Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic
Earlier this year, a VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) student group traveled to the Dominican Republic. This group from the Student Chapter at the New England College of Optometry provided eye care to an underserved community there.
Mission Trip to Sabana Grande de Boya, Monte Plata, Dominican Republic
Twenty-five volunteers (21 Optometry students and four doctors), traveled to Sabana Grande de Boya in the Dominican Republic to help those in need of optical services. In partnership with Batey Relief Alliance (BRA), they were able to help 900 people in five days!
BRA is a nonprofit organization that aims to create a safe, productive and self-sufficient environment in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. They do this through health care, food security, education, disaster relief, and community development programs for children and their families severely affected by extreme poverty, disease and hunger.
The volunteers dispensed 800 sunglasses and 500 reading glasses. They were also able to distribute antibiotics, allergy medications, glaucoma medications, steroid eye drops and artificial tears.
For those needing more than just readers, the volunteers will make glasses with the required specifications at their Optometry School in Boston. The volunteers will then mail the new glasses to the BRA for distribution in the Dominican Republic.
Sara Hanna, 3rd year Optometry student at the New England College of Optometry, said,
“I cannot describe in words the emotions experienced when we put on the trial frames with the patient’s correct prescription and witnessing their faces light up. They can finally see my face clearly, they can read, they can look over and see their families faces for the first time in a long time. In the midst of multiple language barriers, their smile was enough to make every effort taken to attend the trip worth it.”
About the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area and third by population. The country also shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
The Dominican Republic now has the ninth-largest economy in Latin America and the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Recent growth has been driven by construction, manufacturing and tourism. This growth makes the Dominican Republic the most visited destination in the Caribbean. However, unemployment, government corruption, and inconsistent electric service remain major problems that contribute to the country’s income inequality.
The World Health Organization considers the Dominican Republic to be at risk for Vitamin A deficiency – the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Glaucoma is another source of concern as it is the most common cause of blindness in Hispanic populations.
More Pictures from the Dominican Republic
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