Reflecting On A Life-Changing Journey To Lota, Chile

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“Last spring, I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Lota, Chile with OneSight. This was my first international clinic and it was a week that I will not forget for as long as I live. From the first day of arrival, we were made to feel very welcomed as part of a family by our Team Leader, Dawn Yager, and her team members. I felt comfortable from the minute I met everyone at the airport.

Upon arrival at the hotel, I had the usual concerns about who my roommate would be. Those concerns were immediately vaporized when I met Damon, who had been perfectly matched to me. Damon and I hit it off immediately and within hours of that meeting had met another 4 wonderful people who would throughout the week become a part of us (so much so that we aptly named ourselves the Lota Six). We were each other’s support system throughout the entire week. The six of us are still in contact and are all certain that we will remain friends for years to come.

I have never been exposed to people that are quite like the people from Lota. They were the most grateful, humble and kind people a person could ever meet. We had children drawing us pictures and giving them to us. Families coming back the day after their visit and bringing us gifts of food, stuffed animals that they had made, notes of appreciation and sometimes just another visit to come to show us how well their new specs are assisting them to get around now that they can see.

Working at every station in the clinic is a must in my opinion, but there is one station that I would recommend each person to work at: Dispense. Not only do you get to learn how to dispense, adjust, heat and fit frames to suit each patient, but you also get to experience the first time that they put their brand new frames on. This is often a time where most of these patients have not been able to see for years, and then suddenly can. I highly recommend having a box of Kleenex on hand, as you will shed so many tears with them that you will not know where all this liquid is coming from. The number of times that I had to clean up my face after fitting glasses on children who had never seen their mom’s face, grannies who only recognized their grandchildren from their voices and mothers who had 2-year-old children whose face they had never seen was completely unbelievable.

Giving sight to the people of Lota is something that was long overdue to them, considering that it takes nearly 2 years for a person in Lota to receive a pair of prescription glasses. We saw approximately 3,500 people in 5 days and each person got to choose and receive a custom pair of glasses within 4 hours of entering the clinic (except for special orders).

To round out my story, I would like to make mention of this family below. They came in all together and immediately grabbed the attention of all of those who were working at their stations, including our clinic storyteller Damon. The mom was unable to work, as her eyesight was so bad that she couldn’t hold a job at all. She had a -11.00 RX and had not seen her youngest child’s face ever – the child was 2 years old. Her husband worked in construction, which was shocking once we discovered he had a -9.00 RX and was not able to see much past his face.

When the mom got to see her child’s face for the first time, she broke into tears and this snowballed across the entire team – there was not a dry eye in there at the time. We were able to supply her and her husband with a set of interim lenses so that they could at least see a little bit more clearly until their prescription glasses arrived.

All in all, it was a very humbling trip. I highly recommend attending a OneSight clinic and giving your time to the people of this planet who are desperately in need of help. You will work hard, you might be on your feet for 16 hours in a day, you may only get a few hours of sleep, and you will be exposed to elements that are not comfortable. But let me tell you – none of that matters, because your soul will be so rich after attending a clinic, that there is no concern about any lack of ‘comfort’ the entire time you are there. I would volunteer at a clinic often if I could – that I can promise you.”