Training and Immersion Impacts Alumni
Unite For Sight's globally-competent alumni are the change-makers of today. Driven by their idealism and enthusiasm, they can bring innovative ideas and fresh insights to the table, building a better world for all. They embrace diversity of ethnicity, religion, age, gender, culture, cognitive ability, and life experiences. Their important skills include acceptance of and respect for different cultures, an ability for cross-cultural communication, and a comprehensive understanding of global health. They can synthesize academic knowledge from comparative fields and use an interdisciplinary, culturally-appropriate approach when tackling global issues. Equipped with these skills and ethical dispositions, Unite For Sight's alumni are ready to make a difference in the world. 99% of alumni rate their experience as "excellent" or "good" on a scale of "excellent," "good," "satisfactory," and "poor". More than 85% rate their experience as "excellent".
Videos and Films Produced By Global Impact Fellows
"Volunteering with Unite For Sight was the single most rewarding experience of my professional education as a PharmD/MPH student. Unite For Sight teaches students about the importance of developing ethical and sustainable public health interventions through experiential learning, and this volunteer experience has immensely shaped my professional goals as a future pharmacist and public health practitioner. I would highly recommend the Global Impact Fellowship to any student interested in a quality volunteer experience in international health."
"Unite For Sight’s international voluntary program is one that allows passionate young adults to see the reality of international development, and to open their minds to the possibility of serving the underprivileged while providing them the opportunity to support quality eye care in areas that need their contributions." Read Sueyan's complete narrative at "Volunteering in Ghana: Hands-On Realities to International Development"
"Volunteering with Unite for Sight was one of the most formative and influential experiences in my life. The 7 weeks spent in Ghana solidified my interest in global health and development and my desire to work in developing countries in the future. During my time in Kumasi and Accra, I participated in outreaches as a volunteer, and I was also able to conduct my own research project that allowed me to interact directly with cataract patients. Participating in research gave me a new perpective on healthcare and exposed me to the difficulties and frustrations associated with the research process. Despite these obstacles, it was extremely satisfying to contribute to the discourse on global healthcare delivery. In addition to the work that I did, I was also able to experience the beautiful and diverse culture of Ghana, from the wildlife at Mole National Park to cooking my own fufu with a local family. More importantly, I was able to interact with some of the warmest and most generous people I have ever met, and to experience a lifestyle that is completely different than my own. I will always remember the wonderful Ghanaian people and the motivated volunteers that made my experience so meaningful."
"I absolutely, positively LOVED my experience with Unite For Sight in Accra, Ghana in March 2010!!! Just thinking about it makes me want to go back! I traveled at the end of my 4th year at medical school with my dad, Dr. Richard Prince, a practicing ophthalmologist in Pennsylvania. Together and with the wonderful eye staff at the Crystal Eye Clinic in Accra, we examined, refracted, and performed surgeries on hundreds of patients during our stay. Of course, eye care is my passion, but it's even more incredible to bond with the people in Ghana. I still keep in touch with the ophthalmic staff from Ghana to date. It's been a lifelong dream to become an ophthalmologist and work with my dad. Now, nearly completing my residency in ophthalmology, my dreams have broadened, and I look forward to traveling the world with my dad, providing eye care to those in need with UFS. Thank you, Unite For Sight, for providing this amazing opportunity!"
"The nearly 3 months I spent with Unite For Sight in Ghana were among the most inspirational in my life. The Ghanaian doctors, nurses, and support staff are an incredibly devoted, knowledgeable, and gifted group of healthcare providers and health educators, and the Ghanaian people welcome visitors to their happy, happy homeland with open arms and bright, wide grins.
The Unite For Sight model of pre-departure training combined with on-the-ground volunteer work cannot be beat for anyone interested in ethical global public health and healthcare delivery. What’s more, as a veterinarian (DVM, MPH), I am daily surprised to find myself benefiting from lessons I learned while volunteering with UFS: from cross-cultural interactions in my clinic, to improved health education, to sitting back and appreciating when things run on “GMT” (Ghana Mean Time). I cannot recommend this program more highly."
"The month I spent in Ghana was truly eye-opening and an experience that I will remember for a lifetime. It was remarkable to witness firsthand the number of lives that were changed because of the work of the Crystal Eye Clinic and Charity Eye Center teams. Not only did they provide eye care to those who would otherwise not have access to it, but they were truly passionate about the work that they were doing. I was inspired by the time and dedication that they put into providing eye care and saw the incredible difference that they made in the lives of others. Also, after seeing numerous patients everyday and observing surgeries, my decision to pursue a career in optometry was solidified. I absolutely loved my time in Ghana and hope to return after completing my degree to be able to further aid the clinics."
"It has been two months since I returned from Ghana, though many of my memories are vivid enough to feel as if I only came home yesterday. After this whole experience, I feel as if my desire to become a physician and serve others has increased a thousand fold...I am definitely looking forward to the future and feel more motivated than ever to continue my involvement in global health." Read Maggie's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Ghana"
"The UFS experience was unique for me since I was able to accompany my daughter, Lauren. I had been on several missions previously, but never with my daughter. I was superbly impressed with the enormous impact it had on her to understand (and experience first hand) the cause of the world health problems especially in the area of eyesight in the impoverished world. The satisfaction gained from providing simple, economical, advanced and humanistic medical care in African countries cannot be underestimated or taken for granted. I am indelibly touched by the kindness and hospitality and the selfless and humanitarian work of the eye clinic; these are fond memories which are incredibly heartfelt. Also kudos to Dr Clarke."
"My six weeks in Ghana exposed me to the challenges and rewards of working in a low resource area as a health professional, and my experiences have shaped my activities and goals in medical school. The training I received through Unite For Sight prior to going abroad was incredibly beneficial while I was volunteering and continues to be of value in my current global health endeavors. The clinic staff in Ghana was phenomenal; they welcomed me with open arms, helped me navigate the new cultural terrain, and enthusiastically shared their experiences working at the clinic. In addition, I made lasting friendships with the other volunteers who positively contributed to my learning and experience in Ghana. I highly encourage everyone who is able to volunteer with UFS!"
"My experience with Unite For Sight was absolutely profound and I returned from Ghana, forever changed, with memories that will last the rest of my life. Interacting with local patients and healthcare professionals, as well as with other volunteers and Unite For Sight staff, made my experience wonderful and unique. I was able to apply learned skills and face new challenges on a daily basis. I quickly grew to love the country and culture, and enjoyed the fact that I was making a difference and improving people's lives. I learned to understand the role and importance of sustainable healthcare delivery and its mechanisms in the context of eye care in Ghana, as well as the role of effective communication in global public health. I also gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in optometry, eye pathology, and ophthalmic surgery."
"Participating in Unite for Sight Global Impact effort was one of the most incredible and amazing volunteering experiences. There is nothing comparable to being physically in Ghana to experience what the locals do to help their own people. Their positive attitudes and their friendly characters are infectious. You gain greater insight and appreciation to their culture and the many challenges the locals face day to day. I am grateful to have this opportunity to join in this effort."
