Robert Hawara (AMBA’10) volunteers on VOSH eye care mission in Peru

Posted on November 14, 2012

Queen’s School of Business students and alumni engage in many amazing volunteering activities locally and around the world.  The Centre learned of a recent experience by Robert Hawara (AMBA’10) who participated in a Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) eye care mission in Peru.

During a four day mission in Cusco, Peru this summer, VOSH volunteers provided free eye examinations, eye care, and prescription glasses to thousands of people who would otherwise not have been able to access or afford such care.

“It is a privilege to live in a country that believes health care is a fundamental right irrespective of personal wealth or social status.  Having travelled throughout South America and Africa in the past, I knew that what we take for granted is not an option for many, especially in rural regions.

That’s why I volunteered to participate in VOSH’s humanitarian mission abroad. The opportunity to give back and to help first hand and not through an anonymous donation was too good of an opportunity to waste” explains Robert.

After four gruelling days, over 2,000 patients were cared for by dedicated VOSH volunteers from Canada and the US. Volunteers collectively provided visual acuity tests, fit patients with donated prescription eyewear when necessary, provided ocular health checks and dispensed medical eye drops when appropriate to as many people as possible.

“The mission was a success though it was impossible to not notice the number of people who had to be turned away due to a lack of time and resources” Robert commented. “The never-ending line ups outside of the clinic highlighted the need for basic health care there and in many other countries around the world.”

A memorable moment of the mission that stood out for Robert was when an elderly street vendor (pictured above) needed help to distinguish local currency in order to not be taken advantage of. Her eyesight was extremely poor and no donated prescription eyewear could help as-is. VOSH volunteers put their creativity hats on and built a magnifying device out of cardboard, pens and a couple of lenses.

You can read more about Robert’s experience with VOSH and see some amazing photographs he took during the mission on his blog post.