The Lions In Sight team conducted four days of vision clinics near Panama City in September, 2023. The clinics were hosted by the Penonomé and El Valle del Anton Lions Clubs.
The LIS team members hailed from California to Florida including four optometrists, one
almost graduating optometry student, two opticians, one nurse and eight hardworking Lions Club members. The LIS team also featured a refracting technician from Chihuahua State in northern Mexico. A team of five optometry students led by their professor further augmented the team.
Penonomé was the site of the first clinic and is the capital of the Coclé province. It is located in the flat lowlands of the geographic center of Panama, about 2.5 hours west of Panama City. Penonomé has a large Chinese minority population which has become an important part of Panamanian culture.
The clinic was held in a health center at the back of the Penonomé Mall. The two-day clinic aw almost 1,000 patients. After day two, the team met with the mayor-alcalde of the city, Paula Gonzalez, who lent a bus to the team allowing them to reach their next location, Coclé, for the last two-day clinic at El Valle de Anton.
El Valle is about an hour’s drive from Penonomé, located high in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The town sits high in a valley created by the collapse of an ancient volcano. El Valle presents itself as an ecotourism center with tourists and locals alike visiting for the cooler weather and the variety of tourist activities.
The El Valle clinic was held in a local school during a school holiday. The clinicians saw another 1,000 patients over the two-days. Dinner on the last night was a barbeque at the home of a local Lion Club member.
Before returning to Panama City, the team visited with local ornithological expert Mario Bernal who trained in the United States. His career in Panama included working with the Smithsonian Institute’s Tropical Center and Ancon Expeditions. The over 350 different species of birds found in El Valle are described in Mario’s book covering birding in the crater valley.
For more details about the clinic trip, click here.