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.

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