BC Business Magazine
In June, Vancouver optometrist DR. MARINA
ROMA-MARCH sets out on her 26th humanitarian vision project, delivering eye exams and donated prescription eyeglasses to thousands of people in Peru. She founded the Third World Eye Care Society ( TWECS) 25 years ago, inspired by her Filipino grandmother, whose village had no vision care.
It's a different kind of work travel, explains Roma-march, who's earned international accolades for leading teams of optometrists and volunteers to poor and disaster-stricken countries, from Ethiopia to Nepal to the Philippines. Each traveller packs only a carry-on bag (baggage allowance is used for supplies), and the team stays in basic (think running water and a flush toilet) accommodations.
Along with treating patients at pop-up clinics coordinated with local hosts, she and her husband, Derrick March, must anticipate crises, from clinics shutting down to supplies getting seized. Being a working mother and planning for her teenage twins' care at home adds another layer of complexity.
To supplement a team first-aid kit, Roma-march packs over-thecounter supplies like sterilizing alcohol and DEET insect repellent, antacid, antihistamines, cold medication and painkillers in her own bag. She sees a physician for vaccinations, sleeping pills (“for the flight and the first three days there”) and a travel antibiotic. Her secret weapon for countering long days on her feet: “Compression socks–i wear them every day!” To support TWECS, donate at twecs .weebly.com or take old eyeglasses to your eye clinic, Knights of Columbus or a Rotary or Lions Club.