Providing vision: Local donations, Lions members assist in Guatemala
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – In a number of developing countries, eye care is either nonexistent or unaffordable. An eye exam might require a full month’s wages and long waiting periods while doctors crisscross large territories. In addition, many of these countries lack the means to manufacture eyeglass lenses and cannot incur the cost of importing them.
Worldwide, one in four children cannot see well enough to read, and 90 percent of adults over age 40 experience a decrease in their vision and require eyeglasses. Gone untreated, poor vision leads to a stagnant life for many in developing nations, but local Lions Club members are working to change that.
“Twenty-three Lions from Wisconsin and Minnesota arrived into Guatemala City on Feb. 15. We bused to the city of Chimaltenango – population 46,000 – to a hotel located on the edge of town,” said Steve McCabe, Marshfield native and Wisconsin Lions Mission Leader to Guatemala. “Sunday the 16th, we set up our mission site in an auditorium next to a cathedral and government offices located on the main city plaza.
“Monday morning we were greeted by lines of people backed up for three city blocks and three to four people wide. This was repeated for five days in a row with some people arriving the evening before to guarantee they would receive eyeglass.
“We were truly serving the poorest of the poor. Many were Mayan Indians who had traveled from outer villages to receive a free pair of eyeglasses. We were able to serve a little over 2300 individuals.”
Many of the eyeglasses that were distributed came from used eyeglass donation here in Wisconsin
The glasses used in the mission were gathered through the Lions Recycle for Sight used eyeglass program, which offers multiple collection sites in Marshfield. The glasses are then sent to the Lions Recycling Center, where they are sorted, cleaned, categorized by prescription, and prepared for distribution. Lions on mission trips then dispense the glasses to those in need.
Marshfield Lions Club eyeglass collection locations Include Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library, Marshfield Clinic Ophthalmology Department, Marshfield Clinic Optical Shop, Marshfield Clinic Eye Center, Goodwill, Joey’s Optical, Marshfield Police Department, Eye Care Center of Marshfield, St. Vincent de Paul Outreach, and many other locations.