VEC Employee Takes Medical Mission Trip to Africa

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VEC helped fund employee Erin Allen’s medical mission trip to Africa.

Erin collected several hundred pairs of donated and new reading glasses before she left, then distributed them in the small towns she visited.

The following is Erin’s description of her trip:

3-300x185Our trip was amazing. I wish I could describe to you in words what it felt like to witness someone see, to entertain 100+ children with only bubbles, to spend 12 hours a day working constantly and yet still wanting more. It was truly a blessing.

2-300x183Whenever we first arrived in the villages, I would get gaping stares and children running away from my touch. However, by the end of the week, you would have thought we were all neighbors. I’ve never before seen how genuine love can truly cross cultural and language barriers. It didn’t matter if I had the Swahili level of a 3 year old child; just spending time with those children was enough to have them open up.

On Wednesday of last week, we did the Radiance Seminar with the women. We had about 70+ women attend. We pampered them, painted their nails, gave them lotions and soaps, and just let them feel special for the afternoon.

8-300x300I was in the back, fitting women for glasses when this 80 year old man shuffled in, asking for glasses. After I made him wait for the women to finish, he told our interpreter he had difficulty seeing distance. I tried to explain that I only had reading glasses and few random prescription glasses. There was no equipment for me to check his prescription.

He asked me to try anyway, so I grabbed my “MISC” Ziplock bag and pulled out a pair of glasses. The first pair he said weren’t helpful. I grabbed a second pair. To be honest, I wasn’t very hopeful this experiment was going to work. Nonetheless, I gave him the second pair of glasses and stood back.

He put on the glasses and it was like a light bulb went off. Suddenly, this hunched over old man with a cane stood up straight and with pride. He could see. Telling you through this email won’t give the moment justice. It truly was a miracle that a random pair of glasses from a random donation in America could be the right pair for this elderly gentleman in a dusty church with a dirt floor in Tanzania.

Of course, there were also some somber moments. There was a lot of need: lack of adequate water, health care, education, shelter, and food. I am incredibly grateful for the time I had in Africa, the people I met, and the small impact I was able to be a part of.

I’d like to thank VEC again for their support through this adventure. It truly is a blessing to work for a company that not only supports those who desperately are in need, but also believes in their employees’ dreams. And this was a dream.

The doctors at Virginia Eye Consultants have either authored or reviewed the content on this site.

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