Rotarians help Kenyans see

Mary Sloan and Jeff Lichty, members of Clarkston Rotary Club, fit glasses to people in need in Kenya. Photo provided

Clarkston Rotary members Mary Sloan and Jeff Lichty helped serve 2,198 patients at five clinics in Nakuru, north of Nairobi, during their third eye care mission to Kenya.
The trip, including Rotary members from Michigan, Colorado, and Ontario, was organized by Doctor Nelson Edwards, a member of the M36 Rotary in Livingston County and also VOSH, Volunteeer Optometists Serving Humanity.
The team of four doctors and 13 volunteers worked through the Utumishi Rotary Club in Nairobi. They took about 5,000 pairs of eyeglasses, which were donated and then organized by Lions clubs. Clarkston Rotary donated 1,000 pairs of quality reading glasses for those who didn’t need a full prescription.
“Jeff and I will go back again next year,” Sloan said. ” It was unbelievably rewarding when a patient said to me, ‘I can see all the way over to those trees. It’s a miracle! May I hug you?’ Or when we put a strong prescription on a patient who looks around in wonder at things they’ve never seen clearly.”
The team was able to find glasses with the correct prescription and size for a baby with a condition making his eyes go in different directions, which would make him go blind if not corrected.
“This was one of the many moments when it is obvious a huge difference was made in someone’s life,” Sloan said.
One team member, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Germany, raised money to go on the trip by selling the privilege of writing inspirational messages on soccer balls, which he then brought to Kenya and donated to schools around the clinic sights.
“Two members recognized Octopizzo, a Kenyan recording artist and humanitarian, in our hotel,” Sloan said. “They made arrangements to meet up with him when he’s in Michigan in April to plan a fundraiser, possibly for one of the schools our team visited.”
Two other team members are funding school uniforms for students at one of the schools near the clinics where an “away team” went to screen students for glasses.
Sloan, a former school teacher, is helping one of the interpreters get her teaching degree, and another interpreter will be helped by team members to complete his nursing degree. Both degrees are in high demand in Kenya. As a bonus, after five days of clinic, the team spent a few days on the Massai Mara enjoying beautiful wild animals in their natural surroundings.
“When the cheetahs lay down in the middle of the road, all vehicles have to wait for them to move,” Sloan said. “We are on their turf and at their mercy. It’s breathtaking.”
The Clarkston Rotary will show a video of the trip on Monday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m. at Buckshots Bar and Grill. All are welcome. For more information, contact Sloan at

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