"My time spent with Unite For Sight in Ghana was a highly valuable experience and has helped shape my career by enhancing my passion for international eye health. Having never worked in a developing country before, I was able to contrast the eye care delivery with what I had been helping to provide in the UK. I saw the differences and similarities, and areas that we could learn from from Ghana (such as the high volume and turnover in cataract surgeries) as well as how Ghana could learn from us. I saw a diverse range of pathology in Ghana that I had not seen in the UK before, and learned the basic principles of refraction. I also was able to understand the steps of Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SICS). I was really impressed by the efficiency and transparency of the UFS programme as well as the ethical principles that volunteers abide by. I hope to build upon my time spent in Ghana as a Global Impact Fellow in the years to come. Volunteering as an ophthalmology resident trainee was a fantastic opportunity."
"Unite For Sight is a uniquely conceived, well-run, and well-executed organization that combines the strength of our first world resources -- fundraising and a pool of well educated, motivated volunteers -- with a self-sustaining, established network of local surgeons and health providers that will continue to grow and enhance the quality of care for a population in need on a global scale." Read Dr. Calvin Eng's full narrative.
"Working alongside with Unite For Sight was a unique and tremendously rewarding experience. Prior to my trip, I learned many important points regarding different cultures and the ramifications of providing care in Africa through the modules provided by Unite For Sight. I was fortunate enough to share my experience with my daughter (then a junior in college), and together we felt a strong bond in that we were able to improve not only the patient’s sight, but their quality of life. The people of Ghana, Africa were extremely appreciative of our efforts. Upon our return, we both felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I would recommend volunteering through Unite For Sight for anyone who wants to reach out and help those most in need of care."
"My Unite For Sight experience as a member of the Global Impact Lab research division was truly inspiring and impressive. Coming in with the strong goal of learning more about vision health through a self-designed research project, I chose UFS under the keen notion that choosing a trustworthy and efficient global health organization was crucial for my learning experience. The UFS staff and partners in Ghana not only supported my mounting research efforts and needs as a student researcher, but also gave me opportunities to experience all and beyond the nuts and bolts of exploring various types of vision health outreach projects outside the clinical settings, while working with the knowledgeable local members shoulder to shoulder between the valleys and over the mountains. Dr. Michael E. Gyasi and his staff were amazing, and they are my lifetime advisors and friends even at this very moment."
"I remember there was one old lady, who unexpectedly stood up among the other patients to testify about how much Unite For Sight had transformed her life. She had cataracts that were blinding here gradually, and thus made it impossible for her to work to support her family. She had been a beneficiary of Unite For Sight’s program, and had received free surgery that had restored her vision...The Global Health Volunteer program is one you put a lot into, but then you come out feeling that you have gotten so much out of it. This program solidified my interests in delving into the healthcare industry as a career. This to me is an exciting industry, and there is so much to be done. I personally admire the principles and philosophy behind Unite For Sight’s work, that’s why I accepted whole-heartedly to represent them on Princeton University’s campus." Read Daniel's complete narrative at "Reflections on Global Impact Volunteering in Ghana."
"My experience volunteering with Unite For Sight was extremely rewarding and fulfilling. The friends I made while in Ghana will always have a special place in my heart. I was able to experience a new and exciting culture and feel that I was personally making an impact in the lives of others. I cannot describe the feeling of traveling to remote villages with glasses and medication, and seeing those very same people having corrective eye surgery the next week! Knowing that I was able to help change those lives forever has really impacted my life choices as well. I thank Unite For Sight not only for helping those in need, but also for providing such a meaningful volunteer experience."
"As a Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow, I witnessed the tremendous need, demands, and challenges in administering health care to underserved communities. I routinely met people suffering from eye problems that are treatable and even preventable. I was extremely gratified that a simple pair of reading glasses or a quick cataract surgery greatly improved the quality of life for many Ghanaian people.
"Imagine slowing losing vision over time, becoming blind for 10+ years, and then having it totally restored after a 10 minute medical procedure. This miracle happened everyday at the clinic where I volunteered. The more patients I screened, the more sight restoring surgeries I saw, the more involved I became. After grasping the local language (Twi) from daily lessons both self-taught and from locals, I conducted full visual acuity tests in Twi. I then initiated a video project that teaches language requirements for volunteers. I am humbled by the work that the local health care workers perform every day. These outreach programs are very powerful and spark further change. One of the local health care professionals, who is now a friend of mine, became a cataract surgeon, and has now founded a nonproft in his own country of Liberia. I recommend Unite for Sight to everyone thinking of volunteering abroad. Unite for Sight was life changing for me and was one of the most important and influencial experience that I have had."
"I had been involved with some eye care missions over the years (with other organizations) in Mexico, Central and South America, but I really didn’t have an appreciation for what is needed to create a sustainable program until my experience with the Unite For Sight Program in Ghana last August. This was truly sustainability in action, as exemplified by the work of North Western Eye Clinic in Accra in conjunction with Unite For Sight. I found the outreaches to be pretty grueling and work intensive, but this is what is required to have a successful program. After seeing 100-200 patients on any given day, and witnessing the cataract surgeries on patients that I had referred, the positive results of this approach were obvious; the barriers to accessing the needed health care had been demonstrably overcome."
"After volunteering domestically for several years with Unite For Sight, I was fortunate enough to fully experience the organization's impact while volunteering in Ghana. By far the most important thing I discovered is how important people are in making experiences worthwhile and enjoyable, from the community members to the clinic staff to the fellow volunteers. One huge thing I was hoping to learn from volunteering with Unite For Sight is if I wanted to pursue further education in global health or optometry. Although the work with Unite For Sight was based around eye care, it wasn't the type of work I was doing that has helped steer me more toward optometry, but rather just how much I discovered I love working with people."
"My summer experience in Ghana allowed me to experience first-hand patient interaction which is essential in my future healthcare training; the global context of this interaction added a unique enhancement to my undergraduate work. Personally, helping individuals in such a way was amazing. I could truly see happiness on their face and it was incredible. My experience in Ghana solidified my desire to continue my course work and ultimately work in the medical field. While working as a volunteer with Unite for Sight, all of my study abroad goals were met and a few more! I made this happen by being very involved while abroad. I was flexible, patient, dependable, and enthusiastic. I immersed myself in the Ghanaian culture and took part in local traditions. This was a wonderful experience that will be of great professional and personal significance as I venture into my future."
