To join us and give sight now, visit our campaign page here.
By Paolena Comouche
Content Writer/Special Projects
Although the consistent changing of worldly conditions has halted the work of thousands of organizations across the globe, SEE International has remained committed to our goal of providing quality eyecare and serving our global community in any way we can. As it has become more important than ever to support each other and give back to our communities, our team has been working diligently to ensure our humanitarian efforts continue through this COVID-19 crisis. While many of our programs are currently paused for the safety of our patients and team members, our staff has continued to work remotely, finding adaptable ways to carry on with our mission.
Even with our offices being temporarily closed, SEE has been able to offer continuous support to our local community in various ways. In addition to donating 200 masks and 800 pairs of surgical gloves to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, our Santa Barbara Vision Care program has provided critical services to essential workers on a case-by-case basis. Most recently, a truck driver named Rafael sought our help after losing his glasses, as he was unable to drive and thus unable to work without them. With his entire family depending on his salary, Rafael was desperate to find a new pair as quickly as possible. After hearing this, the director of our Santa Barbara Vision Care program immediately contacted our partners at Goleta Valley Optical, who provided him with a brand-new pair of glasses within just a few short hours.
SEE’s U.S. Programs have also continued to help patients in their time of need. In Santa Monica, California, 74-year-old Robert recently received a pair of glasses with the help of SEE and the VSP Global Eyes of Hope Program. Additionally, an uninsured patient from Bradeton, Florida, reached out to SEE for help with getting an eye exam and a new pair of glasses after being unable to cover the costs on his own.
In light of the pandemic, families across the nation are experiencing economic hardship after losing their jobs and health insurance. Without a stable income, the stress of financial burdens outweighs the luxury of seeking vision care services. As a result, SEE has been working to expand our U.S. efforts by inspiring like-minded humanitarians to join us in providing vision-care services to those in need. By increasing our domestic efforts, we are meeting the higher demand for humanitarian eye care in our own communities right here at home, ensuring our friends and neighbors do not have to choose between paying their bills and having their sight. If you are a SEE doc or optometrist/ophthalmologist in the U.S. that is interested in joining this expansion effort, visit our campaign page here!
As COVID-19 related closures have disallowed our medical volunteers from traveling outside of the U.S., SEE has acclimated to restrictions and found additional ways to continue our international work as well. In 2016, we began providing necessary medical supplies to our trusted partners in India to support vision care services independent of our clinical trips. This ensures that our partners can provide sustainable, high-quality vision care year-round. Realizing the immense success of this model, we began implementing direct-supply support in Nepal in 2019. Now in 2020, this has allowed us to continue our international efforts without having to travel, as we have increased this direct supply support to both India and Nepal so that they can continue providing essential eyecare during this challenging time.
In addition to providing accessible eyecare around the world, SEE is highly invested in ophthalmic education. Every year, our organization hosts Manual Small Incision Surgery courses for ophthalmologists so that they may learn this valuable technique directly from our dedicated volunteer medical professionals. In an effort to continue providing these training courses without the ability to hold them in person, SEE has been planning to host a virtual MSICS course. In consideration of safety during the pandemic, SEE has held preliminary discussions and began the research process to determine the most plausible and effective ways of implementing a virtual course for those interested.
Despite the many obstacles brought upon by the COVID-19 outbreak, SEE International has never lost sight of our mission. As always, it is our goal to relieve the burden of preventable blindness and make eyecare accessible around the world and right here at home. Even during these difficult times, we are grateful for any and all opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those in need. With your help, we can keep this vital work going and lend a helping hand to the world in a time when its needed most. To join us and give sight now, visit our campaign page here.
Since establishing this series of programs, SEE International has continuously revisited Vietnam to restore sight from 1992, to most recently in 2019. With this long-term relationship, we have continued to change countless generations of families within the country throughout the years.