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[SPA] Volunteer Abroad Opportunities

Jennifer Staple JStaple at
Wed Nov 7 11:02:34 PST 2007

Please Forward Widely

*Volunteer Abroad With Unite For Sight in Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer*
*Make A Difference!

*Save Eyes and Lives.  Every Eye, A Life.
Those who are blind in Africa have a* four times higher mortality rate
**60-80% of children who become blind die within 1-2 years
80% of blindness is curable or preventable

*How Do I Apply?  *The application as well as complete details about 
Unite For Sight's international opportunities are available at 

*What is Unite For Sight's Mission? *Unite For Sight 
( <> is a 
501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers communities worldwide to 
improve eye health and eliminate preventable blindness.

*What Do Volunteers Do?:* The goal of Unite For Sight and its partner 
eye clinics and communities is to create eye disease-free communities.  
Unite For Sight's volunteers (local and visiting) work with partner eye 
clinics to provide eye care in communities without previous access.  
Visiting volunteers from North America range from undergraduate and 
medical students, educators, nurses, and public health professionals to 
optometrists and ophthalmologists.  The eye clinic's eye doctors and 
Unite For Sight volunteers jointly provide community-based screening 
programs in rural villages.  The clinic's eye doctors diagnose and treat 
eye disease in the field, and surgical patients are brought to the eye 
clinic for surgery.  Patients receive free surgery funded by Unite For 
Sight so that no patient remains blind due to lack of funds

*What Programs Are Available?  *Fall 2007, Winter 2008, Spring 2008, 
Summer 2008.  Opportunities any time of the year.

*Unite For Sight Ghana Film Online: 

*Unite For Sight Ophthalmologists Speak Online: 

*Unite For Sight India Film Online: 

*What Do Volunteers Say?:

"After an amazing experience volunteering with Unite for Sight in Ghana 
in 2005, where I made lifelong friends, learned to face challenges I 
never dreamed I would encounter, and most importantly helped hundreds of 
people who had previously been unable to see, I could not wait to become 
involved with Unite for Sight again. The incredible experience I had in 
Chennai, India this past summer 2006 made me realize that the success of 
my first internship was not a fluke, that Unite for Sight's programs all 
over the world are strong not only in helping the medically underserved, 
but also in educating and changing the lives of volunteers.

The medical staff at the Uma Eye Clinic in Chennai were hard-working, 
welcoming, and totally committed both to caring for the patients funded 
by Unite for Sight and to helping Unite for Sight volunteers become 
comfortable in a foreign environment. Time and time again they went out 
of their way to teach us ophthalmologic skills with care and patience. 
It was a true gift to be able to learn one-on-one from excellent 
physicians about all steps in the cataract surgery process.
The men, women, and children I met at our traveling eye camps were badly 
in need of eye care, and I am grateful that we were able to help them. 
They were also lovely hosts and were excited to show us their culture. 
As they showed me where they worked and lived, I was often struck by the 
fact that their sight is important not only to their quality of life, 
but often also to their ability to provide for themselves and their 
families. It was at these times that I realized the importance of Unite 
for Sight's mission.

Without Unite for Sight, I cannot imagine how I could possibly have seen 
and learned so much as an undergraduate about medicine, other cultures, 
and my own desire and ability to make a difference in others' 
lives."--Charlotte Hogan, Georgetown University Student, Unite For Sight 
Volunteer in Chennai, India 2006 and Ghana 2005
"My time in Ghana was truly eye opening.  I now realize that there are 
people in many parts of the world who do not have access to the very 
basic necessities that I take for granted, and I now sense the 
responsibility amongst those of us with more to help those in greater 
need.  I found Dr. Wanye and the Tamale Eye Clinic staff truly 
inspirational.  Amidst the many obstacles and frustrations in providing 
eye care to the people of the Northern Region, he and the staff continue 
to labor with patience and compassion, often making personal sacrifices 
for the benefit of the patients  Their attitude has certainly given me 
something to aspire to in my future career."--Michael Chen, UCLA Medical 
Student, Unite For Sight Volunteer in Tamale, Ghana
"Through volunteering for Unite for Sight, I hoped to put a human face 
on the issues of poverty, global health inequity, and preventable 
blindness and gain hands-on experience in the fields of ophthalmology, 
optometry, and public health. In Jaipur, I accomplished all these goals 
and gained much more from the experience than I could have possibly 
imagined. I traveled to some of the most beautiful yet poverty-stricken 
locations in northern India. I saw some of the worst cases of eye 
disease imaginable and saw many of these cases cured. I made lifelong 
friends with fellow volunteers, staff members, and patients. Most 
importantly, I was able to make a tangible and meaningful difference in 
the lives of others by screening patients, communicating important eye 
health information, and attending to patients' pre- and post-operative 
comfort and well-being.

My entire experience in Jaipur was simply unforgettable, and I will 
always be grateful to Unite for Sight, Dr. Anshu Sahai, and the entire 
staff of Eye Research Centre Society for giving me the opportunity to 
step out of my comfort zone and learn more about ophthalmology, global 
eye health, and the commonalities that bind all of us together as human 
beings. This was a truly life-changing experience that made me 
reevaluate how I wish to spend my life as a scholar, aspiring physician, 
and global citizen. Perhaps most heartwarming of all were the 
expressions of thanks and praise I heard from our patients: "Everyone in 
our town is delighted with the excellent care you provide. Through your 
great work, we are now able to see you and bless you today! May you live 
long!"--Nakul Shekhawat, Vanderbilt Student, Unite For Sight Volunteer 
in Jaipur, India
"I helped restore sight to children and their impoverished families 
while working with the doctors Sinhas (Dr. Ajit Sinha, Dr. Satyajit 
Sinha, and Dr. Pooja Sinha) at A.B. Eye Institute in Patna, Bihar. The 
Sinhas and I worked from 9am to 10pm almost six full days a week. We saw 
hundreds of patients---the Sinhas saw more patients in one day than many 
ophthalmologists in the U.S. see in three weeks. We diagnosed all types 
of eye diseases, prescribed and distributed eyeglasses I had collected 
in California, and performed vision-restoring surgeries on patients who 
had been suffering for years. While our job was not always easy, the 
results were always rewarding. For the first time in my life, I felt 
like I made an immediate and meaningful impact on peoples' lives.

