Dr. Christine Chatten of Kimberley Vision Care fitting glasses for a patient in Lima, Peru. (TWECS/Submitted file)

Dr. Christine Chatten of Kimberley Vision Care fitting glasses for a patient in Lima, Peru. (TWECS/Submitted file)

Local Optometrist gives the ‘gift of sight’ to Peruvian people

Dr. Christine Chatten recently returned from a mission in Peru where she saw over 3,800 patients.

  • Jul. 25, 2019 12:00 a.m.

Those who wear glasses, or have even had their eyes checked in Kimberley, have most likely met with Dr. Christine Chatten who is the Optometrist at Kimberley Vision Care.

Chatten just returned back home after nine days in Lima, Peru, where she was checking the eyes Peruvian people and “giving the gift of sight”.

Chatten explained that the mission was possible through the Third World Eye Care Society (TWECS), which was established in 1995 and has provided restored vision to over 100,000 people in 17 countries all over the world.

“I truly enjoyed being part of the TWECS project in Peru,” said Chatten. “Our team came together with Optometrists, Opticians and volunteers from Canada and the U.S., [with] a common mission to bring eye care for those who do not have easy access to health care.”

She explained that she’s been wanting to go on a mission such as this for a long time and she also brought her daughter Sydney Wilson along.

“I brought my daughter since I feel it is important [that] our children learn other cultures, volunteer and see the difference and positive impact you can make on other people’s lives,” Chatten said.

She adds that her and the team of 20 worked in the foothills of Lima for the nine days, seeing over 3,800 people and providing 2,500 pairs of eyeglasses.

In a blog post on the TWECS website, Chatten wrote the following about her experience:

“Today there was a 76 year old lady I examined, which touched my heart. She made myself, Sydney and the interpreter cry. Telling us how she hasn’t been able to see for years and how happy she was that we were able to help her. She was having difficulties seeing money properly when working in the market,” wrote Chatten.

She explained that the living conditions in Lima Peru are completely different from that here in Canada.

“I was amazed by he friendliness of the Peruvian people, the lack of resources and the extreme poverty in the areas we worked,” Chatten said “We would set up in schools or churches and many of the people we saw live in extreme poverty with very limited resources. No running water, no sewer, no infrastructure of any kind.

“It really puts into perspective all our comforts we have at home such as clean water, clean air and proper washrooms.”

She says it was a rewarding experience, especially for the patients who had never put on a pair of eye glasses before. She hopes to return on more missions in the future.

“The kindness and gratitude of the Peruvian people makes our work so worthwhile. The people were very friendly and our team was great to work with,” she said. “I’m lucky enough to work in a profession that I can give care to those without it. There’s a real purpose in what you’re doing.”

For those wanting to help out, you can donate your old eye glasses to future projects by dropping them off at Kimberley Vision Care.

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