How far do you drive for a doctor’s appointment? For most of us, here in Utah, a few blocks or maybe a few miles is a far as we have to go.
But for hundreds of people, you’re about to meet, 10-mile walk or one-hundred miles in a car are not too far. A small group of Utah humanitarians traveled thousands of miles, to a remote town in the mountains of El Salvador, to keep an appointment with them.
Juayua wakes up.
But this will be no ordinary Monday morning.
The Americans are here. A borrowed school bus full of former physicians many of them eye care specialists and other volunteers on a mission of mercy.
And two blocks from the town square a line of people forms. More than 500. Some of them traveled more than 100 kilometers to get here. Each one, clutching their $2-ticket that gets them inside.
The Gimnasio Central, the central gymnasium, has been turned into a massive eye clinic. Eye Care International volunteers, many of them practicing or retired medical professionals, screen for every possible vision impairment. Most of these people will get their first pair of glasses.
“Bien Benido.” “He says, ‘I’m really glad because this is a gift from God.'”
Pedro Antonio Lorenzana, 57, walked 12 kilometers motivated by one desire.
Eighteen-year-old Graciela tries on her first pair of prescription glasses and smiles seeing a chance to continue in school.
Others can’t be helped here. They’re blind.
Rosa Martinez, 84, came out of the diagnosis room with a black “R” over her right eye.
“Non veo mui bien… ” “She doesn’t see very well. With that eye, she cannot see at all.”
“We’re waiting for the ‘junta’ – which is the organization that’s in charge of approvals for doctors to practice in-country, both native, as well as foreigners – for final approval for doctors to do surgery. We have approval for all the other doctors to optometry. We just don’t have the final approval for surgery, which we hope to get this afternoon.”
A few more hours of waiting.
85-year-old Mariana de Jesus Dunes Palacious doesn’t seem to mind. She’s focused on what she might see if the American doctors can work a miracle on her tired old eyes.
“Mi familia e tambien la iglesia.” “Her family and church.”