Look out

In­mates help­ing less for­tu­nate with glasses.

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - edi­tor@ad­ver­tis­ernl.ca BY JOR­DAN MALONEY SPE­CIAL TO THE AD­VER­TISER

In­mates at the Bishop’s Fall Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre are help­ing those less for­tu­nate im­prove their qual­ity of life.

Lions In­ter­na­tional’s Re­cy­cle for Sight pro­gram col­lects and re­cy­cles used eye glasses to dis­trib­ute to peo­ple in need. Glasses col­lected in New­found­land and Labrador are pro­cessed on site at the cor­rec­tional cen­tre in Bishop’s Falls.

“Glasses come in, they’re cleaned, they’re pro­cessed,” said Jacque­line War­ford, clas­si­fi­ca­tion of­fi­cer at the fa­cil­ity. “We take out any garbage (for recycling), and then all glasses are read, bagged and tagged for pre­scrip­tions.”

Glasses are shipped to dif­fer­ent parts of the world or used lo­cally for var­i­ous mis­sions and clin­ics in the prov­ince, she said.

“It gives (in­mates) a sense of pride or a way to give back.”

The pro­gram, which started in April 2016, has pro­cessed 126,510 pairs of glasses so far. Two in­mates are cur­rently com­mit­ted to the pro­gram, and as in­mates are dis­charged or re­leased, oth­ers are trained to process the glasses.

“They de­vote what­ever time they want,” said War­ford. “It’s a vol­un­teer thing. It gives them some­thing to oc­cupy their time and skills in or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

War­ford had an op­por­tu­nity to see the im­pact of their work first hand when she trav­elled to Haiti in fall 2017, where more than 840 pa­tients were seen and over 500 pairs of glasses dis­persed.

“It’s truly amaz­ing, to see some­thing that’s viewed as garbage to some­one, to see the process from that point to us,” she said. “Clean­ing, mak­ing sure (glasses) can be used for some­one else, and then see­ing them on the eyes of some­one who’s go­ing to ben­e­fit for the next four or five years – it’s truly an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Brad Moss, Lions Club chair of sight con­ser­va­tion and work with the blind, has been on five foreign mis­sions, two specif­i­cally in Nicaragua.

“I got in­volved by mat­ter of hap­pen­stance,” he said. “I in­her­ited a stock pile of eye glasses and wasn’t quite sure what I could do with them be­cause we had no way of get­ting them off the is­land at the time.”

Lions Club mem­bers col­lected the glasses prov­ince wide and the heap grew to over 30,000 pairs.

Along with the Bishop’s Falls Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre, Moss said Team Bro­ken Earth, a vol­un­teer driven med­i­cal re­lief ef­fort, was also help­ful.

“They ended up ask­ing me to go and run one of th­ese clin­ics,” said Moss. “And it was very suc­cess­ful, so we’ve done five trips in the last 30 months and three lo­cal clin­ics as well for marginal­ized cit­i­zens.”

Moss spoke about the suc­cess of the most re­cent mis­sion to Nicaragua.

“We broke all pre­vi­ous records for pa­tients seen,” Moss said. “We saw 974 cit­i­zens (mostly el­derly). They re­quired com­pre­hen­sive eye tests and most of them had never had one in their lives. To take a guy that’s 70, and make him see like he’s 20, it comes as quite a shock to some peo­ple.”

The youngest pa­tient helped in Nicaragua was just six months old.

“It’s trans­for­ma­tional for a lot of th­ese peo­ple,” Moss said. “They’re quite ap­pre­cia­tive, they want to know when you’re com­ing back. Peo­ple tear up and well up when they can see their fam­ily mem­ber or their loved one for the first time prop­erly in decades. It’s quite emo­tional.”

The next mis­sion is in the plan­ning stages and will be to Port au Prince, Haiti this Septem­ber with the hope­ful team com­pris­ing of doc­tors, nurses, spe­cial­ists and sur­geons.


Brad Moss, Jaque­line War­ford and mem­bers of their team pose with in­ter­preters and lo­cal Leo mem­bers.

Jacque­line War­ford ad­min­is­ters an eye exam to a se­cu­rity guard as her in­ter­preter trans­lates.

An in­mate at the Bishop’s Falls Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre pro­cesses a pair of glasses.

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