Irene Chen, from Melbourne, came on board the MV YWAM PNG for the 2016 outreach in Oro Province. ‘When I first heard that YWAM was running outreaches to Papua New Guinea and that they were accepting general volunteers, I jumped at the opportunity!’ said Irene.
Once on board, Irene was trained with the practical skills needed to be a part of the optometry team. Each day, the team loaded themselves, along with backpacks and boxes of equipment into a patrol tender before heading out to the villages. Over the 10 days, the team was able to assess and provide over 900 glasses and sunglasses to people in remote communities across the province. Some patients were referred to the ophthalmologist on board the ship to be assessed for surgery.
PNG has high levels of vision impairment and blindness, partly due to increased exposure to UV. It can be difficult for people to access the services they need, particularly if they live far from urban centres. With the benefit of the Mother Ship and patrol tenders, YWAM Medical Ships’ teams are able to access these remote communities. Wherever possible, teams work together with local health providers to help deliver much needed eye care.
Meeting people whose lives had been impacted by vision impairment was a life-changing experience for Irene. So too, was witnessing the transformation when they were given correct glasses. ‘Word cannot describe the moment they put on the perfect pair of glasses and they can see again!’ she reflected.
Inspired by what she had been a part of in PNG, Irene committed to staying involved once she got home. ‘ The need across PNG is very great and I wanted to see the work continue beyond my time on the trip,’ said Irene. She set up a fundraising page with the goal of raising over $4,000 to purchase three new optometry backpacks. For Irene, seeing the YWAM team in action motivated her to make a positive change in the world.
Through Irene’s efforts, YWAM Medical Ships has been able to purchase new equipment to help expand their optometry services to people in remote PNG communities.
To set up a YWAM Medical Ships fundraising project of your own, contact email@example.com