The Maiden Voyage

Our first mission was a success! I flew home August 29th, after spending 5 days in Guatemala. Vitalino Similox Salazar, the Secretary General of the Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala (ECCG), and his wife, Nora Paloma, an ECCG coordinator, were kind enough to allow me to stay in their home in Chimaltenango, a city right outside of Guatemala City, for the duration of my trip. In my checked bags, I brought 900 pairs of recycled prescription eyeglasses generously provided by the Lion's Club.

Distributing and building partnerships

Upon arrival, Nora and I split the glasses into 3 equal portions: one destined for Guatemala City, one for Chimaltenango, and one for Quetzaltenango. After delivering his sermon the Sunday after my arrival, Héctor Castañeda, the pastor of San Juan Apóstol church in Guatemala City, invited me in front of his congregation to explain my cause and present our gift of 300 glasses. Héctor explained how his church would work to prescribe the glasses to his community. Next, in Chimaltenango, I spent a day working in a clinic with a team of members from the ECCG to prescribe glasses to a long line of Guatemalans. I instructed them how to use an eye chart to yield a very close approximation of a lens prescription, a technique previously taught to me by my mom, an ER physician. The remaining glasses would be distributed at this clinic at a later date. Nora and Vitalino have made plans to deliver and distribute the final third of the glasses in Quetzaltenango.

Our first trip could not have gone any smoother. I would like to thank both my friends and family at home, and my new friends in Guatemala, for helping me to make this first trip happen. This trip was a fantastic start for Glasses for Guatemala, and with your help, we can really make a difference!

August 25, 2012