Blog #3: Many Smiles and Boxes of Chocolates

Barev dzez (“Greetings” in Armenian) from Gyumri, everyone! :)

It is very hard to believe that my internship here is coming to an end soon. However, I know I will leave this country with so many great memories, experiences, and new friends. Since my last blog, I have not only worked at the S. Malayan Eye Clinic, but I have also taught English lessons to young Armenian students and  conducted Zumba dance classes. Recently, I have taught dance to young children in wheel chairs with other volunteers which was a very touching experience for me.  These amazing children will actually be performing their dance routines that they have learned this week. I am looking forward to their performances. 

At the clinic, I have been seeing more patients with eye problems and sometimes on my own, since our optometrist is on vacation for three weeks. Of course, I ask them to return to see the doctor if their condition is something other than simple treatment. One interesting experience I had recently was assisting the ophthalmologist in a cataract surgery. Participating in the surgery was such an unexpected experience, and one I feel privileged to have taken part in. A lot of patients I have seen lately at our site have had severe eye infections due to the dust and dirt in the air here. A few of the patients even have fallen on the sidewalk because the roads and sidewalks are not well maintained in some areas and rocky in some others. It really frustrates me to see that these patients hurt their eyes in ways that could be easily prevented. In many cases, we prescribe different antibiotic eye drops such as Tobrex to treat their infections. Sometimes we also have to prescribe three different types of drugs to a patient, but many of them cannot afford to buy all three drugs at once since they can be expensive.

So, to make the lives of the patients less difficult, I thought it would be best if I communicated with a couple of optometrists back at NECO to donate some eye drops to Gyumri.  Thanks to Dr. Richard Jamara, we received eight different kinds of antibiotic eye medications. When I brought the package to my clinic, the ophthalmologist was very appreciative and put them right into use. I had an interesting conversation with him last week during a coffee break. He explained to me that many of the patients at the clinic would go to the local pharmacy and would only buy two out of the three medications they were prescribed since they could not afford the third medication. Now, with the help of NECO, we are lessening the burden of the cost of eye care medication; many thanks NECO. 

To show their appreciation, many patients bring us boxes of chocolate, something I only see during the holiday season in the states. It is so fulfilling to see them leave the clinic satisfied that their eye problem was addressed. They never cease to thank us for our help. I am honored to work with these people who have taught me so much about kindness and gratitude.

You will see the last blog of my trip in a few weeks. Until then, enjoy your summer! :)

Estesootyoon (“until we meet again” in Armenian)

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