********Editor's note: Edits were made to this story to correct information*************
Jacqueline Warford still remembers the elderly Haitian woman holding a Bible and waiting in line to get her eyes tested.
It was 42-year-old Warford’s first trip to the impoverished Caribbean country as a member Team Broken Earth’s and the Lions Club’s eyecare mission and the woman was one of hundreds she saw that day.
The elderly woman had waited for hours — possibly days — for the chance to meet Warford’s group and get the help she needed.
That help came in the form of the thousands recycled eyeglasses Warford and the rest of her group brought with them in large red bags. They were given one bag filled with eyeglasses and other supplies for the trip.
The woman saw an optometrist and was outfitted with a new pair of glasses, something often taken for granted back home.
Remember the Bible the woman was holding?
Well, she sat and read its passages for the rest of the day.
“She smiled all day and thanked everyone in the clinic,” Warford told The Central Voice.
That woman and the hundreds of others she helped on that trip moved Warford to continue working with Team Broken Earth and the Lions Club. She got involved through her work as a classification officer at the Bishop’s Falls Correctional Centre.
There she works with eyeglass recycling program and through a connection with the local Lions Club Warford was given the opportunity to be a part of the mission.
She just finished her third trip to Haiti in September, where she worked logistics for her team.
She says her work in the last three years in Haiti has tested and changed her. She credits it with helping become a more patient person in her regular life.
“It is the hardest work that I’ve ever done in my life,” said Warford. “It was a humbling experience and I’m a better person after going.
“It impacts you as a person.”
Earlier this month, Team Broken Earth announced it was delaying the next set of medical missions to Haiti as Port-au-Prince has seen a rise in violence over the last several weeks.
Protests, roadblocks and riots have negatively impacted transportation in the country.
“The safety of our volunteers is always top of mind and after consulting with our security advisors, we made this difficult decision,” wrote a statement from Broken Earth’s Andrew Furey, shared via the group’s Twitter account.
“It is the hardest work that I’ve ever done in my life. It was a humbling experience and I’m a better person after going." — Jacqueline Warford
In her three trips to Haiti with Team Broken Earth and their eyeglass program, Warford said she has never felt unsafe.
She did see some civil unrest on her last trip and described it as “disheartening.”
“I would love to see things improve there,” said Warford. “I always looked forward to going.
“The Haitian people are the most appreciative people I’ve ever seen.”
Going on a mission and helping people in another country was always something Warford wanted to take part.
When she got the opportunity to take part in the Broken Earth eye care mission, she jumped at the chance and hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve made some real close friends there,” she said. “It is life-changing.”
About Team Broken Earth
- Founded in 2010 by Dr. Andrew Furey;
- Based in Newfoundland and Labrador;
- There are 11 Canadian chapters;
- Groups have done humanitarian work in Haiti, Guatemala, Bangladesh and Nicraugua;
- To contact, visit brokenearth.ca
Information courtesy brokenearth.ca