During Thanksgiving week 2019 Lions in Sight ran two clinics in Ethiopia with their co-sponsor the Community Presbyterian Church of Danville, CA. Six doctors led by Sarit Catchatoorian and Todd Pickens were assisted by 11 volunteer technicians. Community Presbyterian’s congregation sponsors a school in Sintaro and a hospital in Mehretu, both located near Hawassa, just south of the capital, Addis Ababa. The church supplied volunteers, logistics, and clinic translators.
During the week, volunteers worked in areas that had never had eye care. They dispensed over 2,600 pairs of glasses, ordered glasses to be delivered to patients in February, and made over 200 referrals for cataract surgeries or care for major eye conditions such as river blindness.
In Sintaro the clinic was held in a mud floored tent. Eyeglass dispensing was done in a tin shed with a gravel floor. The team dispensed eyeglasses brought into the country by the volunteers as the majority of glasses LIS shipped to Ethiopia were held up in Customs in Addis Ababa. There were enough glasses to disperse to school children and most of the adults.
In Mehretu the clinic was held at a local hospital with doctors working in a tent and dispensing done under an awning. The eyeglasses held up in Customs were released after local politicians and the media reported on the clinic. No bribes were needed! When the glasses arrived, technicians quickly filled all the prescriptions from the Mehretu clinic and those remaining from Sintaro.
The team was able to take a day to relax at Lake Hawassa. The boat and walking tour allowed the group to see local wildlife including monkeys and hippos.