Today, instead of going to the hospital, I helped with vision screening of the school kids. One of the teachers, Meghan, started doing this, as she noticed that some of her students were having trouble in class seeing the board.
She told us about one, very bright, boy who is first in his class, who usually sits right at the front. One day he had raised his hand to ask a question. When she heard what he wanted her response was, “the answer to your question is right on the blackboard, just look at the board.” It was after that she realized, that he couldn’t see, all his learning came from listening, and remembering, not seeing.
Meghan has contacted Rotary and they have agreed to help get kids with vision problems to an optometrist in a town not far from Project Mercy to be evaluated, and to provide glasses for them.
So we set up two stations with eye charts, and started with some of the older grades, as they are more familiar with the English alphabet. We had one student who read through the chart so fast, I could barely keep up with him. I think he liked showing off his ability to read.
We had one girl who on one eye could not even see the big E at the top of the chart until we moved her to within just a couple of feet of the chart. Fortunately, she had good vision in her other eye.
I know that we were able to detect several others who had serious trouble with their vision, but have probably never said anything. I hope that the results will help all the teachers here become more sensitive to the needs of their students. If you can’t see, it sure makes it hard to learn.
We also screened several 5th grade students. Since they are not as adept with the alphabet, we used a tumbling E chart, where you just have to indicate what direction the E is facing, up, down, right, left.
We had one little boy who scored 20/20 once we realized that his responses were just the opposite of what was on the chart. If the E was facing up, he would indicate by saying down. If it was right, he would indicate left. I don’t think he needs glasses, but he definitely needs some help!
I also learned that 5th grade boys are the same everywhere. We had three boys that kept getting back in line to be screened over and over. Each time one would step up, we would say, “didn’t we already test you?” They would say, “No”. This went on a little while, until finally, we tumbled to their game. They thought it was more fun to hang out with us than to go back to their classroom.
On one of our breaks, we visited with some women who come every day to weave the most beautiful baskets. The sale of their baskets provides the income so that their children can come to school. They are so proud of their work, they were anxious for each of us to take a closer look at their handiwork.
Later in the day, I met with Ellen who will be teaching basic first aid to some of the students, teachers, and help here at Project Mercy. I am hoping to learn from her presentation, so that I can teach some of the sessions in order to reach as many as possible.
The days seem to fly by here, busy, but so rewarding.