"It was a regular day during a semester filled with biochemistry and other assorted sciences when I sat down at my computer to check my email. My flooded inbox contained many items that I expected to find from professors and friends of mine. There was one message, however, that really grabbed my attention. The Schreyer Honors College was informing their students of an organization called Unite For Sight that battles blindness around the world by partnering with local eye clinics to provide socially responsible global health to some of the world’s poorest countries. At the time, I had no idea that this simple email would change my plans for the summer and, ultimately, the way I view medicine...If you’re planning on working with Unite For Sight, be ready for a little bit of magic to happen. An open mind, some hard work, and the ability to be flexible really can enable you to help make a difference in the world, one set of eyes at a time." Read Erik's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Tamale, Ghana"
"What a day fortune granted me when, perusing through the vast library of information on the Internet for medical volunteer experiences, the name Unite For Sight popped onto my screen. There was a great deal of other programs I had read about, and it had been a long day of learning as much as possible about international programs, NGOs, and the like, but the seriousness and professional attitude of the program kept me reading on. Very quickly UFS became my reality. It had all the elements I thought to look for, such as actual volunteering instead of medical tourism, far away places, and a seemingly well developed strategy. It also had a lot of elements that I did not think or know to look for, including extensive training, a fellowship, research, a responsive administration, and global health certificates. Unite For Sight certainly is, folks, a complete and wholesome volunteer package. And yes, it will change your life! Be prepared!" Read Arch's complete narrative at "Hot Days and Bright Hearts in Tamale: Reflections on Being a Global Impact Fellow"
"Volunteering as an ophthalmologist in Accra, Ghana, was a valuable experience that I would highly recommend. Each day was filled with new and rewarding opportunities. I spent two weeks during May involved in the Unite For Sight program there. A number of the days involved outreach to poorer communities outside of the center of Accra, working along side a local staff optometrist, screening patients in temporary centers set up in churches and other fairly crude but adequate facilities. During the outreach, we interacted with local people, the local volunteers, community organizers and Chiefs, and the patients, who were extremely appreciative of the attention and help. Each day brought us to a different location, screening people with different languages and ethnic backgrounds. We were supported by a number of other Unite For Sight volunteers, mostly college and graduate students interested in healthcare and public health careers. Spending constructive time with these young, motivated student volunteers was also rejuvenating. I planned my own volunteer program so that I overlapped with one of my own sons, a college student working as a medical outreach volunteer, so that we could work together." Read Dr. Jim Patalano's complete narrative at "Reflections by an Ophthalmologist on Volunteering in Ghana"
"Volunteering with Unite for Sight in Ghana was a life-changing experience. Through this capacity, I learned a great deal about Ghana and about effective global health delivery models relating to eye care, but with the ability to extrapolate to medicine in general. Eye health is a very large concern in many parts of the world, and to be a part of a team aiding those in need was an honor. After being in Ghana, I cannot stress enough the importance of each volunteer's fundraising efforts to treat cataracts. Unite for Sight in an incredible organization, and the opportunity they offer college and medical students is, well, life-changing. I had the time of my life, learned more than I could have imagined, and made very good friends with people whom I would have never otherwise met. To all those thinking about participating in the Global Impact Corps, I strongly encourage you to go for it. You will have an dramatic, positive effect on many people and will have an amazing experience in the process." Read Robert's complete narrative at "Volunteering Abroad in Ghana"
"From discussions with Ghanaian ophthalmologist Dr. Wanye, I learned about Ghana’s nationalized health care, how the government health care system pays medical personnel, and the role of public and private care. Through my Unite For Sight internship in Ghana, these additional opportunities to learn about health care fostered a greater foundation for me as I pursue a career in global health...I have gained more confidence in the pursuit of my career goals, and I look forward to future medical work experiences abroad." Read Nicole's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Tamale, Ghana"
"The three weeks I spent volunteering with Unite For Sight as a Global Impact Fellow in Tamale, Ghana were some of the most interesting and rewarding of my life, combining the opportunity to learn about life in Ghana, a country new to me, experience the challenges of improving global health and do concrete, useful work to help others." Read Sophie's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Ghana"
"My experience with Unite For Sight ended up being so much more than I expected. I went to Ghana with the intentions of helping others and exposing myself to a lifestyle entirely different than my own. Working with the staff at Crystal Eye Clinic and getting to know the people of Ghana was very eye-opening and rewarding; it was inspiring to see how hard everyone worked, while still balancing a peaceful, laid-back lifestyle. The people of Ghana truly cherish their life, their health, and pray for every day they are given. It was humbling to see, and definitely impacted my outlook on life for the better."
"[T]he true gem of the whole experience is the Ghanaian people themselves. I have traveled now to 27 different countries, met all kinds of people, and I can verily attest that Ghanaians are among the warmest, most genuine peoples I have had the pleasure to come across." Read Barron's entire narrative at "Reflections on Global Impact Volunteering in Ghana."
"During my time working with Unite For Sight in Ghana, I was inspired by the remarkable efforts of local ophthalmologists and staff to provide both local and remote villagers with access to proper eye care in the form of exams, prescriptions, and free corrective eye surgeries. As a Global Impact Fellow, I had the pleasure and the privilege to work alongside these dedicated professionals on a day-to-day basis." Read Patricia's complete narrative at "Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Ghana"
"During my time in Ghana, I worked with three eye clinics in Accra and one eye clinic in Kumasi. The relentless energy, optimism and enthusiasm exhibited by the doctors and their teams were unbelievable and truly awe-inspiring. I have never witnessed such selflessness and commitment to and love for work. I was also very impressed by the integrity of the people that I worked with – some of their personal stories were incredibly moving and explained their professional ardor. Ernest – an optometrist working for the Crystal Eye Clinic in Accra – for instance, won a scholarship to attend one of the best Ghanaian high schools, where he would sometimes go hungry because he spent his money on textbooks instead of food." Read Vera's complete narrative at "Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Ghana"
"I am currently a 4th-year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine applying to ophthalmology residency programs. It has already been two full years since I volunteered abroad in Ghana as a Global Impact Lab Fellow in Accra, Ghana for two months in the summer of 2009. So much has happened since that time, and I have benefited tremendously from the knowledge and experience I received from being a Global Impact Fellow in Ghana." Read Andrew's complete narrative at "Reflections on Global Impact Volunteering in Ghana"
"The month that I spent in Ghana at Crystal Eye Clinic and Northwestern Clinic had an incredible impact on my goals as an aspiring physician. The doctors, assistants, and volunteers were so dedicated to improving the quality of eye care in their community, and I hope to always exhibit the same dedication in my own career. Having such a life-changing effect on people’s lives and seeing their immense gratitude was inspiring and, as I enter medical school this fall, I hope to continue my involvement in global health. This experience gave me a great foundation for a medical career and I want to promote the same sustainable health care that I saw first-hand with Unite for Sight."
"This volunteer experience reaffirmed and enlightened my passion for public health at the global level. By working alongside the dedicated Ghanaian personnel, I was able to witness firsthand how we, as educated public health providers (no matter the origin), can physically repair the gaps in the global healthcare system one patient at a time. The graciousness of the patients and the excitement you see when patients of any age feel more empowered, self-sufficient, and valuable once their health has been addressed and ‘repaired’ is what makes this volunteer experience as irreplaceable to me as it has become. Ghana is place I would recommend anyone to visit – whether an interest in medicine sparks the trip or not – it is a place of such natural beauty, non-stop smiles, unique food, and great sports. By offering an unprecedented approach to global healthcare delivery, Unite For Sight is aiding in Ghana’s growth towards health and prosperity – I could not be happier that I was able to be a part of that!"
