One eye is covered with a paper paddle, and the teacher or child is asked to read letters on a chart across the room. Some can do it, and some cannot. Some were shy, and were asked to speak louder. A few of the children giggled as they waited in line. Many of the Operation Blackboard team members laughed when somebody tried to cheat, hoping their vision was better than it was. It was all good-natured fun!
Operation Blackboard, whose mission is, “helping kids see their future”, arrived in town, hosted by Dr. Ellen Roose, who is a resident of Gran Pacifica Beach and Golf Resort. The team consisted of Rani, Ravi, Ramya, and Rishi Vemulapalli, along with Kay Kiefer, a retired doctor, and Lauren Keifer who are all longtime friends of Dr. Roose.
The team traveled to the communities of California, San Diego, San Bartolo, and El Rosario. Out of the 315 children and adults tested, 1 in 4 needed glasses. Ramya stated, "It was super cool to see the kids go from not being able to read the words to reading super well when they looked through the lenses.” She also said, "We loved Nicaragua, the people were so nice, caring, and grateful. It was an amazing atmosphere and we want to come back.”
The group’s first trip was to southern India in 2015 to provide vision tests and glasses in the area of Andhra Pradesh. Since that trip, their goal has been to provide free vision tests for underprivileged children around the world, and also supply prescription eyeglasses. Their desire was to work on a project that people needed and was also sustainable.
Operation Blackboard also donated medical equipment to the new Roberto Clemente III Medical Clinic at Gran Pacifica, such as stethoscopes, manometers, a spinal board for trauma, cervical protector, sutures, and a pocket drop II that is used for monitoring blood flow and fetal heartbeats. Gran Pacifica and the surrounding communities are grateful for the care and support they provided.