Although they can clearly see the potential for danger, two nurses from Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, Minn., are listening to their hearts to help a desperately underserved population in South America. Angie Deml and Shelli Clabough talked with KAAL-TV about their past experiences volunteering and what they anticipate when they travel to Colombia later this month with Children’s Vision International. “This will be our third trip,” Deml tells KAAL. And each trip brings them to remote locations in areas with “the highest of need.” For example, during the upcoming 12- day trip, Deml says the group will travel to a homeless village they also visited last year “where we had seen a very high need.
The numbers and the need are staggering. The medical team often sees 1,000 people a day and still has to turn some people away. “Most of these people have never had medical care, so they’ve got some serious illnesses, they’ve got diabetes, so they’ve got sores and wounds,” Clabough tells the television station. And she adds that even though team members are advised to finish their work each day by 4:30 p.m., they generally continue well past dark -- working by flashlight.
This year will be a little different for the group, which has always provided medical, dental, and respiratory care, a wound clinic, and even barbers. For the first time, this year the 70-member team will be bringing 3,000 pair of eyeglasses donated through Lion’s Club drop boxes. “A lot of these people have never had their vision checked,” Deml tells KAAL. “People have had headaches, they can’t read, they can’t even perform their occupations.”
Not surprisingly, both Deml and Clabough say they come back from each trip with a new perspective. “I think I’m a lot more conscientious, a lot more compassionate,” Clabough says, with Deml adding, “I don’t take anything for granted.” But mostly, it’s about giving back. “There’s “no feeling in the world” quite like that, Clabough says.
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