How and when did you meet the entity? Why did you decide to get involved?
I got to know the Foundation in an ophthalmologist congress and I signed up as a volunteer. I was already cooperating with other organizations, but Eyes of the world seemed to me close, serious and professional.
You are one of the first volunteers of Eyes of the world. What value have all these years supporting the first projects of the Foundation?
I am happy to have provided help in each one of the projects. And chiefly, I am pleased to see how the attention of the people without economic resources has advanced, and how the project has been consolidating and achieving in some cases, a “happy ending”, a great satisfaction to see that the professionals we have been teaching are already working alone.
You have traveled to all the territories where Eyes of the world cooperate. What is your impression about the ocular health situation in each one of them?
Well, the situation is very different in each one for different reasons: their own characteristics and resources designed to health care in each country, the resources that Eyes of the world can obtain for each project, the permanent personnel in each territory, etc. However, the situation is indeed much better now than it was when we arrived, especially because they can do it by themselves.
What are the most worrying visual issues in this countries? Which difficulties did you have to face?
The truth is that I did not have too many difficulties. I remember in Bolivia suffering a bit of altitude sickness and, especially, that we coincided with a peace strike. They did not allow us to go up El Alto to work, and we had to go into ambulances… A whole adventure! And, in Mali, I had the bad luck of getting malaria. I really felt terrible there but they gave me the treatment with quinine immediately, and in 5 days I was already feeling better. Two Cuban nurses took care of me… Two angels for me! I am still in contact with them. You always find good people around the world.
Who is the patient that impacted you the most?
Impacted? Many. In Mali. Mainly because of poverty. For us who have an accommodated occidental life, it is not easy to see malnourished children live, with the swollen bellies and blind.
Any particular case or anecdote you would like to highlight?
I have told it several times, and I keep getting emotional. In Mali, an African mother came to the consult with her baby hanging from a rope, as all the African mothers bring their children because they cannot leave them alone to go to the doctor without them.
She was blind because of cataracts. The doctors of the commission practiced surgery on her, and the next day, we took the dressing to test her eyes, it was brutal. I will never forget her emotional look for being able to see for the first time her son. She cried, and so did the whole team!
How would you explain in a single phrase the importance of the Foundation?
How difficult! A lot is done, and sometimes it seems to people that is not much.
And finally, which three words do you think define the foundation, Eyes of the world?
Altruism 100×100, honesty and professionality.