By Frieda Oliva
In March, OneSight’s first-ever clinic in the Middle East was held in Jordan to help refugees from the Syrian civil war and local Jordanians. On the first day of clinic, the lines were long and the excitement was evident in the city of Al Mafraq, Jordan.
Her Highness Princess Alia Bint Hussein was the guest of honor at opening ceremony and warmly expressed her gratitude and support. The Princess visited each station, walking through each of the steps that our patients go through in the clinic process. From checking visual acuities, to dilation, to the doctor exam rooms – even watching a pair of glasses get manufactured in the full service laboratory. Our efforts were in partnership with The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Ministry of Health, The Al Mafraq Government Hospital and Alpha Optical.
Our clinic spanned March 14 – 23rd in the Al Mafraq region of Jordan. When our 52 volunteers arrived each morning, hundreds of people were already waiting in line to be seen. There were some patients that even slept outside overnight to ensure they wouldn’t lose their place in line. Our team’s level of awe remained strong from the first day until the very last, as each clinic day attracted the same massive crowds of people seeking help.
We came across so many patient stories, like that of Ameer, whose needs for these services have been long overdue. Many who came through our doors knew they had a need for vision care but never had the means to get it, whether due to financial restrictions or lack of physical access.
The bond that the team of volunteers and the patients built during this clinic would not have been possible without the help of amazing translators. Nursing students from the local hospital were among the majority of the translators that helped us get to know our patients on a deeper level and to truly understand the impact that this clinic played in their lives. Rana, a Nurse and Assistant Teacher volunteer who helped us organize translators said, “It is a great honor to be a part of this. It is one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced!”
At this clinic, we served a total of 2,647 patients consisting of Jordanians and Syrian Refugees. 268 of the patients served received referrals to specialists for possible eye related conditions, the most common referral being for cataracts. Out of the glasses we manufactured, 1,021 were made onsite by our lab team and 99 orders were sent to be made at an offsite clinic due to extremely high prescriptions.
“This kind of opportunity is a gift for someone who is looking to make a difference in the world. Volunteering for these clinics has taught me humility and it helps bring our first world problems into perspective. When you’re working to see over 500 patients a day, you don’t worry about social media and text messages. You do whatever you can do to help provide care to the patients and help the clinic run smoothly.”
When the final numbers were announced at the end of the clinic, our team’s hearts were filled with gratitude. We were grateful for the gift and opportunity to be part of the Jordan clinic, for the people of Jordan that welcomed us to their country, for the friendships and bonds built with other team members, all the translators, and especially the patients who were so appreciative of the services they received. Miguel Lopez said it best:
“It is amazing to see how much of an impact was made to bridge the gap for those who need vision care around the world but cannot afford it. I am constantly reminding those around me how much a small gesture such as a small donation, has a profound impact on someone’s life. It is rewarding to know that these gestures have allowed our team to provide a resource that will help someone reach their aspirations without the hindrance of not affording a pair of glasses.”
A donation of just $30 has the power to help even more people like those in Jordan see clearly by providing a free vision screening and pair of glasses. Join us in our goal to #HelpTheWorldSee.