Pies for Eyes…This project was so named because the kids at Shawnee Mission High School in Prairie Village Kansas, under the direction of SHARE Director (and my good friend) Pat Kaufman sold pies to pay for the shipment of the over 200 pairs of eyeglasses the high school collected for the people of Tchekpo. SHARE is a program that teaches High School kids the importance of volunteering, and matches projects to kids who are interested in volunteering. The Peace Corps being the ultimate example of volunteerism, Pat thought this would be a good project for her group.
We began the Pies for Eyes project in October. Over six months ago the wheels were set in motion. It began with me letting Aloughba (my Tchekpo community partner) use my reading glasses to look up a translation in the dictionary. She had been frustrated that she couldn’t read the words and then astonished that she could see them so well when she put my glasses on. I relayed this story to Pat Kaufman and told her that I thought there was a great need for eyeglasses here in Tchekpo. One sentence, that’s really all it took…..pat wrote back with a plan to collect and ship glasses to us.
|Lt to rt - Rachel, Jon, Mathew, David|
|Claude - Our Doctor from the Tesvie Hospital|
|Claude, David, Rachel, Dove - The staff|
And so it was in Tchekpo, Togo on the day we had our Eye Clinic. This was a day that I felt an energy swell up in myself and my colleagues through a collective and pure force of goodwill. It was more satisfying than any drug, or any amount of money. It was addictive. I would want to duplicate the feeling. My collegues, I know felt the same way. They each texted or called me, several times after our day had ended, just to tell me how happy they were, and that they wanted to do this again. No other explanation was given. I could feel their joy.
|Even the Chief and his Wife got new glasses!|
fun to see the look on their faces as they tried on glasses and could see better. I had thought that the reader glasses would be the easiest to fit and that they would just end up being the most beneficial, but we found that the thick, coke bottle-like glasses were often extremely helpful to really old people who hadn’t been able to see much of anything for maybe decades. They were the most fun to watch. We’d do the eye exam and try on a couple really thick glasses and you could just see them being able to see things they hadn’t seen in a very long time. People left very happy, very excited.
|A good days work - the entire staff|
|David and Rachel - They worked SO hard|
Some moments in life are so beautiful and so pure that the presence of God or the presence of a power greater than ourselves becomes indisputable. Most, if not all of us have been lucky enough to experience moments like this. These moments of revelation cannot be planned and seldom do words do them justice. Rather than a destructive force of a tornado or hurricane this energy comes from collective action and thoughts of good will. This day helped us and the people of Tchekpo to see and experience the world a little more clearly. A collision of unselfish and loving actions that gathers momentum. It is powerful. A truly perfect storm, one might say.
My thanks to all the people who helped and were part of this energy. Especially to Liz DeBacker, Pat Kaufman and the students of Shawnee Mission High School in Prairie Village.