Each year, CooperVision provides support to every SVOSH chapter at every school and college of optometry in the US. We are proud to support this important initiative and delighted when we hear about the students' experiences after their trips. Thank you to NECO for sharing this story.
To be a part of a compassionate team dedicated to providing eye care to those in need is an incredible opportunity. This year, the New England College of Optometry’s S-VOSH team included 22 students and 5 optometrists who performed eye exams for over 600 patients. From March 31 to April 3, 2019, the S-VOSH NECO team provided eye care to those in Guerra, Dominican Republic, with the help of Gilden and Batey Relief Alliance.
Guerra is a rural zone in the Santo Domingo province lacking resources and employment opportunities for many in the community. Since 2004, Gilden has employed those in the community of Guerra. About 1,800 people work in different areas and levels for Gilden in Guerra, providing for their families. Gilden graciously provided a space for VOSH and Batey Relief Alliance at their factory to set up exam space. The VOSH team worked with Batey Relief Alliance, a non-profit humanitarian aid organization whose goal is to create a safe and self-sufficient environment through healthcare, food security, education, disaster relief, and community development programs for those affected by poverty, disease, and hunger in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Over the course of four days, NECO S-VOSH students and doctors served patients by providing comprehensive eye exams, prescription glasses, sunglasses, medications, and artificial tears. It was a humbling experience to see a community so thankful for the effort that students and doctors put in. The students became stronger as future eye care providers and as individuals by facing unfamiliar situations – performing exams in Spanish, communicating with deaf patients, and encountering eye conditions and diseases not as common in the United States. Together, as a team, the students developed a greater respect and gratitude for their patients, preceptors, and future profession. The connections built with the doctors, Batey Relief Alliance, and Gilden will forever be a piece the students carry with them into practice and they express their gratitude for this opportunity.
To be able to participate in this fulfilling journey, each student had to complete at least 50 volunteer hours over three years to fundraise and prepare for the trip. On top of that, each student took time out of their busy school week, missing class, work, and clinic to donate their time to such a rewarding cause. This trip was made possible not only by all the hard work that was done by the students before and during the trip, but also by the generous contributions of those who support their efforts. S-VOSH NECO is thankful to CooperVision for their philanthropic contributions to our organization and we hope to have their continued support throughout the years.