0 In Explore/ International Development/ Nicaragua

Clinic days in Chinandega, Nicaragua

(Part 2 of 3. Part 1. Part 3.)

Seeing the world just a little more clearly.

Through the provision of simple reading glasses, parents leave with the ability to read to their kids and to navigate surroundings that undoubtedly make more sense. Prescriptions for children and adults alike that can’t be immediately filled through the donated prescription glasses we have amassed are sent to an optician for later distribution. Those whose vision is blurry are given answers, and cataract surgery referrals are coordinated. Sunglasses are provided to help reduce sun exposure to eyes severely damaged by harmful rays.

The beaming faces of those walking away with new glasses, a new perspective, and new possibilities in turn light up our team. Young Maria is handed glasses with a prescription of -6.0 in one eye and -5.0 in the other—an unlikely combination to have on hand, but we do! She sees clearly for the very first time. With this, her teacher sees her potential to learn to read. Her parents see her future. And we all see the world just a little more clearly.

The world is hers for the reading.

Everyone smiles in the same language.

By Clinic Day 4, we unload and unpack our equipment/supply bins with the ease of a finely tuned pit crew. We arrive to patients waiting in the shade of the few trees in the churchyard.

Inside the church, patients, some visiting the dentist for the first time, are offered a hand up onto table tops. They bravely squeeze the hands of strangers they have only just met—strangers bearing smiles and offering comfort, relief of pain and treatment of infection.

And while translators are on hand to bridge the language barrier, the smiles, handshakes and hugs inside the four walls (and, let’s be honest, outside the four walls) need no translation.

At home, I’ve never had a dentist offer a hug after a difficult procedure, or a volunteer hold my hand during a filling. But I have also never had to wait in line outside a clinic to make sure I am treated. I have never had to wonder when my next opportunity might be. I have never had to face surrendering three day’s wages for an extraction if I miss the opportunity in front of me.

The churchyard is quiet now. The final patient dismounts the table top (the last of over one hundred people treated tirelessly each day). She extends a hand to her dentist. No words are exchanged. But she smiles. He smiles back. Both speaking volumes. Loud and clear.

Be the reason someone smiles today.


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