After months of planning and fundraising, the optometry graduate students in Pacific University’s AMIGOS Eye Care Program are almost ready for their upcoming service trips to China and Senegal in December.
The graduate optometry students will be part of a team of other graduate students and doctors that will help provide eye care to underserved areas in China and Senegal. Teams going on these trips will provide students a great opportunity to use their optometry skills learned in class to help people in other countries who need eye care.
One of the China team leaders, Wanzhi Li, states that she is especially eager for the trip since she sees it as an opportunity to help people in her home country.
“The fact that I can go back to my home country and that I do speak Chinese fluently makes me more comfortable to help people who really really need eye care services,” Li said.
One of the problems that the teams will help with is providing eye care for the large population of people in China who are suffering from myopia. Both Li and another China team leader, Kathy Nguyen, hope their team will be able to examine and help as many people as they can on their trip.
“The opportunity to help or provide vision care in another country is a great reason of why we are going on the trip,” Nguyen said.
One of the Senegal team leaders, Milena Stephanovic, says that going on these trips to underserved countries helps to provide a new perspective of optometry.
“In the past I have done a lot of things that are just different, so I wanted to go experience something different and see optometry from a different view,” Stephanovic said. “Working somewhere where people are not used to eye care is different and I wanted to experience that.”
A main goal for the teams going to China and Senegal is to continue to visit and serve the country’s community.
A Senegal team leader, Amir Ghanipour, believes that being able to revisit Senegal again for another trip in the spring will help the team better understand the community’s needs and what they can do to help.
“We want to return to places we have been before so we can keep up continuous care,” Amir said. “The goal is to build a community that can sustain itself so they won’t have to always be depended on us.”