Two years later, a second medical mission calls
In the last year, the people of Haiti have been the victims of a string of deadly misfortunes. After the devastating earthquake in January 2010, an outbreak of cholera followed, and Haitians continue to try to rebuild their country.
Dr. Laura Young hopes do her part. “I’ve always had a heart for medical missions and was grateful for the opportunity to serve the people there,” she said recently.
An optometrist and owner of Premier Family Eye Care in Indian Land, Young and 11 other volunteers left for Haiti on Thursday, March 17, to bring better eye care to some of the people of Haiti.
“Many people there do not have regular access to eye doctors. Eyesight is one of our most precious senses, no matter where you are from,” she said.
Young’s trip is a part of the mission of the Friends of Haiti Organization, a ministry of the Free Methodist Church. The organization has a home base in Port Au Prince but lost its two buildings and four of its full-time missionaries in the earthquake.
Young and the other volunteers will take 500 to 800 pairs of glasses, hand-held medical equipment, medicine and sunglasses with them to Haiti.
“The closer you get to the equator, the more problems the sun can cause your eyes,” she said of the sunglasses.
This will mark Young’s second trip to Haiti. She first traveled to the city of Dessalines in January 2009, when Dr. Dave Bejot, the eye doctor who trained her, asked Young to join his mission team.
“We helped around 430 people last time, but we hope to help even more this time,” Young said. “The people were so appreciative.”
On her last trip to Haiti Young said she saw numerous eye diseases, including glaucoma, cataracts, dry-eye syndrome and routine infections.
“Even something as simple as reading glasses can change the quality of life and even the livelihood of many Haitians,” she said. A seamstress, for example, would be unable to perform her job if she lost the ability to focus on small stitches.
Young received multiple donations of eyeglasses through her church, Steele Creek Church of Charlotte; her patients at Premier Family Eye Care; and from National Vision, which donated reading glasses and sunglasses as well.
On her 2009 trip, Young saw firsthand how the eye care the team provided improved the quality of life for their patients That made her decision to return this week easy.
“It’s super rewarding,” she said.
Young will periodically post on her blog while she is in Haiti. To view the blog, go to www.premierfamilyeye.com and then click on Haiti Blog.