Tabi (my daughter), Perla (my granddaughter by a son), and I went to meet the group on Tuesday morning. After the FEDICE meeting, and lunch, we all got on the bus to go to the community centers where we would be working. The first thing that impressed me was the drive up to the community. As the bus swayed back and forth on the cobblestone road, I looked down on my side of road into the deep ravine immediately to the right of the road. It strengthened my faith right there….I was praying the whole time that driver knew what he was doing and the bus wouldn't fall into the ravine. Later on, I found out there were ravines on both sides, and the driver had to carefully miss the larger rocks and the steep gullies.
First we went up to the Methodist church to see where we would be setting up the first eye clinic, where I would be working as a translator. The view from the church porch was fantastic, over the blue San Pablo Lake and the volcano of Imbabura to the right. Next we went back down the mountain to the new Children's center, which was built in front of the old center where the Medical clinic was to be set up. Perla and Tabi would be translating for the medical clinic, each in one room, with the doctor going back and forth between the two rooms.
The rest of the group would be working on painting the new infant center to get it ready for the children this year.
The next day, we worked quickly to get the eye clinic set up, the glasses put in order on the tables, the eye charts set up, and the distance measured. I spent that first day going between the front desk, the back where the glasses were, and the middle room where the machine for looking into the eyes was set up. The work was constant but gratifying, to see people who couldn't afford glasses leave the clinic with glasses adequate to their needs. There were big smiles on their faces, and grateful hearts….many wanted to shake all our hands in gratitude. At the end of the day, we had to take everything down, because the next day we would be in the government center of the town on Gonzalez Suarez, at the foot of the mountain.
The group decided to not go back to the hotel for lunch, as it was taking too much time, so we took snacks for lunch the next day. We got set up as quickly as possible in the government offices, and I spent most of my time that day with people who only needed reading glasses. When we had some people who didn't know how to read come in, I decided that we needed some other method for seeing if the glasses were going to work, so we got a needle and thread, and if they could thread the needle, then the glasses would work for them.
The next day, we set up the eye clinic in a house above the Children's center, so we were very limited in space, with only two rooms. It seems the word had gotten round that we were there, so we had more people than we could possibly attend to that day. We also had some three-way translation going on there, as we were working with people who did not even speak Spanish, so we had a couple of people translate from Quechua to Spanish, then Spanish to English, back to Spanish, and then back to Quechua. We used the needle and thread a lot that day.
Every day, we saw almost 100 people, and I'm sure that about three fourths were given a pair of glasses, even if they were just reading glasses to help tired eyes. The people were very grateful, and are waiting for the next clinic.
From my point of view, the work group was a great success, and we are looking forward to working with the people from Plano FCC again.