By Shayla Vance
The Missouri State Vision Screening Program returned to Port-de-Paix, Haiti this year for the second annual spring break trip. Originally inspired by the Provost Office’s idea to address vision problems on a global level, the program traveled overseas with students trained to use specialized vision care equipment.
During the trip to Haiti, Missouri State University students performed vision screenings for schoolchildren and staff while also immersing themselves in the culture. The experiences that they had were eye-opening. Most of the Haitian students that were screened had never had the opportunity to have their eyes examined before.
“There is no trained eye professional in Port-de-Paix, and there is no source for accurate prescription eyewear in Port-de-Paix,” said Lora Hobbs. Hobbs is Missouri State University’s senior instructor in Religious Studies who led the trip to Haiti. “Most families cannot afford
the day-long bus ride to Port-au-Prince, the eye exam, the glasses and having to stay in Port-au-Prince for several days waiting for the glasses to be made, and then the day-long bus ride back to Port-de-Paix.”
For many of the Haitian students, having their vision corrected was life changing. Unclear vision can negatively affect a person’s ability to read, learn in school, get a job and use technology. Over the past two years, the Vision Screening Program has provided approximately 130 Haitian students and faculty with prescription glasses. “Our MSU student team made possible the impossible for these families and students,” Hobbs stated.
The second trip to Port-de-Paix is a continuation of CASL’s initiative to expand its impact beyond the local community. The CASL office strives to provide community partners with the connections they need to address issues on a local, national and global scale. This annual project will to continue to bring free vision screenings to the people of Haiti to address global vision problems and continue Missouri State University’s public affairs mission.