Student VOSH Group Helps Over 1,000 People in Panama

Student VOSH group in PanamaIn January 2017, we supported a Student VOSH mission trip to Lidice, Panama. Pooja Berdia, a third year optometry student at the State University of New York College of Optometry (SUNY), traveled to Panama with a total of 12 volunteers – eight students and four doctors.

In just eight days, this group of volunteers helped 1,750 people! Thanks to our partnership with Restoring Vision, we were able to supply the team with a glasses pack containing 300 readers and 100 sunglasses.  We also support Student VOSH chapters through monetary donations.

Pooja and her team purchased additional packs and distributed over 1,200 readers and 1,600 pairs of sunglasses to those in need!

TestimonialWoman getting eye exam in Panama

There was a woman who suffered from a bacterial infection in her eyes when she was only 14. It caused her to get scars across both her corneas and left her completely blind. She is now 34. SVOSH is going to work tirelessly to get her a cornea transplant, which will completely alter her life. She’ll be able to see after being blind for 20 years. She’s so young, she truly deserves a better quality of life than the one she has. I am incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to travel to Panama, had her as a patient, and share her story.

–Pooja Berdia, 3rd year Optometry student at SUNY

About Panama

Map of Panama

Image Credit: US Dept of State

Panama is a Central American country bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia (in South America) to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south.

The capital and largest city is Panama City, which is home to nearly half of the country’s 4.1 million people. Lidice is a small town in the Capira District of the Panama Oeste Province – located east of the capital.

Because of its key geographic location, Panama’s economy is based mainly on a well-developed service sector specializing in commerce, tourism, and trading. This has resulted in it becoming the fastest growing economy in Latin America.

Spanish is the official and dominant language of Panama, with a population composed of 65% Mestizo (mix of White and Native American), 12.3% Native Americans, 9.2% Black, and 6.7% White.

Unfortunately, despite a booming economy, the Panamanian health care system is lacking the basic services for people with eye problems.


Jessica Altamirano

Jessica Altamirano

Communications Specialist at National Vision, Inc.
Jessica Altamirano is a proud Veteran spouse who has worked for NVI since 2014. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. Jessica is passionate about corporate-nonprofit partnerships, philanthropic efforts in developing countries, Veteran recruitment, and creating a culture of health and wellness in the workplace.
Jessica Altamirano