From all of us here in Peru thank you for your support of this incredible project. 4733 people from the poorer districts around Lima have received quality eye care and eyeglasses because you cared. Thank you to our financial donors and especially to our friends and family who provide funds to maintain equipment and supplies.  Thank you to everyone who has spent time collecting eyeglasses and sending them to the warehouse in Burnaby this past year, with out that constant supply our eyeglass library cannot be as good as it is. Thank you to the warehouse volunteers who selflessly show up Monday nights throughout the year to sort and clean and recondition incoming glasses. Thank you to Burnaby Lougheed Lions Club for providing us with this facility to prepare our eyeglasses and for providing the much needed lighting.  Thank you to the men of Fraser Pretrial Remand Centre in Port Coquitlam who have neutralized thousands of pairs of eyeglasses these past ten years.  We were fortunate to have the help of grade 11 and 12 students from St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby, these students impressed us with their enthusiasm and hard work.  To the Team members who took time away from home and family this summer to travel to winter in Peru, you are the heart of this merry band determined to make a difference in someone's life, bless you. You came together as strangers putting aside your differences, insecurities, aches and pains to help those less fortunate and have left as dear friends with memories to last a lifetime.  Know that you made a difference.  

Thank you Brother Casey for all your tireless efforts this past year to make this project a success for so many lives.  You are an incredible humanitarian and you inspire us with your faith and commitment to serve and to be kind to everyone.  Thank you too to Sisters Jacinta, Marie, Claire and Sheila for your patience and your help with crowd control and translation.

Meet the T.E.A.M (Together Everyone Achieves Miracles)

Doug & Sharyn Higginson
Dr. Roma-March & Derrick March
Dr. Kiran Janda
Mona Nikhanj
Dr. Dana Blakolmer and daughter Zoe
Stacy Bowler
Dr. Lili Liang 
Dr. Katherine McKay and daughter Delaney
Dr. Annu Kaul (left )with son Ahren and sister Mona
Rodger Konkle

Dr. David Sakaki D.H.L
Brenda Tosoff
Julie Levesque

Final Day of Clinic

The Optometrists jumping for joy as they finish the last patient of the clinic and have cleared the small classroom that was crammed with patients

Our final day of clinic, Day 9 back in San Lurigancho on the foothill slopes of the Andes to help the people of San Franisco district.  An end of the road community mission run by two Irish Sisters. There is just enough altitude to get out of the high mist and cloud that covers Lima and the western slopes of the Andes this time of year.

Stacey, first off the bus and first to attack the registration line next to the road

Rodger and Derrick complete the setup of the dispensary in a small court, The altar from the sparcely furnished church next door doubles as a dispensing table for tools, thankfully the court is covered from the Andean sun.

Marina checking the eye health of an elder

Doug, Brenda and Sharon have no shade from the sun in distance visual acuities, eye charts are taped to the church wall and the single canopy we have gives cover for the testing patients

Thousands of eyeballs since day 1,  David motors through with our Nikon Retinomax autorefactor.  Tough job when you are taller than your patient.

Dr. Karin, writing out a prescription for this elderly lady in special testing.

Dr. Lili Liang flipping lenses to refine a script in special testing, garbage bags cover the windows to darken the room.

The grade 1 classroom gets converted into a special testing where the Optometrists find a spot and check patients...notice the size of the small wooden chairs

The line up grows as the morning progresses, Ahren helping out with registration near the back of the line. In the distance you can see the squatter shacks the poor build high on the steep slopes with their limited resources. Everyday they walk up and down for water and food, the luckiest have a job.

A small child points up in Visual Acuities. The occluder covers one eye as the other is tested. 
Over 460 patients go through this station today.

One happy little girl with her new glasses responds emphatically to what she sees, in the dispensary exit Visual Acuity station.

One of our last patients for this 2017 Peru trip loves his glasses

I Can Put a Smile on Someone's Face

The feeling you get when you hold up a set of trial lenses over someone's  eyes and they are seeing the world for the first time!! How can you match that feeling with anything else?
This is the reason I'm here with TWECS on my fourth mission trip  in Peru.  I have seen countless children with high prescriptions who have never worn glasses.  They have no idea what they are missing in this beautiful world of ours. 
When I go back to the comforts of my home I can look back and say "I made a difference in so many people's lives!!"
Don't take my word for are the reasons.
I saw a six-year-old who has never worn glasses and had a +10.00 prescription.  We were able to give him +7.00 in high eyes and he was as happy as could be. 
Then there was the 8year old girl with a -8.00 with a lot of astigmatism who could not see past her nose..we were able to find her a pair of glasses that she could see across the room as soon as she put them on. The smile was priceless. 
What about the 70 year old that had not been able to see up close for the last 20 years as she was not able to go buy reading glasses for herself.  As soon as I held the lenses up for  her to look at up close she had the biggest smile on her face!! 
A cool story of my sister handing me my nephews old glasses to bring on the trip and we were able to find a young boy with a very similar prescription to fit perfectly into those glasses!! A child back home in Canada was able to change a boys life in Peru. 

