VOSH-Santa Cruz-Québec Chapter of the Month, for extraordinary humanitarian accomplishment.

Read about the history and the numbers of patients served below as submitted by this amazingly active VOSH Chapter. 

It is with great pride that VOSH Santa Cruz announces to have received over 200,000 patients in more than 54 missions in 8 different countries offering a free eye exam and a pair of glasses since 1999.

We produce more than 8,000 pairs of new glasses in our workshop which are then given to the poor. Our warehouse of 4,000 square feet, enables us to select, analyze, and class over 15,000 pairs of glasses which we bring to each mission. As well, we distribute over 150,000 pairs of glasses to other groups. More than 100 volunteers help us to achieve all this work. We receive most of our glasses thanks to various Lions Clubs in Québec and Ontario.

For the past 10 years, most of the OD students from Montreal University and from Waterloo participate in our missions, helping the ODs, opticians, and volunteers in our various missions to South America, Europe, and Africa. We also have help from OD students f rom ICO and Brisbane, Australia. In 2016, VOSH Santa Cruz was the first humanitarian group to be received by the Republic of Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, and we are returning April 28th 2017.

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

VOSH/International recently consulted its US and International Chapters about the feasibility and timing to restart our humanitarian clinics. While the vaccination process continues with different levels of success depending on availability and acceptance, it is evident that vaccine inequity and the availability and reliability of data in several countries are issues we need to consider.

Even if already vaccinated and boosted, our chapters are still concerned about the wellbeing of our volunteers and patients.  Some chapters, are organizing clinics locally where they are better able to comply with the existing safety requirements and respective state/country regulations.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its variants are being experienced quite differently depending on state, region, country, vaccine availability, vaccine acceptance, and the spread of SARS-COV-2 variants. Most VOSH chapters are not holding clinics or traveling internationally in 2021 or 2022.

If a VOSH Chapter choses to hold a clinic or travel internationally, we highly recommend that the chapter performs due diligence to comply fully with the requirements established by the visited country, ensures all VOSH volunteers are aware of and follow strict safety guidelines and all existing protocols and regulations of the country, and keeps the principle of “do no harm” embedded in all its decision making. As always, the wellbeing and safety for VOSH volunteers and our patients is of utmost importance and central to any decision-making process. We have published our updated clinic guidelines with best practices to be observed in this new context. VOSH chapters in specific countries are using protocols that need to be considered as well. You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here.

*VOSH/International is formed by autonomous US and international chapters that are fully and only responsible for their activities, fundraising and decision-making.  VOSH/International can only provide recommendations based on our best knowledge and information at the time.

Also please keep checking the following sites with official and most recent updates:

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

US CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/when-to-delay-travel.html

US Government Travel Advise: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

Michael Ciszek, OD, dipl ABO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

December 2021