*Paola (right) and her mother in their home town in Guatemala.
Paola is 12 years old and from a very poor family.She never asks her parents for anything. She is grateful for what she has, which is very little.
Paola lives in Guatemala, a very impoverished country. She lives with her family in an isolated mountain community called San Luis Jilotepeque. Most of the residents here have an indigenous background and are extremely poor.
Paula never told her family that she couldn’t seethe blackboard in school. She didn’t tell her teachers or her friends.
Since she was eight years old, she suffered in silence.
She didn’t tell them because she knew there was nothing they could do. She knew her parents could not afford to buy her glasses.
Her grades started to decline and she became discouraged and depressed. By age 10, Paola had very low self-esteem because she could not keep up with her classmates.
Two years later when Paola’s teacher called on her to read from the chalkboard, Paola couldn’t see and she started to cry. The teacher talked to Paola’s mother after school that day and encouraged her to get her child’s eyes checked.
Luckily, the very next month Paola’s mother heard about a group of American volunteers coming to San Luis to provide free exams and eyeglasses.
IRT’s volunteer team went to San Luis to provide much-needed eye care for people just like Paola. They provided free exams and eyeglasses because corrected vision is essential to survival and a successful future. IRT provides this critical service in communities without access to vision care.
When Paola put on her new glasses for the first time she smiled and said, “I will not have to cry in class anymore!”
She walked around the room taking her glasses on and off, enjoying seeing the world so clearly.
“Finally, I can be a good student again!” she said.
Paola says she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. We don’t know if she will achieve this lofty goal, but now we know her eyesight will not hold her back.
Good luck with your studies, Paola!