About the Optical Mission
In 1999, Father Joe Walijewski asked the diocese about the possibility of forming a medical mission from the La Crosse area to the orphanage. Mary Dowling of Madison, Wisconsin, and Mary Duddley and Dr. Steve La Liberte of La Crosse formed a team of medical, dental, and optical volunteers who went to Peru in 2001. Over time, the teams grew too large for Casa Hogar to host so they began operating medical and optical missions separately, on opposite years. The next optical mission is scheduled for January 2019.
The value of our mission is giving the gift of sight to the people we serve. We are a team of doctors, opticians and others who conduct eye exams and dispense glasses from Lions Club International to adults and children who otherwise would not have access to optical care. In 2017, the volunteers and Casa Hogar staff gave eye exams and glasses to approximately 1,900 people.
Today we also provide funding for treatment of conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, detached retina, and more. And, following each service trip, a group of college students travel to Peru with custom eyeglasses made in the U.S. (sometimes, out of the 1,700 prescriptions our team brings to Casa Hogar, we cannot find a fit for an individual). In most cases, these glasses are for children who would be considered blind without eyewear.
The far reaching impact of this mission is clear: through the lenses comes opportunity for the adults we serve to obtain work and have an income to support their family and send their children to school. Children are enabled to do better in school by the elimination of the health problems that come from trying to focus when everything is blurry.
The optical mission is truly an eye-opening experience for those involved, creating an environment to joyfully help others in need. Volunteers are also given opportunities to experience enlightenment at Casa, for spiritual growth like daily Mass, prayer, confession, benediction, and music.
Volunteers are always needed for the Casa Hogar optical mission. For more information, contact Cindy Sjolander or visit the Contact Us page.