BRINGING BETTER VISION TO PERU
BY CARA AIDONE HUZINEC
Walach, who has participated on mission trips to Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica, said the trip to Peru was an adventure because they “weren’t quite sure what to expect. I am very fortunate that life gave me plenty,” he said. “I’m just passing that along and it feels good. No one ever became poor by giving.”
Steven Stern, executive director and president of Seattle-based Sight is a Right, said the group screened 1,992 people during the four days. Zorritos, a two-hour flight from Lima, is located in northern Peru 3.6 degrees south of the Equator on the PacificOcean, and Stern said many people don’t wear sunglasses or hats.
I am very fortunate that life gave me plenty. I’m just passing that along and it
feels good. No one ever became poor by giving.” – Michael Walach
“The people down there think sunglasses are only for fashion,” he explained. “They don’t realize they are a necessity. This community never had a group like us come. It’s a town that really doesn’t get many services.”
Signs of excessive sun exposure were evident in those evaluated over the age of 40, 75% of whom had pterygium that caused irritation, vision obstruction or astigmaticvision problems. Cataracts are “epidemic,” Stern said, adding they were seen even inchildren. The group plans to provide cataract surgery at a later date and would like to receive a donated Phaco system to train local ophthalmologists.
The team of volunteers met in Lima and were transported to Zorritos on a Peruvian Navy plane (donated by the Peruvian government) and stayed at the Palo Santo resort, where rooms were donated by owner Lutie Fox, who also gave the group exclusive access to the property during their stay.
Stern said supplies had to be hand carried into Peru, and because of this, they could only bring 800 pairs of prescription frames. Other sponsors of this mission included VOSH International, Restoring Vision, Northwest Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center,National Vision and Nickerson & O’Day, Inc.
“The volunteers who do this are very special. They take time off, and the volunteers become a family,” Stern said. “Michael has such a big heart and it was so nice he brought his son down with him.”