Patricio Had Never Seen His Youngest Daughter

June 2016 | Patient stories

By Kate Bryant

Former Vice President of Development

When is the last time that you thought about where your cup of coffee comes from? The country it was sourced from? Or the individual people who picked the beans? It’s one of those things that we can so easily take for granted. Not too long ago, one of SEE’s volunteer doctors had a truly heart-warming experience in one of the premier coffee growing regions in the world.

In November 2014, one of our volunteer surgical teams, led by Dr. Jeffery Levenson, returned from a program in Oaxaca, Mexico. While Dr. Levenson was examining the patients, he met Patricio, a 40-year old coffee farmer who was blind from cataracts. He had arrived at the clinic guided by two of his friends.

Dr. Levenson later recounted that Patricio initially struck him as very stoic and quiet. After his eye surgeries, however, he surprised the whole medical team by bursting into tears! When asked what was wrong, he told his story to Dr. Levenson, and asked that he pass it along. Eighteen months previously, he had lost the vision in his right eye, and his left eye followed suit eight months later. It was devastating to him, because, as a coffee farmer, he needed to be able to see to provide for his family. He was a father of four girls – ages 18, 16, 14, and 10 months. Worst of all, he had never even seen his youngest daughter clearly!

When Patricio learned about the upcoming SEE clinic in Oaxaca, he immediately made plans to get treated. But then the road to Oaxaca washed out. Undaunted, Patricio’s friends were determined to help him and accompanied him on a nine-hour walk to get to the highway, where they would get on a bus to the SEE clinic. When the bandages came off, he wept because he knew his ordeal had paid off. He would be able to see his wife and daughters again, see his baby girl for the first time, and be able to provide for his family. Not long after the surgery, the local clinic received a package from Patricio, which turned out to be – what else? – coffee beans! The clinic staff tells us it was some of the best coffee they had ever tasted.

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