"Volunteering abroad with Unite For Sight is a unique opportunity to serve others and gain experience in the care of patients. As a medical student volunteer, I was able to view a variety of medical and surgical therapies and was also able to conduct research on diabetes and cataracts during my trip to Ghana in 2012. My third international medical experience was with Unite For Sight, and I believe that the organization is centered on patient care and cultural competency. They emphasize programs that are self sustaining and that promote the long term well-being of the involved community. I think that there is something for everybody with Unite For Sight, not just medical professionals and students. In my group, we had a variety of volunteers with diverse talents and experiences that our team utilized well, from board certified ophthalmologists to high school students, and each was able to learn from their time in Ghana and contribute in their own way. Trips like the one I took for Ghana are life changing, and while there is a lot of work required to prepare for such an experience, I recommend it strongly to all interested parties."
"Unite For Sight provided me with an opportunity to acquire, through direct perception, an understanding of global health practices in a developing part of the world. By participating in outreach programs, I witnessed what was once read from textbooks, beginning day one! Simultaneously, a collaboration was formed to conduct an epidemiological research study. Our topic was carefully chosen from a small yet significant list of REAL life problems from the eye clinic that required needed examination. To this end, we were able to concentrate our efforts into discovering hidden obstacles that were never before observed. Using this revelation, we were able to share this information with clinics in the field so that positive changes would be made in policy and approach, and finally publish - so that other practitioners would learn, and faithfully further its work." Read Daryl's published research at http://ispub.com/IJE/11/1/1588
"Your exposure and learning on the Global Impact Corps Fellowship is not limited to the day-to-day operations of the diagnostic, pharmaceutical, and surgical care you help to provide. In fact, the experience broadens very quickly-- almost from the first moment you arrive-- to present you with a raft of social and environmental determinants that affect the sight of our patients long before Unite For Sight can intervene. Learning to use these determinants to inform our team's clinical interventions was truly beneficial for me as an aspiring physician--- I can only hope to bring that holistic way of thinking to my future patients years down the road."
"I spent six weeks of the summer working as a Global Impact Fellow in Tamale, Northern Ghana, where I volunteered at outreach programs and clinics across twenty-three different villages, four hospitals and at least five districts. This experience was so immersive and insightful that it spanned from tackling the eye health of local communities to delving deep into the heart of the local culture and its influence on health care provision." Read Samuel's complete narrative at "Memories from Tamale, A Life-Changing Experience"
"Even with the elevated poverty rate in many areas of the country, Ghanaians are among the happiest and friendliest people I have ever experienced. The amount of gratification from the villagers was more than I could have ever expected, and it was sometimes difficult to not become emotional. I am confident that the 500 glasses I donated have been efficiently put to use by those that needed them the most. I will never forget the optimistic attitudes of the people in the villages, as they have inspired me to be more thankful for each day that passes. Although my time in Ghana was short, it was an absolutely unforgettable experience." Read Kayla's complete narrative at "Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Ghana"
"Explaining in words my feelings for Unite For Sight and the people of Ghana would be an impossible feat. My time spent in Africa has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Above all, meeting the people and learning their culture was the most heart warming aspect of the trip. Just a smile and a wave would have the kids screaming and grown men and women wanting to be your best friend. They truly appreciated us being there and doing our part to help out their communities. I still keep in touch with my friends there today, and I can only hope that someday I will be able to return to meet them. If nothing else, I will surely be working with Unite For Sight again. As a future optometrist, there is nothing more challenging and intellectually stimulating than to be put in that sort of setting. It has prepared me to finish school back in the US, and also to begin optometry school with more confidence that this is surely what I am called to do for the rest of my life."
"The dedication of the clinic staff, the ophthalmologists, and Unite For Sight really made me proud as a volunteer to be part of such amazing work. I've shared so many laughs, tears, smiles and more with the wonderful Northwestern and Crystal Eye Clinic teams and accompanying volunteers. It left me wanting more, so I returned a year later, and it was just as exciting and another immense learning experience. What I learned could not be taught, only experienced: the meaning of dedication, the value of human life, and above all, I learned and saw how I dealt with situations totally alien to my experience in practice. I'm so grateful for the chance and insight that I have gained. I learned more about myself than I could have thought. Thank you, I truly left a changed and better person for it. I would recommend volunteering with Unite For Sight. If you're thinking about it, do it, do something amazing and gain from it, like I did. Read Maya's "Reflections on Volunteering Twice in Ghana"
"At Stanford University, I had studied a great deal about inadequate access to healthcare and the health disparities still existing in the world today; however, such issues did not become real for me until I witnessed the debilitating effects of such problems first-hand in Ghana. My Unite For Sight internship opened my eyes to the work that remains to be done in developing countries, and showed me the importance of establishing sustainable projects that empower individuals to help their local communities long after the volunteers are gone." Read Joyce's "My Experience Volunteering in Tamale, Ghana"
"On an average day of surgery, Dr. Wanye worked nonstop for six hours, seeing 10 patients and operating on 13 eyes with mature cataracts. The procedure itself was twenty minutes and involved using basic tools, many of which I was confident I could find in my medical pharmaceutical lab kit from high school. On one of the outreaches we encountered an eight-year-old girl who was blind. She had been born with bilateral cataracts. In the states, the cataracts would have been removed right after birth, never given the opportunity to mature. Dr. Wanye had to perform surgery for merely forty minutes to give the girl the gift of sight. Without the service and support of Unite For Sight volunteers thousands of Tamale Ghanaians would be suffering from preventable or curable eye conditions." Read Farhana's "The View From Ghana"
"Most of all, I met some of the most incredible people in Ghana. The ophthalmic nurses I worked with and spent much of my free time with regularly had the greatest dedication to the organization: two of the nurses left their family in Liberia to work long hours in Ghana. The other nurse, Dennis, left his job in Great Britain, where he had studied and practiced and his wife is studying, to return to his homeland with his children. It is their dedication to the mission of Unite For Sight that makes the organization so successful in Ghana, and I was honored to work with them." Read Carolyn's complete letter to her funders at Princeton.
"My most precious belongings in my college dorm room are the two paintings of Ghanaian women that I bought in Accra. Each time I see these paintings, I am reminded of the incredibly rewarding and stimulating experience I had in Ghana last summer while volunteering with Unite For Sight as a Global Impact Fellow in Accra and Kumasi." Read Naima's complete narrative: "Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Ghana".
"With my strong interest in the operation and functioning of clinics abroad, my experience with Unite For Sight has been remarkable. Unite For Sight works very efficiently and effectively at extending eye care to multitudes of patients each week, and serves as a model for other nonprofit organizations by incorporating both idealistic and practical methods to ensure the greatest success." Read Julia's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Accra, Ghana"
"In contrast to studying public health in an academic setting, Unite for Sight allowed me to gain perspective on the way that public health is actually done in the field. As a result, I became so interested in community health that I went on to work for the Pan American Health Organization on a children's environmental health project at the U.S./Mexico border. I am interested in combining my interests in global health with my background as a scientist in my future work to better understand health disparities and strategies to help communities that most need it. I'm an undergraduate in the chemistry department at Princeton. I plan on applying to either MD or MD/PhD programs after Princeton."
