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Rotarians conduct vision clinic in Honduras

These residents in Honduras received eye examinations during a vision clinic conducted by members of Rotary Club of Madison. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – People in Honduras are seeing clearer after help from Rotary Club of Madison members.

For the third consecutive year, Madison Rotarians traveled to remote, mountainous regions of southern Honduras to conduct a vision clinic to provide eyeglasses and medical eye care to residents.

Led by Dr. Michael St. Peter of Madison and International Chairman Tim McMicken, the team has examined more than 1,500 people and dispensed 2,000-plus pairs of glasses. “In 2017 alone, we served 630 people and provided over 800 pairs of glasses. We treated multiple infections, dry eye disease, allergic conjunctivitis and inflammatory conditions,” St. Peter said.

Furthermore, Madison Rotarians are collaborating with the Choluteca, Honduras Rotary Club to provide cataract surgery for approximately 20 people at little to no cost.

Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America and bout 64 percent of its population lives below the poverty level of $2 daily, St. Peter said. Thirty-nine percent of Hondurans work in agriculture. but natural and manmade disasters have devastated that industry.

Lions Club of Indiana donates eyeglasses. A prison work program fills the order and sends glasses in labeled, individual bags. “We organize and pack them into plastic crates that we take on the plane,” St. Peter said.

Madison Rotarians drove to San Marcos de Colon in Choluteca near Nicaragua. Choluteca Rotarians and translator Carolina Tercero guided the Madison team to remote pueblas (towns) to perform eye exams.

Most of the Hondurans have never visited an optometrist/ophthalmologist or worn prescription glasses.

“We’re always welcomed by awaiting smiles of almost the entire village,” St. Peter said. “Our translator/coordinator Carolina schedules the clinic. Many people walk several hours from surrounding towns.”

“We examine eyes using a retinoscope and an ophthalmoscope, providing us with an eyeglass prescription and health evaluation. When we encounter eye diseases like cataracts, we record the patient’s name and the town leader’s phone number (to) coordinate future surgery,” St. Peter said.

“Remote villages we travel to have little to no access to clean water, nutritious food, electricity, basic transportation and medical care,” he said.

One lasting impression from Honduras is the people’s happiness, St. Peter said. “Their happiness stems from sense of community, family and the simple things in life – something we could all learn from.”

Donations to Rotary Club and members’ contributions allow visits to Honduras. “We hope to continue to travel yearly to enhance the lives of the people we encounter and give them the gift of sight,” St. Peter said.

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