it was good to see that there is hope that at least they have a good start and things can change.
It was also fun to fit a few of my own pairs of donated glasses as I have a low near sighted prescription with some funky frame that teen girls like.
Most of all it was amazing to take a pair of glasses I had worn on my cycling tour SeaTo Sea-which raised fund for ending the cycle poverty- and give them to a young girl to use to study in school.
I hope they help her see a future and a way out of the poor batay that she calls home now.
Back to the power issue, I was still having on/off issues with the power on the autorefactor and mentioned this to Clarence at our lunch break. He again assured me that it would be due to other things drawing power from the generator and not to worry. About 1/2way through the afternoon, the generator suddenly shut down and word got to us that it was out of gas and that was it. Clarence asked what we would do without power? I said I still had power on the autorefractor, a little confused by it myself. We both followed the patchwork line of cords out the window and decided not to ask question and just keep going.
The day was long and even I was getting exhausted and I don't know who decided it was a good idea to have the 3-4yrs come at the end of the day. I mean really, they are just too giggly and wiggly at that time, it doesn't matter what country you are in.
Also there were some kids who were a little confused about what I was there for as they came in and opened their mouths. They may not have had their eyes checked but good news is a dentist had been to the village!
This is Jane Huizinga. She is showing you the typical donated glasses that are received. If you were a 10yr old, could you wear these?
When 5pm came around it was time to pack up. Karen gave us the finally tally of 84 assessments with 22 pairs of glasses needed and fitted. Included our translator and school teacher Anya who got a beautiful pair of new Versace frames with new lenses that had been donated!
We packed up the equipment and Roberto gracious drove us down to the highway. As we were pulling out, I saw one of the boys wearing his new glasses. He waved to us.
|Without those glasses, he wouldn't have seen us in the truck.|
Karen and I were feeling a little stiff after spending the day sitting in one of those tiny kindergarden chairs. It was the only thing available and the best height for the equipment and the children.
I was prepared to flag our gagua down at the stop which is beside the local military base, who's marching band was practicing while we waited.
This time instead of one of the vans, one of the cars(4 door standard buick) pulled up. I knew the price shouldn't be any different than the bus which was $200 pesos for the 3 of us luss a suitcase with our stuff.
Driver(in espanol): Where are you going? Gayle: Playa Dorado Driver(in espanol):I will take you there(I told you my spanish was kicking in again) Gayle: Quantos peso? Driver(in espanol): $300 peso I just stare at him. That is almost twice the price. He repeats it and holds 3 fingers like I don't understand. I stare back. Gayle: No, no, no. $200(I'll through in some extra due to the suitcase) Driver: NO! Something about gas costing a lot and $300peso. Gayle: No, $200 peso and I turn and walk away from the car and back to Clarence and Karen. He calls us back and gestures to get in. Gayle: $200 pesos, si? Driver: Si, si. Gayle: Playa Dorado? Driver: Si, si. Ok, I wave the crew over and we get into the back seat where there is already another lady sitting. We then told Karen she was riding a lap back to the hotel.
Walking back to the hotel, Karen was complaining that the suitcase was awkward to roll due to the handle being broken. Once again to stop the before dinner whine, I just took it from her and we trucked on. Later she asked if I wanted a break. I said it fine. Karen: I would be more than happy to do it. Gayle: I remember what it was like when you were pulling it and you were not happy. It's fine let's just keep going.
We rejoined our team for a delightful dinner where we indulged in some great cerviche- a new experience for some of them- and I ate local again trying the DR dish of mofongo-delicious!
It's hard to believe that in 24hrs we will be flying home. Tomorrow I am looking forward to the dedication of the house and to meeting the family that will be living there.