Each year, used eye glasses, refurbished by San Jacinto College eye care technology students, are donated to the children of Collique, Peru, through Operación San Andrés. Pictured from left to right: Operación San Andrés volunteers Susan Young, Jane Verm, Kris Dill, and Vince Smith, present Collique resident, Jair, with a pair of eye glasses. Submitted photo.
Community in Peru receives eyeglasses cleaned and prepared at San Jacinto College
Jeannie Peng-Armao -- February 28, 2012
PASADENA, Texas — A chance meeting recently revealed how San Jacinto College's (SJC) service learning efforts are reaching a community on the outskirts of Lima, Peru.
Through Operación San Andrés (OSA), the College's eye care technology program has been contributing toward the organization's mission by reading prescriptions, cleaning, and labeling more than 1,000 pairs of used eyeglasses annually over the last four years. However, program director Debra Clarke said she and the students never really knew how much of an impact their work made until Dr. Steven Horton, who retired from the College after 38 years of service, made a visit to Peru with an OSA construction team.
"On the fourth day in the mountains, a gentleman introduced himself as Vince Smith and asked me what I did and who did I work for,” said Dr. Horton. “I told him San Jacinto College, and he fired back, 'San Jacinto College? Do you know Debra Clarke?' Imagine meeting someone in another hemisphere that knows of your former workplace and how San Jacinto College is making a difference in the lives of the people of Collique."
Smith, who is president of OSA, worked with Clarke and her students on the processing of the used eyeglasses. In result of such efforts, more than 500 residents of Collique have received a pair of glasses, said Smith. During each OSA trip, the medical, dental, and eye clinics see approximately 2,500 patients, with about 300 passing through the eye clinic.
"One of the things I tell our students is that we're a community college that is fortunate enough to have these beautiful new facilities because our community wanted to improve San Jacinto College. So it's important to impress upon the students to give back to their community, whether this is in our own back yard or thousands of miles away in Peru," said Clarke. "Operación San Andrés gives our students yet another opportunity to feel good about their endeavors while in training."
Houston cardiologist and Peru native, Dr. Luis A. Campos, and his wife, Ruth, founded Operación San Andrés. The organization’s mission is to provide holistic aid to the indigent and underserved people of Collique, Peru. In addition to regular medical and dental care campaigns, OSA trips also include a construction team.
"San Jacinto College has made a very significant contribution to the OSA ministry," said Smith. "People who donate used eyeglasses replenish the inventory that we have on site in Collique. We always need a large inventory to have the best "chance" of finding a good match. Ultimately, these donations lead to greatly improved eyesight for impoverished residents of this community."
The SJC eye care technology program is currently accepting donations for used eyeglasses for Operación San Andrés. In the near future, the SJC nursing program will also begin accepting unused clinical supplies for the OSA medical team. For more information about Operación San Andrés, visit http://operacionsanandres.org.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
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