Sharing Resources Worldwide completed its first medical mission to Africa, as a team of five - two veteran SRW - mission ophthalmologists and three support staff - traveled to the village of Tougue in Guinea, West Africa to perform eye exams and distribute glasses, from June 21 to July 5, 2006.
Despite somewhat primitive conditions - no phones or electricity unless one has a generator - the mission was very successful, thanks to the assistance of many:
Family and friends of Hadja Kesso Dowling (who is from Tougue and now lives in Madison) and Adam Dowling (former Peace Corps volunteer to Guinea)
. Sight Savers International
. Peace Corps
. Helen Keller International
. The Lions Foundation of Wisconsin, which provided eyeglasses for SRW to distribute
. Local church groups, Lions Clubs, civic groups and individuals, who provided financial support for the mission.
The value of goods and services SRW provided to the people of Guinea during the two-week mission was approximately $134,000. The team performed 585 eye exams in Tougue. They distributed eyeglasses to 420 people and referred 90 patients to Sight Savers in Guinea for cataract removal. One child came to the clinic with a foreign body in her eye, which was causing significant pain. Our physician was able to remove it, thereby preventing the likely outcome of permanent damage to her eye. Our ophthalmologists diagnosed several patients with glaucoma and referred them to a facility which can treat them and restore their vision. In addition to hands-on eye care, SRW was able to donate to Tougue's host hospital a variety of medications and suture material which will save many lives in the coming months.
When a mission trip is completed and the numbers are in, it is always gratifying to see the total values of goods and services delivered. The five members of this team would tell you they are satisfied with what was accomplished in such a short time. But when you think about your own vision, you realize that it's hard to put a monetary value on the ability to see. There is no price tag for the joys of working with your hands, seeing the smiles of your loved ones, or watching the sun set over the horizon. The people of Tougue share this universal feeling, and their appreciative comments showed the truly priceless nature of what this mission team did.
It's satisfying to know that we were able to bring such valuable service to Tougue. But there are other outcomes, which benefit us all and were evident in comments made by the people of Tougue as the mission came to a close. Not knowing much about SRW, they observed that even though we could have sent donations or material things to them, we choose not to do that and instead we traveled there with our equipment, at our expense, and worked with them to help their own people.
The lines were long each day of the clinics held in Tougue, Guinea.
Aissatou has her eyes examined.
Dr. Bechtel exams patient during eyeglass mission.
Never before had a mission group come to serve the people of Tougue.