Posted by Rhonda Panczyk
Results of the recent humanitarian Eye Care Mission in Kenya Africa -
The January 2019 humanitarian Eye Care Mission in Kenya Africa was truly a Rotary international project, encompassing 3 countries: USA, Canada, Kenya; 4 Rotary districts: 6380, 6360, 5450, 9212; and 11 Rotary clubs: Tilbury Ontario, Blenheim Ontario, Brighton Colorado, Livingston Sunrise Mi, Clarkston Mi, Saline Mi, Hartland Mi, Rochester Rotary Mi, Rotary Club of Motorcycling Rotarians, Lakeshore Mi, and Utumishi Nairobi Kenya.
Eye care for Kenya was conceived and led by Rotarian Dr. Nelson Edwards to provide eye care for those in need in the Bahati constituency located in Nakuru Kenya, with the project hosted by the Utumishi Rotary Club of Nairobi Kenya. The team consisted of 23 people including 6 optometrists: Dr. Edwards, Livingston Sunrise Rotary, Dr. Lee Halsted, Hartland Rotary, Dr. Amiee Bronson, Dr. Jane Gillogly, also doctors Robin LaValley and Christina DalPorto returning for a second mission with Dr. Edwards.
Trip participants also included local Rotarians from D6380 Mark Jaffray, Pam House, Mary Sloan, PDG Jeff Lichty, PDG Gerry Jackson, Lois Halsted, Jennifer White, Barry White, Monica Vanovermeer, Rhonda Panczyk; from District 6360 Sally Ernest; and from District 5450 Steve House. Also joining the team were Debbie Jackson and Brenda Dziedzic.
This group of caring individuals truly put SERVICE ABOVE SELF into action! Over 5 ½ days of clinic this team registered patients taking a basic health/eye history, checked visual acuities, performed eye pressure readings, basic refractions, and dilated eyes when required – all to prepare each patient for their eye exam. Doctors then provided complete eye examinations for health issues as well as the final prescription for eye glasses which were dispensed as needed. Medical problems requiring further care were then referred into their health system. This care was provided at three different locations in order to reach those without means to travel, including Kiamania, Bahati and Githioro, all within a 30 mile radius.
  • We traveled with nearly 5,000 pairs of glasses to accommodate required prescriptions, sunglasses, readers, and medications and would like to acknowledge those that helped make this possible: The Wisconsin Lions Foundation, our source for the large library of eye glasses.
  • Clarkston Michigan Rotary Club provided the funds to purchase glasses and readers.
  • Brighton Colorado Rotary Club provided the funds to purchase an auto-refractor designed for mobility dramatically increasing the number of patients screened.
  • Alcon, Inc. provided medications totaling $126,000 (retail value) for both doctor’s exam requirements and drops dispensed to patients for continued care. Numerous patients diagnosed with glaucoma and unable to receive follow up care throughout the year will now be able to preserve their sight.
  • And finally, Maui Jim. A high-end USA sun glass manufacturer donated $100,000 (retail value) of fashion sunglasses for protection from the hot African sun. 
We are grateful for, and appreciate, each and every donation as well as each volunteer that made it possible to provide care to 1,998 people in need. We also thank the “Hands of Mercy”, a local Nakuru group for their help in many areas, particularly translation! And a special thank you to Honorable Kimani Ngunjiri, Member of Parliament, instrumental in moving this project forward as our liaison with the Kenyan government. 
We are also VERY happy to announce that due to our team leader and the Brighton Colorado Rotary Club we were able to donate 2 Eyenetra auto refractors to Dr. Mir Mossadiq of Nairobi, and medical officer Matthew Kuria of Bahati, along with the remaining eye glasses, helping to provide sustainability to the eye care project throughout the coming year.
AND in addition to the eye care mission, Dr. Edwards delivered 70 prosthetic hands, donated by the Ellen Meadows Foundation, to Dr. Mossadiq – with the first one dispensed at our Bahati clinic!
Blenheim Ontario Rotarian Terrance McNaughton was also able to bring Rotary youth exchange into the project by working with local Kenyan Rotarians towards bringing their students into the exchange program.