There are so many thoughts, emotions and stories to tell about my families recent mission trip to Panama. It’s difficult to even know where to begin! Our trip’s mission through an organization called VOSH-Minnesota was to provide eye care and glasses to people without the resources to do this on their own. What we provided were 5,000 pairs of glasses, 12 doctors and 27 helpers. What we donated were 1,828 eye exams and over 3,000 pairs of glasses. What we brought home was priceless- new friends, a stronger faith and a desire to share more.
Our trip brought us to two separate locations, San Felix and Boquette. San Felix is home to indigineous people called Ngobe Bugle. These are a group of people with a very long history in this area. Known for their bright colored dresses called the nagua, these people are very self sufficient. Making their own cultural clothing and growing their own food these people live without many of the conveniences we would assume are commonplace in the United States. We were able to provide many of these people reading glasses to be able to continue their work in sewing, household tasks and near work.
Our eye exams were very unlike you may commonly experience in our office. No high technology devices are used. We bring simple equipment and do a simple eye examination. Often we are giving out multiple pairs of glasses because we do not have a bifocal prescription that will work. In these cases we gave out one pair of glasses for distance vision and another for reading. Unfortunately very few children were brought to the mission for eye examinations. I saw fewer than 40 children on this mission but I was able to provide glasses to many in need and most of them were our local Monticello, MN community donations. If you would like to help sponsor another trip in the future you can donate via paper checks written out to VOSH-Minnesota and sent to or dropped off at Uptown Eye Care, 560 Cedar St., Monticello MN 55362.