Around Ravenna by Gerry Lewis

Published:

Since I just returned from what I always call Dr. William Brinker's Eye Care Mission Trip to El Salvador (now officially Eye Care International), I guess you'll have to bear with me and hear a little about it. I sometimes have to laugh when I think of Esther Burton's comment about El Salvador being the "land of not quite right."

This was my first trip flying alone to Atlanta where I met Sherry Clausing from Pickerington. We had a great flight to San Salvador, but we stood in line for two hours waiting to get through customs. Lots of tourists coming in on Saturday and many are mission groups working on projects. Some building playgrounds; dental care clinic people coming to assist with health care and, of course, our group of eye care people. Believe me -- we talked to everyone in line. When we finally got to pay our $10 tourist fee and picked up our luggage -- we were happy to get the "green light" to enter the country.

Pre-screening week is one of the highlights of the trip. Two teams visited 18 communities, traveling in pickup trucks to the hard-to-get-to areas. The purpose is identifying and pre-registering people who were likely surgery candidates and distributing tickets for certain days of the week. We often picked up people on the road and one day we stopped with Father Lorenzo and picked up 750 pounds of beans.

The largest turnout was in Cacaopera, where 400 people were gathered in and around the church. We gave out more than 4,000 tickets altogether. Jack and Pat Burns of Kent were part of this team, and being fluent in Spanish, a huge help. Other local Ohioans helping the week before the clinic started were Ann and Darrell Holland of Lakewood, Al Strodtbeck and Ginger Sorg of Wooster. Our medical people were Bob Means of Sharon, Pa., and Sherry Clausing.

During the two weeks of the clinic, many Peace Corps members come to help. Imagine our surprise when one was Denise Hilliard, a Kent Stat University graduate from the Hudson area. She is in El Salvador for eight months training teachers. Her previous stay was in 1999-2001. She drove nine hours to get to Perkin, where the clinic was held. We told her we'd plug her mother's shop in Stow called Anna's Place.

Our total number of people seen was more than anticipated -- 4,942. When you add to that total the people we saw in pre-screening -- awesome. There were 60 volunteers from our group the first week, 40 the second week and another 60 local volunteers. What a privilege to be part of this ongoing project and to be able to help so many wonderful people.

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Congratulations to Lori Cantor, who has been nominated by the Women's Center Advisory Board at KSU as one of Kent State's "mothers," "mentors" or "muses." The criteria is that Lori has been (and continues to be) significantly instrumental in the lives of students and colleagues.

The Mothers, Mentors & Muses Scholarship Fundraiser Reception will be held March 12 in the Kent Student Center Ballroom and Lori will be one of the honored guests singled out for her contribution to the Kent State community.

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For Ravenna news, call Gerry Lewis at 330-325-3119.

Lucy Kester of Ravenna, who was part of the medical team, Denise Hilliard, Peace Corps member and KSU graduate from the Hudson area, and Gerry Lewis.

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