Yet this medical work was only a small part of my journey through India. 
Living with the Sinhas, I had the opportunity to experience what so few 
foreigners ever see: the traditional life of a modern Indian family. I 
didn't just travel to India, take a few pictures in front of a few 
historic monuments, and write off my visit as complete. Instead, I got 
to see part of the real India; I ate traditional meals with the family 
and attended a Hindu wedding. I was a minority for the first time in my 
life---the only white person in a sea of tanner faces. Having traveled 
to a state where few foreigners visit, I was confronted daily by stares 
and cultural blunders. Everyone I met, however, was more than happy to 
help me understand my misconceptions. Never before have I felt so 
isolated yet congruently welcomed. Like the contradictions evident in 
India's very nature, I felt simultaneously productive and worthless, 
significant and inconsequential. Ultimately, what I took away from this 
experience was so much more than just an advanced understanding of 

So I want to thank the organization Unite For Sight for helping get me 
to India. I want to thank the Sinhas for warmly accepting me into their 
home and work. And I want to thank the residents of India, and Patna 
especially, for making my journey so magnificent. You welcomed me into 
your country and allowed me a glimpse of its soul. Bohut 
Dhanyavad."--Leigha Winters, Stanford University Student, Unite For 
Sight Volunteer in Bihar, India

"While in India I traveled several kilometers outside Chennai to set up 
free eye camps. The most memorable camps were those conducted in the 
tsunami-affected villages of Pulicat, which we reached by boat. To spend 
a day in the life of a Indian villager was unforgettable. And to stand 
on the beach facing the Bay of Bengal exactly two years after the 
tsunami struck was a bone-chilling coincidence.

The smiles and laughter's of those village children will forever be 
embedded in my memories. Giving them a sense of hope, visiting their 
schools and homes, running together on the sandy beaches sporting new 
sunglasses-those moments are ones i will forever cherish. I have never 
been shown so much respect and appreciation for being me. To them, I 
wasn't some strange foreigner, I was simply one of them. It was such an 
honor and blessing to volunteer for these incredible individuals.

We were able to screen over 500 villagers and provide sight-restoring 
cataract surgeries to dozens, none of whom had access to eye care before 
our arrival. I helped with the distribution of prescription eyeglasses 
and sunglasses that were prescribed by optometrists. I will never forget 
the way those faces lit up with happiness when they put on the specs.  
For me, it was truly an eye-opening (pun intended) opportunity to 
experience first-hand, life in rural India.

After returning home, I reflected upon all I had seen. And what I 
realized is that the gift of sight does not have to be done by some top 
notch surgeon, it can be as simple yet powerful as just placing a great 
pair of glasses on someone's face after they're prescribed by an 
optometrist. An experience like this really makes you appreciate the 
little things in life that most of us take for granted. To those of us 
that have been blessed with sight, let us not close our eyes to the 
people of this world that are living in darkness. They are in dire need 
of our support. With organizations like Unite For Sight, together, we 
can all make a difference in the world. I am so thankful to have gone on 
this adventure because the closed eyes of my heart have now been opened. 
As they say in Chennai, "NANDRI" (Tamil word for 'thank-you') to Unite 
For Sight for changing my life, and improving the lives of thousands 
around the globe."--Hibah Ayaz, Union College Student, Unite For Sight 
Volunteer in Chennai, India


"The combination of an effective, rewarding volunteer program and 
immersion into a fascinating culture makes Unite for Sight a wonderfully 
unique program and is one that I would recommend to anyone looking to 
make a significant impact for good in a developing area of the world.  
It was a blessing to be able to provide these key services to people who 
normally would have been unable to afford them. An invaluable and truly 
touching aspect of the volunteer experience was the direct interaction I 
was able to have with the many patients who came to our clinic. Their 
genuine thankfulness for our help alone made this trip absolutely 
worthwhile."--Patrick Grimm, Yale University Student, Unite For Sight 
Volunteer in Patriensa, Ghana

*What Do Eye Clinics Say?:* "So many people tell me to thank you and 
your family each day for the help you have given by giving sight to the 
poor. Our desire to serve and poor patients desire to see would not have 
been possible without the help and support of Unite For Sight." --Dr. 
Ajit Sinha, Director, A.B. Eye Institute; President, All India 
Ophthalmological Society

"The question I have always asked myself is 'what would have happened to 
all these people who have benefited from Unite For Sight programs had 
the organization not come to their aid?' It is likely that many would 
have perished in their agony."--Dr. James Clarke, Crystal Eye Clinic, Ghana

"I must say that Unite for Sight volunteers have come to give hope to 
the people of Tamale and Northern Region, and all of us appreciate the 
wonderful work these volunteers are doing for these poor and vulnerable 
people who otherwise would not have access to quality eye care 
services.  We need you more than ever to be able to achieve the VISION 
2020 goal of the Right to Sight for all by the year 2020."--Dr. Seth 
Wanye, Eye Clinic of Tamale Teaching Hospital, Ghana

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