In Optometry school I went on a trip with some of our classmates to Guanajuato, Mexico and did a weeklong vision clinic. The state government in Mexico put us up in a hotel and bussed people in from all over the state. There were stories of people walking 3 hours to the bus stop so they could take a 4 hour bus ride to come to our clinic for free services. I don’t remember the exact number, but I believe we saw a little over 2500 people that week. It amazes me to this day the lengths people went to just so we could give them an eye exam.
Last year I was thinking about that experience and trying to figure out how to do something similar. With 2 small children, full time job, etc. I could never figure out how to get away long enough to help those who need it in a foreign country.
As I was searching around for an opportunity that would work, I stumbled on to the Remote Area Medical (RAM) website (www.ramusa.org) and watched a video about their founder and mission. They not only do vision care, but dental, primary care, etc. Unfortunately at that time there were no clinic dates that lined up with my schedule.
I had forgotten about it over the past year, then out of the blue it popped into my head to look into it again. I saw that there is a clinic in Harrogate, TN which is a little over 3 hours from Louisville and knew that this was a time I could make it. My wife (also an optometrist) and I will be headed down this weekend and volunteer our services to help some fellow Americans who need some help.
If you would like to learn more about Remote Area Medical head to www.ramusa.org/about/ and look into their goals.
If you are interested in the 60 Minutes report that sparked my interest go to https://vimeo.com/753559
If you would like to donate to Remote Are Medical go to http://ramusa.org/donate/
There is a clinic in the Lexington Convention Center November 7-8th if you are interested in volunteering, but not wanting to drive too far from Louisville.
Chris Stroud OD