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FUNDEM team sees nearly 3,000 patients on Central America trip


This is Dr. James Ogden’s report on his teams final days of their optometry mission to Central America.

Thursday, April 3, was a slower day, and we worked at the school again. We finished seeing all of the students who live at the Heart to Heart Children’s Village, so we offered to do exams for the kids who attend the school but live with their families. The school offers a better education than the public system and families who can afford the tuition send their kids to the same school where the village kids attend. We also saw employees of the school and their families.

We have eaten lunch at the school with the kids every day so far. The food has been really good, and they serve good-sized portions. We did a project at a similar school in Mexico about 15 years ago and the kids were not nearly as well fed. Each day chicken has been a part of their meal and usually rice with some vegetables mixed in. There has also been some kind of salad and either watermelon or cantaloupe as well as a piece of boiled plantain banana.

Friday morning we went out to the children’s village and did exams for all of the kids there who are too young to go to the school in town. We also saw the women who take care of kids, the security guards, and the others who work around the facility. We had a great lunch there with the same kind of food as is served at the school—and plenty of it.

In the afternoon, most of the team went shopping. My hope was to get permission to take the accordion and some reading glasses into a prison, but we were not able to get the clearance to do this. Instead, I went with the church music director to the public hospital with the accordion and we went room to room. I played a couple of selections and then he would read some verses from the Bible and pray with the people in the room. Then I would play some more and we would move on to the next room.

Saturday morning, we left for the airport at 3:30 a.m. The drive in the dark was scary since there was a lot of road construction going on with big piles of boulders on alternating sides of the road. The flights were on time, uneventful, and all of the luggage arrived. Those of us who came home to Goldendale arrived at about 2 a.m.

In El Salvador, the FUDEM team (six doctors), the 10 Pacific University Amigos Club optometry students, and I saw about 2,500 patients in five days. In Honduras, we saw 313 and sent back about 60 pairs of glasses. We gave out quite a few reading glasses to the adult patients that we saw, but some needed more than readers and will be getting new ones made to their prescription.

Thanks for your prayers and support of this project. I plan to have my pictures in order in a few weeks, and I will be available to give a report on the mission to anyone who wants to hear about what we did. Call if you would like to schedule a presentation.


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