Blog submitted by Grace Prakalapakorn
Grace attends Emory University, School of Medicine as an ophthalmology resident and volunteered for ORBIS for the first time as an Associate Ophthalmologist during the Flying Eye Hospital's visit to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Against the tropical backdrop of palm trees and blue waters, the ORBIS DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital made a perfect landing in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. On the ground, both crew and FedEx members eagerly awaited to welcome the plane. As soon as it arrived, a bustle of activity ensued on board as both crew members and volunteers worked side-by-side to unpack the plane and prepare it for the weeks ahead.
For the remainder of its stay, the ORBIS team along with partnership from the local ophthalmology society, six local hospitals and FedEx worked tirelessly to complete a program that focused on building local capacity and public advocacy. Through screening days, surgical cases, symposiums and a public advocacy campaign involving mobile screening units, ORBIS was able to fulfill its goals.
Throughout the trip, there was continuous exchange of knowledge, ideas and skills. While the most overt example of this was though the direct transfer of knowledge and skills from the visiting faculty and nurses to their trainees, it also occurred in the reverse direction from the trainees to the visiting faculty and nurses though sharing of experiences and between the individual team members at all levels. What impressed me the most was how the ORBIS team members came together to work as a unit. The team members themselves were a diverse group that came from all over the world (including Canada, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States to name a few) and each member brought a unique skill set to the team via their different backgrounds in training (pilots, mechanics, engineers, nurses, doctors, etc …) and life experiences.
I enjoyed the opportunity to work with such a great and unique organization. Through its endeavors at capacity building, increasing local awareness about eye care and forming partnerships with local organizations and individuals, ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital’s impact on the community will extend well beyond its two-week tenure in Santo Domingo.
Photos by Perry Athanason