The Hopeful Ways Nicaragua project provides free eye care services to this impoverished country, using the Plusoptix Vision Screener.
BY JIM CARLINS
The mission of the all-volunteer members of Hopeful Ways is to offer a variety of health services and educational opportunities to the poor in Nicaragua. Our primary initiative, however, is providing free eye care services to the needy. After Haiti, Nicaragua is the Western Hemisphere’s second poorest country. Many of the people we serve have never been seen by an eye doctor. In fact, a pair of prescription eyeglasses could cost 6 months’ wages.
Our program depends heavily on the Nicaragua Lions Club to help coordinate our missions. They do everything from providing transportation to spreading the word in the community and signing up potential patients. Lions Club International is the largest service organization in the world with 1.4 million members from 46,000 clubs in 250 countries.
The eye care services we provide include vision screening as well as full eye examinations, eye surgeries, and even prosthetic eyes. We distribute prescription and reading eyeglasses, sunglasses, safety glasses, and even eye moisturizing drops.
This year, we tried something new: the Plusoptix vision screener. It was a perfect tool for our program. During our 2-week trip that included a week at a children’s home, we screened almost 500 children! With the device, our screenings ran like clockwork. It is so easy to use that we identified children with treatable vision problems that previously we would not have considered examining. We identified and treated mixed astigmatism in a 3-year-old child.
WHERE WE COME FROM
Hopeful Ways’ was introduced to Nicaraguan mission work by Ann Marie Zon. More than 30 years ago this Western New York native cofounded the Nicaragua Mission Project with priests from the country. Donations from generous supporters in Western New York have allowed the Mission to continue its tireless work. Together, we are dedicated to continuing to improve the lives of the neediest people in Nicaragua.
The Lions Clubs International Foundation established the SightFirst program to prevent blindness and vision loss and assist blind or visually impaired individuals. SightFirst is part of VISION 2020, an international effort to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness. Its goal is to prevent the doubling of avoidable vision impairment by 2020.
With programs like Hopeful Ways and Nicaragua Mission Project and the passion of Lions, we can meet this goal.
For more information about the mission of Hopeful Ways and the possibilities to support their mission by donations, please refer to www.hopefulways.org.
For more information about the Plusoptix Vision Screener, click on here to go to the Vision Screener Product page and for more information about preventive eye care in children, click www.visionscreening.org.
Nicaragua Fast Facts
Second poorest country in the western hemisphere
few social programs such as Medicare or Medicaid
mostly cottage industry and home-based businesses
People are hard-working and friendly
mainly rural, agriculture and ranching
high illiteracy rate
spotty medical care
extensive need for eye care
cost of eyeglasses can equal 6 months’ wages