"My Unite for Sight experience was extremely unique and unforgettable. I learned a lot about life in Ghana by working directly with local staff and patients, eating Ghanaian foods, learning the Azonto dance, and just by living in Ghana for a few weeks. While at the clinic, Dr. Baah and his family could not have been more welcoming. They ensured that we felt right at home, and we were treated with a lot of respect. By traveling into the rural areas of Ghana I was able to see first hand the impact of Unite For Sight on improving the lives of many people. On the bus ride back to Hohoe, the faces of the people who underwent surgery are something that I will never forget. The gratitude and happiness were overwhelming. This experience furthered my understanding of global health, and my desire to provide health resources to those who do not have the same access as we do."
"When I first volunteered with Unite For Sight, I went with my dad. His uncle, my grandmother's brother, had passed away not long ago. He was a history professor, learned in the Netherlands, before he lost his eyes in the last ten years of his life. It was in homage to him that we made our trip to Ghana. I remember how Dr. Kyei had my dad sit next to him while he treated patients. I won't ever forget how my dad got up and led me over to his side behind the curtains. "I want you to see this." I sat down quietly in front of a man not yet forty years old who was all but blind in both eyes and struggled to catch what light he could from the sides, turning his head to try to see the man speaking to him. If he had sought treatment only a few years earlier, he would have saved his now doomed photoreceptors. 80% of blindness is preventable, but it struck me now as more than a figure. I might speak of wonderful times in Ghana, but they do say that hindsight is always 20/20. And that is why this most painful memory of this patient is the one I keep, because it is the most honest, the most urgent, and cruel though it may seem, the most enlightening."
"Although I was only in Ghana two months, I felt like a part of the Unite For Sight community by the end of my stay. The fact that the daily outreaches typically set up on a monthly rotation continue year round with or without the flood of summer volunteers was astounding to me...Although my time in Ghana was ultimately short and my individual impact small, being a part of Unite For Sight is long term, and the experience is one I would not trade." Read Abbie's complete narrative at "Reflections on Global Impact Volunteering in Ghana."
"The unparalleled experience with Unite for Sight in Ghana provided me with a deeper understanding of how medicine and public health are inextricably linked. I hope to incorporate the tools and knowledge I garnered through this volunteer opportunity as a future healthcare provider."
"I cannot express the value of all that I learned and experienced both in and out of the clinic. As I performed visual acuity tests on countless individuals and gave glasses to even more, these patients received improved sight while my own eyes were opened to the disparities in health care across the world, and also to the rich variation between worldwide cultures. Living with the Sinha family led to my complete immersion in daily life in Bihar, and I certainly miss the architecture I witnessed, the foods I tried, and the traditions I observed. My experience as a Global Impact Fellow in Bihar has encouraged me to continue to expand my understanding of worldwide cultures and global health care issues, and augmented my desire to remain engaged in clinical settings both at home and abroad." Read Lauren's complete narrative at "Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Bihar"
"On my first trip with Unite for Sight as a Global Impact Fellow in Bihar, I observed by first cataract surgery. In the month following, as a volunteer in the private and charity clinics and OR, I fell in love with ophthalmology. As a volunteer, I had the privileged to observe the inspiring Sinha family of ophthalmologists and saw the direct impact of their work on the community. Fathers were able to return to the work force to provide for their families after surgery, complications of conjunctivas were quelled with simple education and antibiotics, and children who may have had limited vision for life were now able to see and play. On more than one occasion, they were called to attend to patients with complications from botched surgeries or improper treatment from outside sources. The physicians established trust and alliance with their patients and practiced good medicine. They demonstrated the importance of a good clinical exam, and I saw first hand, the challenges and rewards of the field. Working with Unite for Sight twice in Bihar continues to change the way that I think about the world and my role as a future ophthalmologist. Unite for Sight allows a student to take practices from the classroom and textbooks into real life experiences in a thoughtful and effective way. I highly recommend this program for students interested in medicine, ophthalmology or optometry as a brilliant introduction into the field or to change the way one thinks about health policy." Read Kristin's complete narrative at "Reflections on Volunteering Twice in Bihar"
"Working at the Kalinga Eye Hospital in Orissa was a unique opportunity for me to interact directly with patients and local healthcare providers, and learn more about public health delivery in the developing world...While working as a Global Impact Fellow, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Kalinga Eye Hospital entrusted the volunteers to the extent that we were able to take ownership of these projects and function as representatives of the hospital in these critical initiatives. I think that it speaks volumes of the trust they have in the volunteers and the appreciation they have for our unique skills and experiences. I hope to build upon these experiences and to remain involved in public health. Rather than just treating individual cases, public health providers have a unique opportunity to work at a larger scale to improve healthcare access to the world’s most underserved populations, and working for Unite For Sight has only furthered my desire to become involved in global health." Read Benjamin's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Ghana and India"
"Volunteering at the Kalinga Eye Hospital and Research Centre (KEHRC) in Orissa, India was a powerful experience for me. It was fascinating to be immersed into the rich Indian culture and to experience healthcare in India, both of which differ from that in the United States. I learned a great deal from my time in India. Whether I went to an outreach camp or remained in the hospital, every day was a learning experience. I enjoyed building relationships with the hospital staff and learning about their families, their interests, and the work they perform for the hospital. I have been interested in pursuing a career in medicine since I was in high school, yet the new experiences I encountered through my participation in the Unite For Sight program have significantly influenced the career path I would like to take." Read Stephanie's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Dhenkanal, Orissa, India"
"Volunteering as a Global Impact Fellow in Chennai, India was an unforgettable experience and one that has vastly influenced my future career goals. As a medical student, I have been exposed to a wide array of patients, yet, I have never once seen the level of uninhibited gratitude exhibited by the people who attended the weekly eye camps. It was incredibly heartwarming to see the almost immediate impact we were making on their lives, by providing such simple services as handing out reading glasses. Though I have always wanted to engage in outreach efforts as a physician, my experience in India has greatly strengthened this desire. The unity and support of the people that I worked with at the Pranav Eye Clinic were incredible, and they truly made me feel instantly part of the team. Unite for Sight and Pranav Eye Clinic have a fantastic partnership and it is my hope that this relationship continues to be nurtured and developed, so that future volunteers may have the chance to experience this unique opportunity just as I have."
"Working with Unite for Sight was truly an eye-opening experience for me, literally and figuratively. As a pre-medical student looking to perform international health care delivery work in my career, volunteering with Unite For Sight taught me valuable lessons on working within and alongside international communities to provide care for the populace. The training I received in preparation for my trip was very thorough and prepared me well for my time in India, and even in situations where I was unsure, the staff of the AB Eye Institute of Patna, Bihar, India were very skilled, accommodating and patient, and I learned much from their expertise. Working alongside them with Unite For Sight to make a positive, visible and concrete impact on people's lives was an honor. I highly recommend anybody who is interested in global health to volunteer with Unite For Sight."
