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LET ME TELL YOU A STORY
This is the story of an amazing series of events that are a culmination of generosity, serendipity, chance and just plain good luck.
Last Fall I was part of an Eyecare project in Manila, Philippines. These projects usually need a local sponsor and a local property owner to coordinate the project on site. While there, it was evident that the need was way more than could possibly be filled by a 2-week project. It was decided that we should build a permanent clinic to provide our vision services permanently instead of relying on 2-week projects from the 1st world to the 3rd world.
The property owner, The Philippine National Railway (PNR), would provide the land for a $1 a year lease. Nikka Trading would fund the construction of the clinic and I would be responsible for collecting the necessary instruments to properly equip the clinic. All would be managed by a Charitable Foundation, The Special Philippine Eye Care Solutions Foundation (SPECS). To save construction costs, we decided to use 2 unserviceable train coaches instead of putting up a building.
This winter, many of you answered my call for used equipment for this project. The response was overwhelming. I hesitated listing all the items donated for fear of missing some donors but I decided to do it anyway so if I neglected to mention your gift, please forgive me, it was not intentional.
I received a complete edging lab from one office, a complete chair and stand from another, slit lamps, projectors, keratometers, lensometers, a retinal camera, auto refractors, an air-puff tonometer, trial lens cases, retinoscopes, ophthalmoscopes, a BIO, an auto perimeter, equipment tables, frame bars, uncut lenses, discontinued frames as well as used glasses from almost all of my colleagues.
Then an instrument rep and I contacted the ophthalmologists. Between the ophthalmologists and the hospitals, I received a phoroptor, an operating chair, an operating microscope, a phaco machine, a Yag laser, an Argon laser, and over 500 cartridges used for cataract surgery. Other items received were: Surgical instruments, a heart monitor, a blood pressure monitor, diathermy units and an oxygen monitor.
Then I contacted the opticians and received frame warmers, another phoroptor, a Haag-Streit slit lamp (1975 edition, but still in great condition). Finally, I contacted the labs and received over 1000 pairs of SV lenses, All for free.
To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. When I sent the Foundation in Manila a video of the equipment, they were incredulous; they had no idea of how generous we are.
Then came the problem of getting all this stuff half way around the world. We had to crate all the equipment to survive the 30-day boat trip. One of my neighbors volunteered her father’s warehouse for us to use to store the equipment and to build the crates. A young carpenter living at my mother’s house volunteered to build the crates on the weekends.
A local company donated the pallets. The wood had to be specially treated to avoid carrying insect pests and only one company in town carried it. The owner happened to be my patient and he donated the wood. The crates had to be loaded onto a container to be taken to the port of Halifax by truck. A trucker came in for an appointment and recommended I call his boss. The owner offered to load and take the container to Halifax for free. Another neighbor imports frozen food from overseas and he talked to his shipper about the project. The shipper offered to arrange the shipping from Halifax to Manila for cost (about $2,300).
Some of you offered to help with the cost of shipping all this to Manila. Thank you.
The ship just set sail on Saturday April 20th. It will arrive in Manila on May 21st. I will be there to meet it. The fact that a small group of eye care providers in a small province was willing and able to donate all the equipment necessary to set up an optometry and a cataract surgery clinic half way around the world from New Brunswick, to help people we will probably never meet, says volumes about our character and our generosity.There are many side stories to this saga and if you buy me a glass of wine I will be happy to share some with you.
For now, I just want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Part 2 will follow after I return from Manila.
Dr. Pasq Marcantonio
SEEING EYE TO EYE - The New Brunswick Association of Optometrists
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY
by Dr. Pasq Marcantonio, SPECS Co-Founder
Excerpts from: SEEING EYE TO EYE - The New Brunswick Association of Optometrists
Spring Edition May 2013
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