We would like to share a highlight of the work that Canadian Vision Care (CVC) has done for nearly four decades. Started by a group of Optometrists Alberta in 1981, it has grown into a full-fledged registered charity organization that spans the world. CVC is proud to have created a structure where the 3 O’s (Optometry, Ophthalmology and Opticianry) work together to deliver comprehensive and integrated eye care in the developing world. Canadian vision Care has a BIG heart for helping the people in need, wherever they are in the world! Jamaica, Costa Rica, Philippines, Africa, Guyana, and most recently Cambodia are just a few places that CVC teams have visited to offer help and support.
Our family- Dr. Murphy, Dr. Osiowy, and our son Mitchell, had the opportunity to participate in a Canadian Vision Care charity project in Cambodia in March 2019. We worked with four other families, and a total of eight kids ranging from 8 – 14 years. We worked hard, in very hot and humid weather, long hours, and ultimately took care of many people. It was very rewarding to be able to work in two communities in remote areas of Cambodia. Our Cambodia Project was probably, one of the purest experiences of the Joy of Giving that any of us have had (kids & adults).
Ultimately, the theme of this project grew into “Kids Helping Kids”. Dr. Murphy stated from the perspective of a clinician having worked on many CVC projects:
“I must say that I underestimated how much real work we were going to be able to get done with the kids along. It far exceeded my realistic expectations of what could be achieved.
What they were part of is the working definition ofSYNERGY; the dimension of the kids value add exceeded expectations. Their diligent work totally enhanced the final quality and accuracy of the work we did as a team. Reliable Visual Acuity’s was the first part – not an easy task with zero English speaking community- with our having to use letter E shapes to measure the level of vision at the start of the exam – then consistency in reporting ‘Fails’ on the auto refraction instrument results (also done by the kid crew at the next station) allowed the Doctors to do better work and enabled us to see more people. It also inspired many of the local volunteers that helped with crowd control and interpretation, to spend all four days with us. When we rely on adults volunteer (Lions or Rotary club members) to do this technical work in our traditional Doctor/ Optician only projects, the varied unreliability of this data made the work much less productive or efficient.
On our Cambodia project, our young team members were integral to the collective success of the project. The kids each tried hard to do their best and stay focused, yet asking for help if unsure of results being recorded. All of these efforts made a big difference in knowing we got most everything right with very little eye disease missed and not diagnosed. Koodo’s to the Kids!
Included below is a case that I recall that illustrates how The Kids Good Work made my job way easier and allowed me to catch an eye/ general health problem that may ultimately save that little boy’s life in the remote village they lived. …. On the afternoon of the first day of clinic (I took the time out in the morning to set up visual acuity (VA) stations and teach the older kids proper technique), I noted a very poor recorded VA in one eye of a little boy that I was examining. The anomaly caught my attention because I knew the kids’ work was trustworthy. That triggered my investigating in more detail, and had me clue into quickly that the 12 year old boy I was examining had Marfan’s Syndrome…. the lens had Subluxated sufficiently in one eye such that the one eye was radically out of focus ~ +14.00). Not only does this boy have significant eye care needs, but his life also may be at risk because of an associated heart valve condition. Medical work up is essential for this little boy.
Given the extensively long days we worked (not normal by traditional CVC workdays considering we are all volunteers – we do want our colleagues to come again), each of the children can proudly carry with them this video as an experience forever remembered with so many fundamentals of hard work and working smart. I loved how the kids organized, within themselves, optimization of their quality control and their respectful moving of special needs patients so that dignity of those we were taking care of was respected. Once again, the volunteer locals could sense that special care, and amazingly stuck around all four days (that’s not normal either in these remote clinics) to yield synergies that simply had to be experienced in order that it be fully digested and appreciated.
In the end of our project, seeing almost1600 people and providing over 1300 pairs of glasses, the success was met by ‘Leveraging All These Components Optimally Allowed Us To Achieve The Results’. It’s only when combining the right environment (near 40 years of CVC project experience) with fantastic portable diagnostic equipment, Rick Castiglione’s logistics and risk management, the local host volunteers, along with like-minded team of Doctors and their families to appreciate the multiple textures of experience that the project enabled each of us to appreciate individually.
We have the pleasure of sharing a video of our Cambodia project as filmed and narrated by Rick Castiglione, who has done years of television anchor and reporting work in Calgary, now venturing into humanitarian based adventure travel and videography with his business Cielo Pictures.
As each of these kids make career and future life decisions, I am confident that our Cambodia CVC work experience will be a benchmark of a vantage point that resonates with the summary of “Give a Little, You Get A Lot”.
Dr. Patrick Murphy