"My experiences with Unite For Sight in Chennai, India were absolutely rewarding. I had many life changing experiences in India. I knew clearly that English was not spoken by most people living in rural areas of India; it was fascinating, however, seeing people responding perfectly to my hand gestures and other instructions—from counting numbers to controlling a crowd. I learned a lot from Unite For Sight before and during my time in Chennai, India. The unique and profound training offered to me prior to the program made my experiences incredible. Nothing surprised me in India because the training taught me almost everything earlier. The training increased my level of professionalism which I used in daily activities. While in India, I participated immensely in daily eye camps in rural communities; shadowed local ophthalmologists during cataract, pterygium, and lasik surgeries, assisted in the distribution of prescribed reading glasses, and directed patient registration and visual acuity examinations. An interesting part of my experiences was practicing phaco surgery on a goat’s eye. The ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses and fellow volunteers were all people who made my experiences phenomenal. During my tenure in Chennai, India with Unite For Sight, I gained insightful knowledge about healthcare challenges in the developing world. I left India with much enthusiasm to continue working with Unite For Sight to help meet these challenges. The satisfaction of this program to me is not only gaining insight in global health, but also it has broadened my perspective across the field of medicine and cross cultural communication. I highly recommend Unite For Sight to anyone in any discipline interested in making a difference in his/her community. Asking about my experiences again? EPIC!!"
"The Sinha family welcomed me into their home, and introduced me to eye care in India. They are lovely people, and shared not just their work, but their stories, laughter and social engagements. They work tirelessly in their clinic and surgical center. In addition, they do a number of outreach and screening clinics to bring eye care to the people and attract them to seek treatment for their eye conditions.
As a cataract surgeon, it was my goal to learn manual small incision cataract surgery (SICS). This is the technique primarily used in underdeveloped countries and on medical trips, and relies on much less technology than techniques we use in developed countries. I was able to do enough surgeries to become comfortable with the technique while I was there. Since then, I have been able to used my new skills in other poor countries. I started an outreach program in a Native Indian community near where I live. I had previously thought that the lack of resources in the community would make it impossible to do an effective exam. The Sinhas taught me that even with a basic exam, trust, word of mouth and relationships can be formed, which has ultimately improved eye care in this community. I would encourage other physicians to take advantage of and learn from such an experience. With an open mind, we can all learn to be more generous in our own communities and beyond!"
"My experience with Unite For Sight has showed me that there are many challenges in the path to making healthcare accessible to global communities. But, my experience has also taught me that it is possible to overcome these challenges. And this has ultimately helped me reaffirm my decision to become a physician. My trip has inspired me to use my newfound knowledge to serve underprivileged communities." Read Samyuktha's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Orissa, India"
"Volunteering at Kalinga Eye Hospital was eye opening (pun intended)! What other summer experience grants you the opportunity to delve into independent research while gaining a comprehensive understanding of systematic hospital care and contributing to the success of incredible ophthalmologic care? Unite For Sight offers undergraduate students interested in global health, ophthalmology, pediatrics, or sustainable care an incredibly unique opportunity. Thank you, Unite For Sight and Kalinga Eye Hospital & Research Centre, for making this fellowship possible!" Reach Shoshanna's narrative, "Journey in Dhenkanal"
"As a first-year college student applying to be a Global Impact Fellow, I had a general sense of the importance of global health and knew that I wanted to pursue it further. Working with Unite For Sight at Kalinga Eye Hospital and Research Centre gave me the best possible opportunity to really learn what it means to work in global health at a ground level. While the pre-arrival training prepared me well to understand the basics of eye health and the practice of global and public health, my stay at KEHRC took this even further as a hands-on learning experience, essential to truly understanding the field. I was able to shadow and work with ophthalmologists, paramedics, and members of the administration, giving me a chance to appreciate not only the medical aspect of the KEHRC’s work, but also the broader way in which it functioned to make quality service accessible to all, especially to those patients who were really in need. Talking to the patients recruited through outreach camps who were now finally able to function independently without burdening family members (apart from being less at risk of other health issues, and from being able to see, which we take for granted all too often), I realized what a difference KEHRC and Unite For Sight were making, and how much I was already able to contribute to this movement. My experience working with Unite For Sight has been a source of inspiration for me, cementing my decision to pursue a career in global health, and driving me to continue to actively contribute to the cause by reminding me that there’s so much that each of us can do at any point in our lives to help out."
"My experience at Kalinga Eye Hospital and Research Center (KEHRC) as a Global Impact Fellow representing Unite For Sight was both a culturally challenging and rewarding experience. From a global health perspective, my experience at KEHRC allowed me to see first-hand the challenges that face a grassroots campaign for accessible health care in a rural region. These included economic factors such as finances and education of the constituency. To greatly expand healthcare access, there needs to be cooperation between local governments, healthcare systems, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as is exemplified by Unite For Sight’s program in Orissa, India.
Also during my time at KEHRC, I learned the importance of a good attitude in positive-impact work. Whether it was conducting patient satisfaction surveys through the aid of a translating staff member, or watching television with them before dinner, meeting and interacting with the staff emphasized the importance of a positive attitude that must be kept in a healthcare environment. My experience at KEHRC not only shed some light onto the work that NGOs and healthcare authorities carry out, but it also was a unique cultural experience for me. My time at KEHRC will never be forgotten, as it is an integral portion to how and why I want to engage in the healthcare industry."
"My experience in Chennai with Dr. Senthil and all the other ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses, and doctors I worked with was fantastic, and I recommend it highly to anyone who wants to get involved in global heath activism. I learned an incredible amount about clinical practice, eye care, surgery, and how to be involved in the community. There are a lot of nuances that you just don't understand until you go there and figure it out yourself. India, of course, was an amazing country to visit, and I certainly had a lot of great stories to tell when I came home. Unite For Sight was a great agency to work with, and I came out feeling that not only had I contributed to a good cause, but also that I had learned a great deal about global activism as well."
"My time at the Kalinga Eye Hospital was nothing short of amazing. Experiencing what a 15-minute procedure can do to transform someones life was very inspiring. The hospital staff were incredibly dedicated to their roles which translated to the work the hospital and partner organizations do to meet the needs of the local communities. I had read about the local communities prior to going, but experiencing the area was so much more then I could have imagined. Visiting the rural eye camps were a very powerful experience. Seeing the challenges the community faces really helped me put global health theories and practice into perspective. Spending time with the paramedics was very enjoyable to learn about the local culture, customs and food. The lessons I learned I will carry forever. I am very grateful to have had this experience."
