When I first found out that I was going to Malawi, Africa I knew this trip would be an amazing experience. This time, instead of providing eyecare and eyeglasses to people less fortunate (which is what we did on our trip to Costa Rica in March of 2015), we taught new optometry students at the Mzuzu University. Teaching at the university allowed us to help provide SUSTAINABLE eyecare for the 20 million people of Malawi. Thanks to funds from the Rotary Club of Cochrane, Canadian Vision Care, our Patients and the community we had a team of 6 people (Dr. Tom Wilk, Dr. Michele Naruszewicz, Dr. Tony Wong, Dr. Cindy Shum, Dr. Lindsay Copeland and myself) who did an amazing job and had the pleasure of spreading their knowledge to these students for 5 days of classes. We had also done 2 outreach programs where we went to primary schools to help provide direction to the students in giving free eye exams to the kids and faculty.
At the University we were split up in 3 teams of 2, Dr. Tom and Dr. Michele, Dr. Wong and Dr. Shum and lastly Dr. Copeland and I. We rotated through the 3 levels of Optometry Students and each of us had specific subjects to teach. My specialty Is everything to do with the glasses including Frames, lenses, Adjustments, Repairs, Measurements and much more. It was great to have the opportunity to show them that aspect of eyecare considering they do not have many volunteers with that type of experience and skill set so they have not had the opportunity to learn that side of the industry yet.
Malawi is Beautiful Country with Amazing people. The kindness and appreciation we received during our stay there could not have been any greater. We stayed at a beautiful Camp called Umunthu Camp in Mzuzu with AMAZING food prepared mostly by the Owners Andreas and his wife Farzana. They even had Flushing toilets there!!! (Very hard to come by in Malawi) After 37 hours of travel on 3 different flights it was very nice to have a warm welcome with food and drinks prepared for us. After leaving Mzuzu we traveled Makokola Retreat for a long-awaited beach day and we had the privilege of visiting an orphanage called “Sara’s Children” Built by Allan Jones with Canadian Vision Care to play with all the children ages 3-5 years and provide them with a very special chicken and rice dinner. We spent most of the day with them and had a fantastic time getting to know all the little ones and was very nice to provide a decent meal for them considering they only get a big meal like that about once a month or so. It was very difficult saying goodbye, but I know It will not be forever.
This trip has gotten me a lot more interested and involved in what Canadian Vision Care has accomplished and I am looking forward to continuing contributing my time and efforts to making a difference.
This has been one of the best experiences of my life. Once again, I would like to thank all our patients, The Rotary Club of Cochrane, Canadian Vision Care, My Team, Shawn from Zeiss Canada and of course Dr. Tom Wilk and Dr. Michele Naruszewicz for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to provide Sustainable eyecare for a people in need. I can’t wait for the next trip!