Ophthalmic students from Vol State bring the technology, expertise and equipment needed to provide the gift of vision for hundreds of people during a yearly medical mission trip to Guatemala. The project is organized by the Hendersonville Rotary and is led by Hendersonville Dentist Dr. Bill Taylor. Each year several students are selected to make the trip.
The mission serves needy people in Guatemala City with vision, medical and dental care, help that they would probably not receive otherwise. The students do vision testing, using eye charts and a portable autorefractor to do a quick vision assessment and depending on the level of need, move on to match the person with the optimum glasses prescription. They choose from thousands of pairs of donated eyeglasses that were tested and labeled by Vol State ophthalmic students in Gallatin. Once fitted with glasses, many of the Guatemalans found themselves being able to see clearly for the first time in their lives.
"We had many older people who had not been able to read the bible or sew for a very long time," said student Nancy Robinson of Lebanon. "It made them extremely happy and they cried. They told us it was the first time they had ever been given anything."
"I've visited many countries throughout the world, but this is the first time that I have visited somewhere with the knowledge and resources to help other people with the gift of better vision," said student Mike Ross of Gallatin. "So many of these people do not have the money to buy food, much less something we consider a commodity like glasses."
"The trip really opened my eyes to just some of the things that are in this world, both good and bad," said Tayler Tomlin of Ashland City. "The people of Guatemala live in horrible conditions, but they were all happy. I realized that there are a lot of people out there who are less fortunate than me, but they are happy and thankful for the things they have. Being able to give something to those people that they will truly be able to appreciate was a wonderful experience."
More information on the Hendersonville Rotary mission trip is available online on the Hendersonville Rotary website.