"I gained a vast basin of knowledge not only about eye health, but also on the healthcare infrastructure, patient interactions, and management systems of the developing world. Reading about health issues in the news or in class became stark reality during my summer in Dhenkanal, and I now aim to reinvigorate my efforts to study and contribute to the field of international health. Over the course of my career, I hope that I can one day return to India as a doctor and remedy the health inequalities that remain ever-present on a global scale." Read Palavi's complete narrative at "High Impact Volunteering Abroad in Orissa, India"
"We were very sad to say goodbye to the Sinha family. They have given us the opportunity of a lifetime. We learned so much from each and every one of them. No doubt they will be lifetime friends." Read their detailed daily blog about "Volunteering in Patna"
"There was nothing abstract about it. It was the real deal, the third world pressing into my first-world mind, touching some internal spot which was the locus of dreams and career plans. Because of the context in which I encountered the profound need of Danapur, I did not come away with a sense of hopelessness or fatalism. Rather, I came away with the strong sense that it was necessary for me, like the Sinhas, to take active part in fixing the problems that I had seen. Indeed, I think it is impossible to spend two weeks with the Sinha family without coming to understand that a single, motivated person is absolutely capable of changing the world." Read Emily's narrative about "My Experiences Volunteering Abroad in Bihar, India"
"My trip to India with Unite For Sight was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Witnessing the desperate need of some of the world's poorest citizens ignited my passion for international humanitarian work that I have continued since that trip. Without Unite For Sight, I would not have discovered my love of medicine and infectious disease prevention, the fields I will be working in after graduation in June." Read Leigha's narrative about "My Experiences Volunteering Abroad in Bihar, India"
"Unite For Sight gave me the wonderful opportunity to volunteer in Bihar, India with the Sinha family of ophthalmologists whose energy and enthusiasm was highly contagious. Along with Unite For Sight, the Sinhas have ignited my interest in public health and enthusiasm to take an active role in my community. I hope that sharing my positive experiences with my community will raise awareness about the need for vision services in developing countries and inspire others to become leaders in global change as well."
"My experience in Patna was an incredible experience. I enjoyed being part of the UFS program in the effort to help eradicate preventable blindness in the world. I also enjoyed working with and learning from the Sinha family, as they were incredible doctors and great teachers. I also enjoyed being immersed in Indian culture and look forward to returning to India to assist with visual care in the future." Read Patrick's "Daily Diary"
"There are so many wonderful things that I can say about my experiences with Unite For Sight and the time I spent in Patna, India. The impact that these people have made on my life will never leave, and there will always be a soft spot in my heart for this city." Read Kirti's complete narrative at "Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Patna, India"
"There were so many things that we did and saw here that opened my eyes to the plight of healthcare access. The Kalinga Eye Hospital and Research Center (KEHRC) is a novel and admirable hospital that truly gives the word altruism meaning. The hospital runs rural eye camps where the paramedic staff and physicians go to the most remote and underdeveloped areas of Orissa and give free eye care...There are no words to describe how it feels to see the first patient go through the process and have his or her sight restored. Yet, that indescribable feeling still remains with me even as I write this. It goes without saying that we are eternally grateful to the KEHRC and Unite for Sight for giving us such a wonderful opportunity." Read Komal's narrative, "Power of Visionary Work"
"My time at Kalinga Eye Hospital proved to be eye opening and inspirational. Eye opening in the sense that I realized that healthcare complexities in developing countries entailed more understanding and cooperation than I envisioned. Inspiration seeped in during times when I would see the patients undo their cataract bandages to see clearly after a long spell of blurry vision. The entire system in which the Kalinga Hospital operates with support from Unite For Sight increased my appreciation for their effort and literally the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into making the hospital operate on a daily basis. I would recommend the Global Impact Corps Program any day, and I thank Unite For Sight and Kalinga Eye Hospital for making this journey possible. Last but not least, I thank not only the paramedics in Kalinga, but paramedics everywhere in remote areas like Dhenkanal whose courage to leave home and become a paramedic are motivation for everyone out there trying to make a difference in the healthcare field." Read Anushka's narrative, "Reflections on Volunteering in India"
"My time at Orissa was easily the most important experience I had before entering medical school. Before medical school, I struggled with insecurities. “Am I good enough, talented enough, strong enough for a job in healthcare?” After coming to Orissa, my entire view re-shifted into the following: “Can I love others enough to keep at it, no matter how hard it gets?” This value was taught to me by the amazing girls I befriended, the Oriyan paramedics who worked at the hospital. I got the better end of the deal: I taught them English, and they taught me about life. We would come upstairs to their quarters after a long, exhausting day and still excitedly be talking about the surgeries we witnessed and the amazing patients we got to speak with. They have such a simplicity of lifestyle and such a humble view of their own role as part of the care team. They displayed tremendous strength to attend to patient after patient without batting an eye, for hours, and be laughing and happy and smiling and ready to wake up and do it all over again, day after day. They inspired me deeply, and I hope that I can live up to that example as a future doctor.
"My trip to Honduras was a great learning experience and it will be one I will never forget. Before I went, I had a solid interest in Spanish, but never was able to really put my Spanish speaking to the test outside of classrooms and textbooks. In Honduras, I spoke as much Spanish as possible while interacting with the local community and was able to enjoy and appreciate the culture so much more because of it. When I returned to the United States, I kept on speaking Spanish, even at times when I didn’t mean to, because it was subconsciously burned into the back of my mind. Someday in the future, I want to return to Honduras as a doctor and work with local clinics. This experience is one I will always hold on to and I know that it will help me greatly in my future as a doctor." Read Aron's complete narrative at "My Experiences as a Global Impact Fellow in Honduras"
"I would recommend working with Unite for Sight for anyone, even if you are not in ophthalmology/optometry, or medicine for that matter. It is really rewarding to have such an impact on people." Read Justin's Blog
"Arriving in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a friendly staff member of the clinic was waiting for me with his 4x4 truck called “El burro” (the donkey) to take me to my hotel. I didn’t quite know what to expect during this time. I had just finished my applications to optometry school and quickly found myself in their busy clinic. My Spanish improved greatly, while at the same time learning how to assist in eye exams. I witnessed cataract surgeries that I personally raised money for prior to my arrival. I found that the people I was surrounded with in the clinic where some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. The patients were extremely grateful for receiving eye care and for our hard work.
I use this positive experience as a stepping-stone to continue global healthcare through my optometric career. I felt more prepared having this patient care experience going into my first year in optometry school and look forward to more!"
"My Unite For Sight experience as a volunteer in Honduras has been instrumental in infusing a profound passion for global health into my heart. I came away from that summer more optimistic than ever. The ecstatic grin that dawned on the face of one little 9 year old girl when she received clear vision for the very first time was all it took to convince me that Unite For Sight indeed lives up to its name. The reality is that with the massive disease burden in rural Honduras, there simply are not enough resources to fix every condition and every patient, which can be frustrating. But the bottom line is that with the humble resources they have at their disposal, these folks at the ZOE Eye Clinic in Honduras are doing a heck of a lot of good.
My most cherished memories may be those made during the long hours spent gallivanting all over the Honduran countryside, crammed in the back of the "safari-mobile" with my fellow inspiring volunteers and the fun-loving eye doctors and staff, telling stories and jokes on the way to and from brigadas. Also of note is that my Spanish proficiency doubled over the course of my 6 week trip, mostly due to my constant face-to-face interaction with local docs and patients.
