Over 2,000 People Helped in St.Lucia
This August, a group of us traveled to St. Lucia on a SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) humanitarian trip. Throughout the week, we provided comprehensive eye exams, glasses, medications and referrals to an on-site ophthalmologist for SLT and PRP procedures.
I find it very difficult to express how this trip impacted me in a paragraph or two. Even after doing a lot of volunteer work here in Chicago, there was no way I could’ve anticipated the impact this trip would have on my life.
Growing up in Canada and now living in the States, I always felt like I didn’t have enough.
Whenever I would have to wait for a long time in a doctor's office, I would always
get frustrated. This privilege, cultivated by the circumstances around me, blinded me to what others across the world experience. Everyday when we arrived at the clinic in St. Lucia, hundreds of individuals would line up in the sweltering heat for countless hours to receive care.
For some individuals, this was the first eye exam they'd ever received. Seeing the instant joy on their faces after being able to see clearly for the first time evoked such a beautiful emotion. I think it’s fair to say that this experience allowed me to receive way more than what I was contributing. Aside from being able to help people, I also learned a lot working alongside distinguished ODs and OMDs who were able to share their tips and tricks. I was also surprised by the comradery that all my classmates displayed. With the sheer volume of patients coming through the door, it was great to see classmates stepping up and working together. There’s something very special about partaking in activities like this that solely have an altruistic mission.
For all the current and incoming students who are interested in going on a trip like this, I highly recommend it! To do so, you'd want to join ICO's SVOSH club and volunteer some of your time during the various fundraising events they run during the year. You can also join the SVOSH executive board and plan the different fundraising events as another way to volunteer!
If you're interested, two of my colleagues Anam and Milena did a takeover on ICO's Instagram page. Check it out after you read this blog post!
ICO also put together a video of the SVOSH trip to Peru to give you insight into just how impactful these trips can be!