It is hard to understand the impact of the Eye Care Mission, not only the patients we see, but also on the volunteers who serve. When we arrive at the work site each day, we find long lines of people waiting in the sun. Some have come from remote villages, high in the mountains, on foot, on the backs of pick up trucks and crammed into overcrowded buses. Many have ridden or walked for hours. But they greet us with joy, gratitude and respect. Most will spend the entire day waiting in lines to be evaluated, examined, tested, and assigned to surgery or fitted for glasses. Many are very old and worn from the hard work of surviving. The young escort and help the old. One 8 year old walked his limping grandmother from station to station, holding her hand, gently explaining to her what she should do, soothing her, We, the volunteers are touched by the scene that unfolds each day. The patients never complain. They are full of gratitude and hug us, thank us, and bless us. But we are the ones who are grateful for this opportunity to serve others and to renew our faith in the good of mankind.
For seven years I have participated in Eye Care International working, for the most part, at Station 3, Near Vision Acuity. In this capacity I often get an opportunity to shake the hands of the patients as they come forward for the test. Unlike the soft hands of suburban Americans, these hands are rough and calloused. They are the hands of hard-working people who toil in fields and kitchens all day. Their vision has suffered from exposure to the intense Salvadoran sun and to smoke-filled rooms. They come seeking help because, as so many of them tell me, they can no longer read their Bible, perhaps the only book in their house. They come humbly and gratefully, excited by the chance to see better. It is such a privilege to interact with these beautiful people.
The wonderful camaraderie among the volunteers is another reason why I continue my involvement with Eye Care International. Despite the long days in the heat, we work together to serve the hundreds of patients who come through the gate. It is always a “We’re in this together” mentality and our interactions are based on courtesy and respect. So we look forward to seeing each other year after year. For me, it’s the toughest, most wonderful summer camp I’ve ever experienced.
I had an opportunity to volunteer at Eye Care International a couple of times. It is difficult to describe the feeling when serving our brothers and sisters. It was spiritual, gratifying, and fulfilling knowing that we made a difference in someone’s life. I am very grateful to Eye Care International for leading this important mission and hope to continue volunteering in the future.
I also loved the social camaraderie. I met interesting people and developed lifelong friendships with other members of Eye Care International as well as local volunteers.
My experience with Eye Care International was wonderful. I am so thankful because I could see that all the members of the team really care about our people. They tried to make connections with the patients and learn more about our culture for what I could see working together, and every day we were able to help more than 500 people, working hard and smart. I liked how well organized the team was by dividing the stations. If it is possible in the future, I’d love to work together again. Here in El Salvador you are always welcome.
My experience as a volunteer at Eye Care International has been one of the things that fills me with the most satisfaction. When I see the faces of my compatriots who we were able to help with interpretation, in surgery or with their glasses. Seeing the happy face of an older adult or a child who was given glasses and his or her vision greatly improved, is inexplicably satisfying.
I have been a volunteer 5 times since 2006, 4 times in my hometown Santa Rosa de Lima and 1 in Perquín. I hope to continue volunteering in future campaigns, my infinite thanks to the entire Eye Care International team for our friendships.
This is my short story. When I first heard that Eye Care International was going to come to Santa Rosa, El Salvador, and they were looking for volunteers who were learning English and wanted to interpret in the medical field, I didn't hesitate and said yes at once. This was my first proper experience interpreting in that field and, thanks to that opportunity, I realized what I really wanted to be in my life. I realized that I wanted to be a medical interpreter in that moment, and helping others to obtain the help that they needed is just gratifying and fills me with happiness.
Also, a huge thanks to those volunteers, doctors, nurses, and team leaders without whom this wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you to all of the people of Eye Care International for all the help that they provide to those most in need. I really hope this organization continues growing to help more and more people all over the world.
I enjoyed sharing a meal with some members of the team and learning about their different backgrounds. It made me happy that there are still good people in this world and that despite their busy schedules, they set aside a moment to help others.