The stories are countless. The hugs and kisses never stopped as everyone was so appreciative and happy that we could turn their life around by a simple pair of glasses:)
What made this trip even more special was the fact that my 19 year old son Ahren joined me on this trip. This is his first mission trip and I have a feeling it will not be his last! I could not believe how much joy he took in putting a pair of glasses on someone's face and asking if things look "mehore" (better) and his smile and joy matching those of the patients. I am so proud of him.

I am so blessed to be part of this wonderful team and can't thank Derrick and Marina enough for taking the time away from their family and work to organize this mission...they do this every year with a smile on their faces.  I cannot wait to continue being part of this team over and over again. 
Dr. Annu Kaul

You Can't Choose Where You Are Born

This is my first mission trip. My rationale for coming on this  mission was to give back , explore Peru and spend time with my sis and nephew. I was asked to write a blog on my experience... I have no idea where to start as I've not had time to process. Do I write about the T..W.E.C.S crew (aka family)... Their generosity for taking me in, their compassion for others , some of them are on their 8-9 mission, some bring their kids  and expose them to the joy of giving, working, engaging being present even in rough conditions while being sick. Or should I talk about our bus trips back and forth to the clinics ( even after 10 - 12 hour days...each one is smiling or dancing, or reflecting on the day they just had) knowing they made a difference in someone's life!

Should I write about the clinics ...I take an hour taxi ride straight to the clinic after a red eye. As I step out of the taxi and there is a flood of people and line up way past the eye can see, I have yet to see a familiar face and there walks out my sis doing what she does best . Guiding people to their lines to ensure she does not miss a beat. I get introduced to David, Dana, Kiran, LiLi and then passed on to dispensing ... what the heck is dispensing. I thought I was going to guide lines. I only learnt the equivalent words for line in Spanish. I get a quick brain dump by Rodger. And then I see Delaney while helping her patients she stops to answer my questions and then I'm greeted by Julie's smile. It's going to be ok. I get it into the swing of things trying to learn and then my nephew pops out of no where and gives me some tips. I've got this.... I help my first patient after two shadows with Rodger... she just kissed me to thank me..that she could see when she reads. The smile on her face and the kindness in her eyes, it gives you this energy this high that can't be described . I'm too busy to spend time with her, I need to focus and move on to the next. 

I did not know how or where to begin. There is simply too much to put into words as most of it is the experience itself . I had the privilege to join this group towards the end of their 10 day mission. On my day  3, the only regret I have is not being able to join this team sooner . How many more people could they have seen only If i could have gotten here just a bit earlier?
In life we constantly are tasked with making choices in every aspect . Despite the conditions  in Lima for the people, the one consistent thought I've had through out this trip is, you can't choose where you are born. 
Mona Nikhanj.

The Gift of Sight

I decided to join the TWECS group and assist them on their mission trip this year to Peru, not knowing what to expect or who I was about to be spending the next 10 nights with in a small hostal in a completely foreign country. I must say, to my surprise, this is a trip that I will never forget and have made memories that will  last with me for the rest of my life. It was an amazing and fun spirited group of people working together in unity for a common goal while having lots of fun in the process! For me, this will hopefully be one of many mission trips I wish to participate in throughout my life.

The greatest part about this journey is the fact that you experience the culture and are away from the safety and ease of our regular daily life. On our trips we had many stops throughout Lima in which we went to different areas and interacted first hand with all of the people and helped give them the gift of sight. It was truly heartbreaking to see some of the people and how they have been living their whole lives without being able to see five feet in front of them. I am so glad I got to be apart of an organization that helped those people start a new life with the gift of eyesight! The people we witnessed were determined, strong, and nothing short of spectacular all the way from waiting in line ups as long as three hours to caring children with them the whole way while also dealing with the annoying "english speakers". 

My favourite moment of the trip was when I gave a 84 year old lady who had never gotten her eyes checked in her whole life a new pair of glasses and she instantly began to cry. She cried tears of happiness and pure joy. She could finally see for the first time in decades. It was as if her whole life had changed. I think mine changed too. She told me I was an angel from heaven who had granted her wish and that she would pray to my name for the rest of her life. Moments like that are what this trip is all about and no amount of money will ever be able to grant you that experience.  This trip for me was more then an amazing adventure, it was life changing. 

Ahren Kaul

The Experience Of A Lifetime

When we first arrived at our first day of clinic I was nervous and anxious but before I knew it all those feelings went away when we were greeted by hugs and kisses as soon as we exited the bus. Hundreds of people lined up and are anxious to see the doctors and hopefully help make a difference in their vision. 

One of my most meaning full experiences was simply playing and talking to all the children at the school. The kids were both entertaining and very hard to register because some of them were too young to know their numbers. 

 This was my very first mission trip with TWECS but for my mom or as others know her as Dr. Dana Blakolmer it was her third trip and I was lucky enough to be able to share the experience with her. Before I came on the trip I was nervous because I thought that I might not fit in, I was wrong everyone was friendly and very welcoming, I could not ask for a better group of volunteers. The hosts of the clinics we visted were also very comforting, they made us lunch almost everyday and on our second last day they made us a cake and thanked us with scarves and hats. 

Zoe Foerster