Saturday, March 2, 2013

130302 Sight Unseen

Dr. Mike Pingree from the USA was here this week to set up a vision project.  We visited 3 hospitals.  We visited INDEN (a diabetics hospital) and recipient of last year’s project, then CECANOT, a top notch public hospital who the church helped in 2009.  We were amazed to see a public hospital with up-to-date vision equipment.  Thousands of people were there standing or sitting in LONG lines.  Waiting in long lines is the norm here----a standard byproduct of public medicine.  We are happy to say that the vision equipment donated by former projects is still functioning well and helping many, many people. 

Our visit to the 3rd hospital, Los Americanos (nickname) was really special. We discussed a new project with Dr. Elias Santana Hospital staff, Nicole Hunter and Dr. Evelyn Diaz.  In 2010, we helped them create a low-vision clinic and provided equipment they use in their outreach program into the “Bateys”.  (See our February 17th post if you don’t remember what a Batey is.)  This year we will help them develop a clinic in La Romana.  We are excited to move to this South East area of the Island because we have no current projects there.  We like working with Los Americanos Hospital because they serve the poor---the really poor, even Haitians that have no documents are treated in their facility, because doctors donate their time without pay.

So what do you suppose a person feels when told they are going blind?  Frustration, heartache, and disappointment?  We experienced a taste of what it is like with Yelsia Gomez de Segura, one of our Church members that Dr. Pingree made special arrangements to see.  Sister Segura had been told that she would go completely blind and that there was nothing anyone could do to help her see.  We met with her last week to inform her that the Dr. had agreed to look at her eyes. She was elated and extremely hopeful. The big day was last Thursday.  Dr. Pingree found that she had an organism in her eyes since birth that had destroyed the center part of her eyes.  While that part of the news was disappointing, she was strengthened to learn that she will not lose her peripheral vision and with magnifiers she would be able to read.  The hospital donated 3 magnifiers to her.  She was so excited!

Her day was complete and full of happiness with the timely arrival of a big box containing the Book of Mormon in braille.   This surprise package had been ordered by Elder Darrell and Sister JoAnne Hammon, missionaries who recently fulfilled their mission and returned home. The timing was perfect.  Yelsia has learned to read braille and is now teaching others in her community.  It was a full day and we were grateful to be part of it.

Ever in search of a solution to the water situation in El Cigual, Wallace found a potential solution.  It is a small bio-sand water filter the Rotary Club International has been installing in a lot of communities in the DR.  It consists of about 3 inches of coarse sand, 4 inches of smaller sand, and 15 inches of very fine sand and a bio-layer that forms on top packed into a light weight plastic container.  The water quality is very good that comes out.  The water is free of parasite eggs, pathogens, etc---just good clean water.  Each home would receive a filter unit.
Is this the solution?  We shall see. 
We want to visit the homes of families who are actually using them.  We were cautioned by a former missionary that in spite of the fact the filters do their job wonderfully well, old habits die hard and only a very small percentage of families end up using them very long.  The filters end up sitting in the corner gathering dust as a flower pot.  We feel very conscious of the money we are spending so we are going to do some investigating before we suggest this as the solution.


  1. I think that going blind would be a scary experience. I have always been sensitive to that because of our cousins that actually did have that experience.

  2. Thanks for writing this. We are glad that Hermana Yelsia Gómez de Segura received her braille scriptures. It took a bit of time to arrive, but the package apparently came at the perfect time. Thanks for all you do. You are spectacular! And we miss being there. We did talk to los Crismon today. They are ready to come. Please give them a huge welcome! Saludos y abrazos a todos. Los Hammon