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Ogden mission goes to El Salvador, Honduras


Dr. James Ogden is presently bringing his mission of eye care to Central America. Below he writes of his experiences first in El Salvador and then in Honduras.

March 26, 2014

We had our first day of clinic yesterday in the town of Izalco at the city hall building. There are four fourth-year students from a new optometry school in southern California. We had them, Adrian (from Pacific) and I, doing refractions, and we saw a total of 520 patients. We made good use of the handheld slit lamp that PCLI gave me. It allowed the students to look at some of the interesting things that we saw.

We are working with an organization called FUDEM [a private non-profit eye care organization in El Salvador]. I think it is an NGO [non-governmental organization]. Their project is doing clinics around the country using volunteers like us. They also have a staff that moves the equipment around to the locations and also people who lay out the patient flow. I found out yesterday afternoon that the patients have to pay a token fee for new glasses. FUDA does not use recycled glasses. I also found out that about 40 people left without glasses because they could not pay. I decided to spend some team money to help those (mostly elderly) who could not afford glasses. I think that there were 17, and most of them came to thank me as they left.

The hotel where we are staying looks like it belongs in Colorado and is made of rustic wood. We get breakfast and supper here, and the food has been good.

Today we were in the city of Zaragoza at a big Catholic church. It had a lot more space, so the patient flow was better. We saw about the same number of patients, but in about two hours less. The ladies from the church fixed lunch for all of the team.

Two young men from Utah who are serving their two-year missions came and helped with translation and at the visual acuity station. They were very helpful.

Tomorrow we are scheduled to be in the town of Sonsonate. I got a phone call from Alyssa Welch, who is here with a team from Central Washington University. She is going to be close to Sonsonate and plans to come over to where we are. I have to go all the way to El Salvador to visit with some people from Goldendale.

March 30, 2014

My flight from San Salvador [El Salvador] to San Pedro Sula [Honduras] was on time and uneventful. The two trunks with the exam equipment arrived, and there was no hassle at immigration or customs. The other seven from Goldendale all arrived safely about an hour after I did, and their luggage was all there and they breezed through immigration and customs as well. Gary and Sylvia Thacker, our team hosts from Texas, were there to meet us, and we drove to Omoa, near Puerto Cortes, in a van while a truck hauled the baggage. We are staying at the Flamingo Hotel in Omoa, and it looks out over the Caribbean. Sunday morning we went to church at Heart to the Heart school-church-clinic complex. I got to play the accordion at church, and we checked out the building to decide which is the best room for the eye exams. We decided on the computer lab room since it is the right size and has the right amount of lighting—also air conditioning, which is going to be nice. After church, we drove out to the Children’s Village, stayed for lunch and interacted with the kids living there. They have a house for the boys and another one for the girls and babies. The village is about 10 miles from Puerto Cortes, and they use an old U.S. school bus to take the kids back and forth to school. They have a kitchen at the school where they fix a meal at lunchtime.

I got to make good use of the accordion that Walter Goik gave me while we were at the Children’s Village. Almost all of the kids there are interested in music and all said that they had not seen an accordion before. I also took a harmonica, which was new to most of them as well. I played at the boys’ house for a while and after lunch there, I went over to the girls’-babies’ house and played some more. I also played a few tunes with both the harmonica and accordion, but one of the kids had to hold the harmonica for me since I forgot to bring the holder for it.

Today was really wild all along the coast since it is Sunday and many people head for the beach. There were busloads of people traveling to various beaches all the way to the Children’s Village. The Thackers say that it will be quiet here all week now. Tomorrow we start the eye exams. Betty, Wyatt, and Nic are to work with me. Terra is going to work with Carmen on the dental project, and Cody is going to help one of the teachers in the classroom. Darrell may end up in the classrooms as well, but that is not decided yet. Something about whether he has experience or not...

Until next time,

Jim Ogden


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