Malawi Mission 2015


Verde Valley School is an IB Boarding High School in Sedona, AZ with students from 25 nations. They have been working in Malawi, Africa since 2006. In 2012, Caroline Diehl, the Millennium Development Goals Program Director for VVS, wanted to expand the scope of the VVS projects in Malawi and teamed up with the Sedona Oak Creek Canyon Lions Club to begin doing free eyeglass clinics in Malawi. Dr. Serge Wright and Randy Crewse, Lions for numerous decades, had been supporting eyeglass missions in Honduras and Nicaragua for years. The partners reached out to several Lions Clubs in Malawi and found a willing partner in Dr. Khumbo Kalua of the Lions Sight First Eye Hospital in Blantrye. Verde Valley School students and local Lions went immediately to work. Lion Dr. Serge Wright, owner of Sedona Eye Care, donated his offices and equipment to be the hub for eyeglass processing. He taught the Verde Valley School volunteers and Lions to use lensometers to read prescriptions and the gathering, cleaning and sorting of glasses for Malawi began. Dr. Wright also convinced VSP Optics and Zeiss Laboratories to manufacture 24 pairs of specialty glasses for severe vision impairment based on Dr. Kalua’s prescriptions. These were for children who had been learning by Braille because
the eyeglasses they needed were not available in Africa.

By June of 2012, the Verde Valley School students were off to Malawi, at their own expense, carrying 400 pairs of glasses valued at more than $68,000. A truly meaningful and life changing social responsibility project was underway. According to Iona Swift, VVS Class of 2013, “The eyeglass clinics in Malawi were a really beautiful manifestation of global community and service. Every pair of glasses I handed out and every smile from the person I handed it to was a reminder of humanity’s true potential: ultimate efficiency, creativity, and compassion.”

The Sedona Oak Creek Lions and the Verde Valley School student volunteers have continued their partnership. In June of 2013, they combined their efforts with VSP, Zeiss, and March On to deliver not 400, but 2500 pairs of glasses to Malawi. Fifty pairs of specialty high-powered prescriptions for severely impaired children were brought over in 2013. They also recruited the help of the Zomba Lions Club to expand the reach of the free eyeglass clinics from Blantyre north into Zomba, where thousands of vision impaired people all arrived for help. In 2014, another 3000 pairs of glasses were brought to Malawi as well as 115 specialty low-vision glasses from Zeiss for severely vision impaired children and clinics were again held in Blantyre and Zomba.

Dr. Kalua, Dr. Owen Mkangadzula and Dr. Desire Munthali, and the other members of the Lions Eye Hospital, are instrumental in setting up the various free clinics. They choose areas where there is a great need and access by children is a priority. The free clinics are open to adults and children in need. VVS students and Lions get intake information and do preliminary screening. Those that fail this screening are sent on to see the various eye doctors present to get a full vision screening. After it is determined what prescription they need, the VVS students and Lions find and dispense the appropriate glasses.

Work has already begun to bring another 2500 pairs of glasses to Malawi to be dispensed in June 2015. The Lions Eye Hospital in Blantyre, the Blantyre Lions Club, Zomba Regional Hospital, and the Zomba Lions Club have committed to teaming up with the Sedona Oak Creek Lions Club and VVS again this summer.


Northwest Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center: Mission Report

Name of Organization: Sedona Oak Creek Canyon Lions Club (Dr. Serge Wright – Lions Coordinator for Malawi, Nicaragua, and Honduras) and Verde Valley School (Caroline Diehl – MDG Program Director for VVS and Malawi Mission)

Location/Country of Mission: Malawi, Africa

Mission Dates: June 7-July 2nd – free eyeglass clinics on June 26 and 27, 2015

Total number of individuals served during mission: 3500

Total number of individuals fitted with eyeglasses: 3300

Number of Lions Club members on mission: 2

Did you have any unused glasses? No

Comments/suggestions: Keep up the incredible work that you do! You were able to get us much needed glasses very quickly and they are packed neatly and safely and we couldn’t have asked for a better partner on this.

Photos: Will be attached to several emails I will be sending after this since they are large files.

