A New Vision in Guatemala
In the last couple of years, Cross-Cultural Solutions has launched Child Health Projects focused on improving hygiene, oral health, and vision in all program locations. I had the honor of seeing these programs come to life, and then talking with prospective volunteers about them: why this focus, how it impacts Child Health, and relates to Child Education, how we implement the program in-country. However, my life was personally changed when I got the chance to be a part of a CCS Vision Project in Tecpan, Guatemala - the Maya Highlands, working in a community that is has grown so be so dear to me.
The CCS Vision Project is so impactul for many reasons. While working with volunteers in Tecpan teaching English, I noticed almost half of the fifth grade class always straining their eyes to read the board, or running back and forth from their chairs to the board to get everything copied down in their (super neat) notebooks. It was distracting, and not conducive to the learning process. I’ve heard other students complain about frequent headaches, or completely disengaging with lessons in school since they couldn’t see what was going on. I saw a practical need, and couldn’t wait to work on the first vision project in CCS Guatemala!
Finally, a family of five volunteers decided to adopt this project - choosing a date to come to Tecpan and conduct vision screenings! They spent a week here in Tecpan, and working at Panimacoc school. They had a big task set for them, as they
* Went through a day of orientation and training, practicing screening each other with School Screener software - and learned how they would lead children through this process in Spanish
* Screened 291 Students, from preschool through sixth grade, for vision impairments
* Weighed and measured all 291 students for school and health records
* Supported a local eye doctor as he saw 96 of those students, giving full eye exams
* Helped 41 students pick out their very own eyeglasses (from a variety of colors), and put them together with prescription lenses. 15 additional students needed different lenses, and have glasses on the way.
That is 56 students who were given the opportunity to now see completely for the first time, enhancing their learning experience at school, and admiring the beauty of the mountains and volcanoes around them. Just imagine the difference this is making in their education - their focus in class, their self esteem - what a joy! Prior to this, no students at Panimacoc wore glasses.
I remember looking around our examination room at one point, and we had almost half of the fifth grade class with us - their teacher had to come check out the process, and was very grateful for what was being done for his students.
The school and Panimacoc community gave the volunteers a wonderful despedida, with traditional dances performed by the students, and a group photo of the 41 students wearing their new glasses - as well as a talk given to the students on why these were important to keep safe. I felt so honored to be a part of this process in Tecpan, and can’t wait to bring this to more of our partner communities!
Check out our future Vision Project dates - and join us to make a practical difference in a child’s life and well-being, bringing sight to those in need.