As Francisco walks out of HELPS’ Eye Clinic and into the sunshine, he sees through tears of joy, the beautiful world around him for the first time in years. Like many Guatemalans, less than fortunate circumstances and events have left Francisco with few opportunities at creating a better life for him and his family. Having invested everything he had by bringing his savings along with his wife and kids, Francisco made the trip in hopes of having his sight restored and to once again be able to provide for the people he loves.
“We cannot change the world, but one patient at a time, and one donor at a time, the economies of scale are huge.” – Dr. Corona
Inspired by faith in HELPS, Francisco made the trip. When a person takes a giant step with no guarantees and puts everything on the line as Francisco did, who will be there to in turn give hope? HELPS International volunteers give the gift of hope for a brighter future to the lives that they touch. HELPS’ Programs foster relationships with the people that makes our programs more than just a band-aid. As HELPS President Steve Miller likes tell first-time volunteers, “It’s a leap of faith.” This leap is mutual from the patients perspective, whether it be a story similar to Fransico’s or a mother sending her child in for an operation, blind faith gives strength in difficult times.
This year, HELPS’ Medical Team out of Dallas had the opportunity to work in cooperation with an eye clinic. Dr. Ponce is an opthamologist from Guatemala City, and after studying in New York he has returned to Guatemala and is working to run a system of eye clinics that will give free eye care to the 30,000 impoverished Guatemalans who suffer from eye problems. Dr. Jorge Corona of Dallas, was the leader of the eye team that staffed Dr. Ponce’s San Cristobal Clinic during HELPS’ visit there in January.
“We cannot change the world, but one patient at a time, and one donor at a time, the economies of scale are huge.” Dr. Corona touches on how he sees the HELPS Medical Mission affecting the larger problems faced by the Guatemalan people. Along with his volunteer staff he saw (x number of patients) During there visit to San Cristobal this January. Switzerland based Alcon, is the medicine company that made this eye team possible through the donation of the eye care products used in the clinic. Beth Zemkoski of Alcon joined the Dallas Team in January for her first trip working as Dr. Corona’s Assistant. “I can honestly say that this experience has changed my life.” On the last night of the banquet, beth shares with the team her reaction to the happenings of the previous week, specifically referencing the day Fransisco’s patches were removed after his surgery. “Every single person here has a story, and for me that story was Wednesday.”
Stories like these stand as a testament to HELPS, and what can be accomplished when people take that leap, and give a little more of themselves than they thought they could. When these steps are taken from both sides, it truly shows the great strides that can be made towards alleviating poverty. When HELPS volunteers make a leap of faith, meeting the Guatemalan people half way, a chance at a brighter future is secured and lives are changed.