Submitted by: Caroline Diehl

Date: July 5, 2015

Piura Peru Vision Expedition members

Piura, Peru Vision Expedition

Trip Co-Leaders Chris Bogus & Mimi Kameshige THA Group & HELP International volunteers/translators

A group of 19 volunteers were led by Chris Bogus and Mimi Kameshige to the northern region of Piura, Peru to conduct five days of vision clinics throughout under-served and rural communities. We collaborated with the Regional Government of Piura, the Northern Ophthalmologic Foundation and an organization by the name of HELP International. Accompanying us was a local optometrist from Bringham City, Dr. Bill Harrison, and his wife and daughter. Additional trip participants were from the Park City and Salt Lake City area.

Day 1:

After a cursory tour of Lima the day after we arrived, we boarded our flight to Piura. The following morning we started our first day of clinic in a small town by the name of La Matanza. Local volunteers and policemen greeted us with a warm welcome, as they were eager to help us. Many people were already lined up outside the large, municipal stadium when we arrived around 8:30 a.m. but the local police did a great job handling the crowds. The elders of the community held much respect from the locals as they were pushed to the front of line to be seen first. Thanks to our multiple training sessions prior to this trip, the team was able to set up and were ready to go far more rapidly than we had even hoped. With three retinomaxes and our improved, computer search program by Max Johansen, we were able to see 426 people of all ages. Towards the end of the day, we squeezed in time for the local volunteers and policemen to be seen as well. The municipality provided dinner and the two Alcaldes (mayors) presented a certificate of recognition to us in appreciation. They also presented us each with a gift; jars of locally made honey. Everyone who worked with the municipality of La Matanza was so appreciative of our help and it was really the only place we had felt this gratitude. Every local worker was genuine and kind and we would love to return to this area in the future. Perhaps a future suggestion would be having more than one day of clinic in this community. There are many individuals in need throughout this area as the environment is desolate in eye care resources and basic necessities as well.

Day 2 and 3:

Moving on, we spent the night in Chulucanas and departed for Frias the next morning where we would work for the next two days. Driving up the canyon for about two hours, we arrived in a beautiful town in the lush mountainsides of the Northern Andes. Agriculture was prominent with the cultivation of corn and potatoes. People were waiting patiently inside the municipal stadium as we were setting up our clinic and the first thing we noticed were all the tall hats they were wearing. Since many of them worked outside, these hats did a great job protecting their eyes. Pterygium was less prevalent and it was such a change from the day before. There were still older individuals whose eyes were red and irritated, but there was hardly to any growth of pterygium in their eyes. We dispersed sunglasses to the young adults in hopes of preventing pterygium. Also, if individuals came in and they did not need glasses we would give them a pair of sunglasses and explain the benefits of protecting their eyes. Many older ladies had walked distances of over two hours to make it to the clinic. It was amazing to see their delight in a new pair of glasses. Schoolchildren from the local elementary school were also seen, often given negative spheres to see far distances. The first day in Frias we saw 355 people and the next day we conducted only a half day of clinic since we needed to get on the road to our next destination. During the half-day of clinic we started at about 8:30 am and ended around 1:30 pm. We were still able to see 275 people that morning. The mayor of Frias was very amiable and appreciative of our work as well. Leaving the town around 2:30 pm, we made our way back to Chulucanas for dinner before our long bus ride to the next town of Huarmaca.

Day 4:

Originally, the plan was to drive to Huarmaca early in the morning from Chulucanas but since that drive was roughly 6 hours, we decided to do it the night before. The drive was long and bumpy and our bus was definitely not luxurious. However, no volunteers in our group complained about the conditions and knew that it was all part of what they had signed up for; up to a point. We finally arrived into Huarmaca at 1:30 am. It was cold and windy and everyone was tired, so we knew there wouldn’t be much sleep that night but the next morning everyone was up and ready to serve the community. Everyone worked extremely hard and we saw a whopping 481 people in Huarmaca to bring our trip total to 1,537 patients served. All of our sunglasses had been given out as were many reading glasses. There were also a handful of young adults and children from an orphanage that housed domestic abused children. A few had scars and cuts near the eye from domestic abuse and many were shy and soft-spoken. We fit them for eyeglasses and gave others a pair of new sunglasses. With this, their faces showed an uplifted spirit. Overall, this expedition was a huge success and we couldn’t have asked for a better group of volunteers as everyone worked incredibly well together and put in all the effort towards accomplishing a common goal. Despite travelers’ gut issues and grueling bus rides the entire group put those they served first and assisted many in not only vision care but also in friendship. We are very proud of the accomplishments made during this vision expedition and look forward to future endeavors.