Seven students from the University of Mississippi arrived on Ambergris Caye to learn more about the community and their needs. However, the lively bunch, accompanied by Kim Shackelford, an associate professor of social work, also arrived bearing much needed gifts – eye glasses. Shackelford, who carried out Sabbatical work in the San Mateo Area for five months in 2009, had the assistance of two Delta Gamma sorority sisters. The girls were so touched by the work that they carried out that they decided to make a difference.
Valerie Blair and Rebecca Warner did not know what to expect when they came to Belize; little did they know that the experience would not only affect their lives but also the lives of those they were trying to help. Delta Gamma, since 1936 has had the philanthropic purpose to stop blindness before it starts. Through their Service for Sight program, Delta Gamma sisters partner with local elementary schools to perform eye tests and educate students on eye safety. This work brought them to the island. While in San Pedro, the sorority sisters worked with the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI) in conducting eye screening to students. After testing many students, 35 of them were required to get glasses in order to protect their sight. The girls soon learned that eye glasses were unfortunately, too costly for many to access. This prompted the college students to go back home and do what they could to help.
Once home they got to work, and with the assistance of fellow students in creating a calendar which they sold at the University. The money garnered from the calendar sales was used to purchase eye glasses in various prescriptions. On Wednesday, Shackelford with seven students handed the over 100 eye glasses to the San Pedro Lions Club for distribution.
Bringing the much needed eye glasses to San Pedro was not the only job required of these students. While here they are receiving a class called Education, Health and Child Welfare in Belize. Through this program, they are planning to work hand in hand and assist the residents of San Mateo. Next week The San Pedro Sun will have more on this work.