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Changing Vision, Changing Lives

July 19, 2017

An IRT eyeglass clinic in rural Guatemala improves quality of life for many

 

Eugenea Vargas, Teacher

For the past year, Eugena has experienced firsthand the power of her free pair of eyeglasses. She has been a dedicated teacher for the past 20 years, devoting her life’s work to her first grade students. Last year she began to worry she would have to give up her beloved profession when she noticed her eyesight beginning to wane. She visited San Agustin, a 40-minute trip from her village, to get fitted for her first pair of glasses by IRT’s volunteer team.

Eugenea says, “I was very surprised how well I could see with the new glasses.”

She is thrilled she was able to continue teaching her 22 students and didn’t have to pay for eyeglasses in the capital, a cost she could hardly afford. Eugenea notes that many of her students have also benefitted from IRT’s eyeglasses program and now she personally appreciates what a difference they can make in someone’s life.

 

The Town of San Agustin

“We need a lot of help here,” says Hubert Ayala, a resident of San Agustin, a remote, colonial village in Central Guatemala. Located over 50 miles to the northeast of the capital city, the region has few resources, its residents live on less than two dollars a day, few have running water or electricity, and poor vision problems are widespread. IRT is working to abate this problem in this region of Guatemala and is changing lives in the process. Over five days, IRT’s team of volunteers visited the town and screened over 600 people and distributed 720 pairs of reading and distance vision glasses, as well as 332 sunglasses.

 

Brenda de Jesus Cruz, 25

 “Nothing is going to stop me now,” says Brenda after putting on her first pair of eyeglasses.

A young and vibrant woman, Brenda’s dreams for her future were halted three years ago when she noticed her eyesight worsening. In fact, she had to give up her job as a waitress and drop out of school, rendering her completely dependent on her parents. For the last two years, she has lived in their home and helped out around the house and the family coffee farm. She had no hope of returning to her studies and continuing her previously independent life.

The day Brenda traveled to San Agustin and met the IRT volunteer team, she knew her new eyeglasses had potential to change her life. She now has plans to return to school. Although she isn’t sure what she will study, she has a lot of hope for her future.

 

Hubert Ayala, retired police officer

Now working as a farmer after 22 years as a police officer, Hubert enjoys his down time reading the newspaper. However, his eyesight has been worsening and this once enjoyable activity has become aggravating.

 “I had to focus really hard to be able to read,” he said. “It takes the fun out of reading.”

Now that he has his first pair of eyeglasses from IRT, he looks forward to reading again without frustration. He can enjoy his retirement and read with abandon! 

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