My Unite For Sight experience impressed upon me a powerful truth: that with small coalitions of dedicated, positive, compassionate people, willing to sacrifice a great deal of time and income for the sake of others, anything is possible. UFS's model of global health work in Honduras is making an enormous and immediate impact on the quality of life of thousands of Hondurans. The UFS ethos of locally-rooted, sustainable change is one I will carry with me into the Peace Corps in Ecuador, and eventually in my future career."
"I volunteered in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with Unite for Sight in July 2011 and also in Accra, Ghana three summers ago in June 2008. These were both two of the most AWESOME experiences of my life and allowed me to explore new cultures, countries, and make life-long friends from all over the globe with whom I still keep in touch and occasionally meet up. I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to participate in this amazing program and to work with the people in Ghana and Honduras. After these two trips, I am positive that I want to specialize in ophthalmologic surgery, and that I want to work abroad a couple of months each year when I’m older as a volunteer physician, hopefully with Unite for Sight!!"
"I volunteered with Unite For Sight in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in June 2011. I was incredibly lucky to work with the talented optometrists and ophthalmologists at ZOE Eye Clinic, and the experience amplified my passion for social justice and solidified my interest in public health work." Read Lydia's complete narrative at "Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Honduras"
"I am a second year medical student at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. I previously graduated for Michigan State University with a bachelors of science in Human Biology. Volunteering with Unite for Sight was an eye opening experience. I learned a great deal about global health as well as the cultural differences in Honduras. The experience has potentiated my desire to work in increasing global health, specifically eye care."
"My Unite For Sight trip to Honduras introduced me to global health. My subsequent work as a Campus Representative allowed me to communicate what I had learned to various groups of alacritous students and to working professionals. Before this, my areas of scant expertise were limited to my coursework in Psychology and Spanish. Now, I am conversant enough in global health to be able to engage in interesting conversations with people who know far more and have done far more than I. The delivery of care to poor people in indigenous isolation is a problematic issue in which I foresee future work for myself. There is still much for me to learn, as well." Read Jim's complete narrative at "Reflections on Volunteering Abroad in Honduras"
"My time in Honduras greatly influenced the way I view the medical and social culture in Latin America. I learned about different forms of health care and doctor-patient interactions. However, Honduras also influenced the way I see myself in context of a global community. I was forced to question the culture in which I was raised and how it related to that of a Honduran. I began to recognize what aspects of my culture I want to accept and which I want to change. I embraced the Honduran culture over the month, whole-heartedly... well except for the meat-eating, I still came out a vegetarian. Yet, I became a happier, more vibrant and relaxed person, better able to recognize and confront the disparity I see in daily life. I learned that I can stand independently, proud, but identify with, lean on, and utilize the community around me. Honduras not only expanded my medical horizons, but allowed me to grow in ways I never imagined."
"My experience with Unite For Sight is one that I will never forget. It opened my eyes to not only patient care and interaction, but also the barriers that patients face worldwide with respect to receiving care. It didn’t take me until I returned home to recognize and appreciate my experience, for I felt it from the first moment I spoke with the first patient at the clinic. Additionally, I was able to practice my Spanish and gain a greater proficiency. My time spent in Honduras impacted me in immeasurable ways and has opened my eyes to a different world out there.”
"Unite For Sight is dedicated to the latest ideas in global health, with the goal to be a successful program. I was impressed with the professionalism-oriented attitude toward serving the world’s poor. I was initially intimidated by the program’s fundraising and educational requirements; looking back Unite For Sight prepared me to be a successful volunteer and my training improved my experiences in Honduras. My time with Unite For Sight helped me identify flaws in my perspectives on healthcare delivery, barriers to care, and patient attitudes that affect their decisions regarding their health. The overall health of a community takes place one person at a time. Change takes place slowly, but is possible—indeed, it’s the small changes over time that makes the biggest difference—whether we’re talking about personal finances, weight loss, or implementing changes in the clinic. My experiences in Honduras helped me evaluate my role in global healthcare delivery. Not only did I learn a lot, but I met some very talented, creative, and motivated people that are making the world a better place. The time I spent in Honduras created memories that I will never forget."
"Working in Tegucigalpa was a life-changing experience. Not only did it give me a whole new level of appreciation for the dire need for donated aid to underserved populations, but it also taught me of the tenacity and ability of individuals to survive all difficulties. While ZOE Eye Clinic may not have the flashy technology or million dollar buildings like the United States, the staff is warm and inviting and always give their patients undivided attention. The attending physicians are skilled and capable; in fact, for us two students lost in a new country, the physicians and staff took time to help us become acquainted with the country and the way of life at the clinic. Within a few days, we were all family. Even today, I keep in touch with those I left behind in Tegucigalpa. Through their love of their country and its people, I learned what dedication and passion can do for the medical world. Truly, there is no feeling quite like that of an elderly man putting on a pair of glasses and hugging us and crying in disbelief as the world becomes crystal clear around him. I will never forget my experience in Honduras--that one month reminded me of the importance of kindness, laughter, friendship, and determination in all that we do."
"My UFS experience in Honduras was one of the best of my life. Working with and learning from the local doctors was eye-opening, excuse the pun. The clinic in Tegucigalpa worked efficiently to provide care to hundreds of patients each day. At least one hundred, and some days nearly two hundred, patients were also screened at the outreaches. Anyone with cataracts was provided the opportunity for free surgery within a few weeks – unheard of wait times for me, coming from Canada. While accepting the offer seemed like a no-brainer for me, there were instances where it was refused. Barriers such as access to a telephone to line up transportation, the cost of a medical exam, and a fear of, to me, a common medical procedure were completely new to me. Those who did agree to surgery were richly rewarded. Equally as rewarding for me was fitting patients with reading glasses. I will always remember the look on people’s faces when they could see up close again. One man was very emotional that he could read his Bible for the first time in years. UFS provided an opportunity to participate in an ethical volunteer program that allowed me to witness the impacts first-hand. Thank you UFS for changing my life."
"My most memorable experience occurred while we were on an outreach trip to a city on the southern coast of Honduras. It was my responsibility to run the distribution table and give out whichever readers or sunglasses the patients had been prescribed by the local optometrist. We saw 100 people that day, and more than half received eye wear, but the two that I remember serving most clearly were an elderly couple who had both been prescribed the highest power readers that we had luckily brought this time. The excitement with which they received and tried on new readers and the relief on both of their faces when they realized that they could read the fine print of a bible had a deep impact on me. They had shared that profoundly transformative experience, and I was lucky enough to have witnessed it.
Unite For Sight's Campus Representatives represent approximately 3% of Unite For Sight's Global Impact Fellow alum. The Campus Representatives are our most stellar alum, and they represent Unite For Sight on their university campuses. While many universities have Unite For Sight Campus Representatives, the majority of universities with past or current Global Impact Fellows do not have a Campus Representative. One does not need to be at a university with a Campus Representative in order to participate in the Unite For Sight program, nor does one need to be a student in order to participate.
Campus Representatives motivate students at their university to participate with Unite For Sight and to become engaged in global health delivery. They give presentations at their university about their experience as a Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow and communicate by email, by phone, or in person, with students from their university who are interested in volunteering with Unite For Sight.