At first glance from the outside, the DIF Municipal building looks similar to a candy shop or a lively preschool with its water-melon color scheme and hand drawn posters. DIF, which stands for Integral Development of Family, in Spanish, is a non profit organization that provides support to the community of Loreto through services for single mothers, elderly, and the homeless. It's hard to grasp the level of involvement and impact in the community since they provide a variety of resources that are invaluable to the livelihood of its residents. Deborah Wright of VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services for Humanity) CA coordinated with DIF to hold a free vision clinic. For three days, this was where we provided 353 eye exams and 122 prescription glasses made, and if necessary, medicated eye drops.
Clinic 2-La Purisima
La Purisima, a small village founded by jesuits in the early eighteenth century on one of the biggest oases in Baja California. With a constant source of water from the Carrizales stream and fertile soil in the middle of the desert, a self sustainable community was born and remains pretty much untouched. Even Wikipedia has no dirt on it.
The journey to La Purisima was quite bumpy. Averaging 60 mph on unpaved dirt roads would be no problem for a rally car, but for the 14-seater van we were packed into, it felt more like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. Three hours later, we arrived at the town square where a crowd of a hundred people were waiting for us since the early morning. There was nothing much to do except get to work.
7 hours later...
In total, we saw 316 patients with 69 prescription glasses made at La Purisima in a day and a half. Many locals in La Purisima do not have access to health care as there are no hospitals or doctors in this small town. The organization that provided the space for the eye exams is called OSC Vive Cadegomo A.C.
OSC Vive Cadegomo A.C. is an NGO founded by Pedro Rodolfo Gonazales Hiarles and Maria Jesus Peralta HIguera. The organization's mission is to help the community preserve it's long standing tradition of self sustaining development. They work with the most vulnerable people of the community in three areas: healthcare, food security, and productive projects. Among such projects includes our mission trip. I'd like to say that we could help everyone out there, but the reality is that we didn't have the necessary resources required to treat some of the ocular conditions people are living with there. Below are some portraits of patients that had certain conditions where glasses could not fully correct their vision.
The People of La Purisima
I had the opportunity to stay at Maria's small hostel-like home for a night. As Maria wanted us to know, every meal she prepared was all grown in La Purisima. Slow roasted lamb, fresh goat cheese, dried papayas were probably my top three. Everything besides the Tecate in their fridge was grown organic; signs of a self sustainable lifestyle with miles of desert mountains surrounding the town. Since there are limited jobs in La Purisima, part of OSC Vive Cadegomo A.C.'s mission is to help families put food on the table through organic farming, gain access to healthcare from a doctor who comes every month to a makeshift clinic, promoting ecotourism and ultimately just preserving this historical town.
The Dream Team-
But seriously, shout out to the entire crew and the organizations that made this possible!