In February Dr. Blanche Nobert, one of the optometrists that practises in the Carlyle optometric office, took a trip to Jamaica, along with her husband, David Bellerive, daughter Andrea (age 17) and son Paul (13). But this was no ordinary winter vacation. The purpose of their journey was a short-term mission with a group called Team Healthcare, a medical missions organization. They were to work alongside physicians, nurses, a dentist and another eye doctor to provide free medical clinics at churches in St. Mary Parish, one of the poorest areas of Jamaica.
Upon arrival in Montego Bay, rather than heading to a resort for some sun and sand, they drove three hours to Annotto Bay Gospel Chapel, where they were met (at midnight) along the highway by Sangyol Kim, the organizer of the group. He then led them through a winding maze of roads (using the term loosely) to the house that they would be calling home for the next week. The accommodations were actually quite comfortable, although the water supply (for bathing/washing) was a bit unreliable. All the water was cold, and sometimes there was none at all! Buckets of water were kept handy for flushing the toilets. There was always plenty of good, clean water for drinking, though – and the food was fabulous! Linda, one of the team members, along with some local ladies, would work magic each day to feed the hungry crew.
Each morning the Team would load up all the equipment in one van and people in the other and head up into the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. At a different village each day, the group would set up a clinic in a local church to provide health care to the people in need. Then at the end of the day the Team would pack it all up and head down the mountain to Annotto Bay to do it all again the next day. They visited five different churches in all, and saw hundreds of people.
The dentist would set up in one area, the two doctors in others, the two optometrists in another. Dr. Nobert’s husband provided “crowd control” – making sure the people got seen by the appropriate medical practitioner. There was also the “pharmacy” – with many donated medications. Dr. Nobert’s daughter helped out there, as well as assisting the nurses taking blood pressure and histories.
Dr. Nobert was able to treat eye disease with some of the donated medications. She also took with her a big bag of donated glasses from Saskatchewan. She would examine the patients and give the spectacle prescription to her son, who worked as her assistant. He would then try to find glasses in the bag to match as close as possible to the person’s vision. They were able to provide sight to many who would otherwise not see well.
All in all, it was an amazing trip. When asked if would do it again, Dr. Nobert replies: “Well, this same group goes to Africa as well. Maybe next time we’ll go to Kenya!”
Dr. Nobert sees patients for eye examinations every second Thursday at the Carlyle office. Phone: (306)453-2373.