I Care International completed a successful clinic in San Alejo, El Salvador from March 3-6, 2024. We were hosted by the Rotary Club of San Miguel. This was a special trip for our volunteers with a great clinic followed by some wonderful R&R at Playa Sunzal. Thinking back on our clinic days, one thing that stood out was the positive attitude displayed by each of our volunteers even in the face of some unique obstacles: a rough road to Agape Home, construction around the clinic site in San Alejo, and the heat, just to name a few. In many ways, it wasn’t actually a smooth or easy clinic but it never felt hectic or filled with frustration. And that was thanks to the group coming together and just doing what needed to be done. We are grateful!

We were a group of 30 volunteers from California, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Mexico. We served a total of approximately 900 patients in our 4 days. Five optometrists and two outstanding optometry students (from the University of Missouri-St. Louis) referred 60 patients to Dr. Mirian Gomez, a member of the San Miguel Rotary Club who is an ophthalmologist. She has agreed to perform her in office consultations for free and told us that patients had already been calling her office to schedule appointments after our first day of clinic. Thanks to Ortiz Eye Associates, two pairs of custom eyeglasses are already on their way back to two young patients in San Alejo. 

On our first clinic day, we had the unique opportunity to serve at the Agape Home, a small congregate center for children and adolescents. Thanks to Mary Schneider for putting together an incredible collection of donated items for the kids there. In addition to the supply of toiletries and other items, we also were able to present a monetary gift of $1100 to Sister Veronica, the woman who runs the home. Again, a huge thank you to Mary and to everyone else who worked on making this happen and to everyone who donated items and money!

Our partnership with the Rotary Club of San Miguel is one that we hope can continue for years to come. We feel a sense of connection with them that should not be taken for granted. Carlos, the current Rotary Club President, and the other Rotarians have been amazing to work with and we look forward to working with them again. They are wonderful, accommodating, and generous hosts! We are already anticipating a return to El Salvador for a 2026 clinic.

Michelle Zuleta is our local San Miguel liaison who worked closely with the Rotary Club to prepare for our clinic. She rallied five coworkers and friends to assist us throughout our week. Their language and leadership skills were instrumental to the success of our clinic. Some of them used PTO in order to volunteer with us, and that speaks volumes about their heart for service. We know our clinic would not have run as smoothly without them. 

We are also grateful to the Supérate students for their interpretation and general assistance throughout the clinic. Supérate is a high school bilingual honors program in San Miguel, and 12 students joined us each day in San Alejo. Those of us who were fortunate enough to work with these students witnessed their eagerness to help and their joy in getting to practice English. They were a great group of young people who served as a fun and valuable addition to our clinic! We gave each of them an I Care International stainless steel bottle; thank you to Kelly Davis for working on these bottles on short notice ahead of our trip.

Thank you to the volunteers who participated in this clinic and to all of you who continue to support I Care International through your financial donations. Thanks to all of you, we helped a lot of people!