From South Africa to Fishkill, NY: My Volunteer Experience

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By Denzil Chetty

“It took me four attempts to write this because the experience I had working at the Fishkill Clinic was just too powerful to put into words. If I could use one word to sum up my 2-week journey, it would be: Amazing.

Onesight partnered with the Fresh Air Fund, in which we offered eye care to kids between 8-12 years old who were at summer camps. We worked roughly 2 hours outside of New York City and visited 4 different camps, all of which were situated deep in the forest. In total we managed to screen 1264 kids over 10 days and gave the gift of sight to 625 of them, manufacturing each their own custom pair of glasses from scratch within OneSight’s mobile lab. Every child went through a 7-step process. With our team of 22 volunteers, we were able to offer quality eye examinations every child, even ones that didn’t need a pair of specs.

On the first day, I became quite emotional. I learned some new things about myself when I met a little boy named Sebastian. He is just 9 years old and lives in a part of New York City called “The Bronx.” He was sent to summer camp due to the current high gang violence in his area. Sebastian comes from a really tough home situation. He was an extremely shy boy that also felt very intimidated by the other kids at camp. However, I managed to cheer him up after we played 3 rounds of arm wrestling, all of which he defeated me while holding his broken specs in his other hand. 

His current pair of glasses only had one temple. The other was held together with tape. Luckily, a few hours later Sebastian left our clinic with a brand new pair. He was surprised when he realized he could now see much more clearly, due to his previous script having been too weak for his eyes. Sebastian was just one out of the hundreds of stories that came through our clinic, but for some reason, we both clicked as if we were old buddies. 

Heavy rain, a truck generator failure, over 37 degrees of blazing heat, bug bites and spiders. These were just a few of the challenges we experienced while at the clinic. However, I would love to relive this all over again just knowing how impactful our work at the clinic was.

I was lucky enough to interact with every single one of the 1264 kids who visited our clinic, as I was mainly based at the PD station. I had so much fun working with all of the kids. It’s incredible to know just how far our in-store donations go. It takes just $30 (450 ZAR) for the entire process that each child went through, which provides them with an eye exam and a brand new pair of glasses. that will Just imagine how many people around the world you are helping on a daily basis without even realizing it. Thank you for going the extra mile in doing so. Every cent donated to OneSight counts!”

A donation of $30 can provide a person in need with a pair of glasses and an eye exam. Donate today and help someone see their world clearly.