Today was our last day in the clinic. We arrived at our usual time and already an adult patient was in the waiting room. This would be a good day. The morning went very quickly. The students began to have some nervous energy about leaving - you could tell it in their louder laughter in small groups. It would not be easy to leave.
I spent the first two hours teaching David, a local young student from Patanatic, how to run our eyeglasses area. First I trained him in using the wall eye chart and recording the results. Then we covered the distinct circumstances of elderly patients with very limited vision, adults who were illiterate and children age 7 or older who still could not identify traditional letters and figures. David was a quick learner and as each Xavier student entered to do a patient eye exam he paid very close attention. By 10:45 he had done his first eye exam and by 11:15 he had "prescribed" glasses from the recycled glasses we had received from Sam's Club and Xavier donors in Cincinnati. Within twenty minutes David had offered a pair of glasses to a middle-aged mother and corrected her poor vision to 20/20.
We are taught that if you give a man a loaf of bread you feed him for a day; if you teach him how to fish you feed him for a life.
We had come to Guatemala to feed the health of the community for a week. But on our last day, we taught a community how to fish.
Next week David will teach Sonia and so it will go. The clinic in Patanatic will continue to screen for eye problems and will give its own villagers glasses from Cincinnati.
Job well done Team Xavier!