Seeing the World More Clearly
Elena Galindo’s son, six-year-old Eduardo Sanchez, was having trouble in school because of his blurred vision. Due to their low income, a challenge shared by many of the local residents, Galindo and her husband could not afford to purchase eyeglasses for their son.
The Lions Step In
During an annual Lions eye mission to Ensenada, Mexico, doctors examined 800 men, women and children – including Eduardo – and distributed eyeglasses free of charge to those who needed them. Lions of California and Lions of Mexico worked together to make this mission possible. California Lions collected and prepared eyeglasses, sent eyeglasses to Lions in Mexico for the mission and organized the mission team that drove to Ensenada. Lions of Mexico worked with the local government, police and places of worship to invite those in need, and provided the mission location, tents and translators. They also provided assistance during the mission.
Seeing is Believing
“I am so happy,” said Elena Galindo. “Not only has this helped our family financially, I also got to see the smile on my son’s face when he put his glasses on.” Those who are fortunate enough to be part of a mission team also benefit by learning, meeting new people and feeling the reward of helping those in need. “No amount of money could replace the satisfaction that comes from these missions – seeing the expressions on these faces and really meeting a need,” said Raul Fernandez of the Ensenada Todos Santos Lions Club.
Facts and Figures
Lions are working to expand their efforts by having a second annual eye mission to focus on the vision needs of children. Lions of Mexico are also planning to open a permanent clinic north of Ensenada in Tijuana.
Tips and Tools
Make It Happen: Making an Eye Mission Possible
Where did you start? »
A Lion in Los Angeles, California, USA, worked with Lions in Mexico to organize the first Lions optical mission in Ensenada, Mexico. The mission was a success and became an annual project. Lions in Sight of California organized the most recent mission in August of 2008.
How did you fund the project? »
Lions and other volunteers collect and recycle eyeglasses in California. In addition, mission teams from the USA volunteer and pay their own way to visit the mission site. And, the host Lions provide meals and help facilitate accommodations for the team in Ensenada.
Who Can Participate in Vision Missions? »
Anyone can participate on some level, from collecting used eyeglasses, participating in eyeglass recycling or hosting or going on a mission. Mission teams consist of doctors, as well as multiple techs to assist with registration, eyeglass distribution and other needs onsite. During the Ensenada mission, the techs included Lions volunteers and doctors’ spouses and children who received onsite training.
How long does it take to plan a mission? »
A mission takes many months to plan. Lions of California sent eyeglasses to host Lions in Mexico three months before the mission to ensure the glasses got through customs in time. You must also recruit mission teams, and host Lions must work with local government to get permission for the mission and to notify those in need.
Any special words of advice? »
Be flexible, wear comfortable shoes and clothes and enjoy it. You are there to help people but you are also there to have fun!
"I couldn’t see the small lettering in this book but now I can read."
Maria Elena Gonzales,
"We have some people who have never worn glasses. They can now read and see their kids."
Dr. Julia Kimball,
Lead Doctor for Ensenada Mission
"The benefit has been so great. People who received eyeglasses have been able to find steady jobs and to be self-sufficient."
Rosa Maria Irizar Izzarraga,
Tijuana III Lions Club