Last fall the Mennonite Centre began a new project providing glasses for pensioners in the community. Earlier we had noticed that only one of the 70-80 seniors coming for tea every Tuesday and Friday was wearing glasses. We began to think of how diminished life would be with limited vision, and what a difference improved sight could make for our people. But where to begin? We tried to find an optometrist and eventually connected with Dr. Tatyana Kraskovska at the Tokmak hospital. She agreed to come to Molochansk weekly to provide eye tests, but first we had to find equipment. Through the resourcefulness of our manager Dema, we were able to procure a set of 232 testing lenses and eye charts. These had to be shipped from Kiev.
What a joy it was when our church back home agreed to fund the project. As of today we have provided just over 200 pairs of glasses. Designer frames they are not, however, the glasses are sturdy and servicable and cost less than $5/pair - price includes the eye examination. If people wish to have different frames they pay for these themselves. Currently waiting time for an examination is a month. The next step is visiting schools and providing glasses for students with poor vision whose parents cannot afford to pay.
Baba Anna, the woman whose stove was replaced, has also received glasses. She tells us from now on she will go nowhere without them. Recently, in Tokmak, she was accosted by an undesirable person. Had she been wearing her glasses, she said, she would've noticed this person coming and avoided the confrontation. Alexandra and Lydia were here for tea today and both expressed deep appreciation for their glasses. Alexandra tells how much she enjoys being able to read again and she can now write letters to her sister. Lydia just received her glasses today and is looking forward to what lies ahead for her. Not everyone is a candidate for improved vision. This little lady told us that her eyes tear constantly and her vision is blurred - glasses can't help her.
People keep coming to the Centre daily with various needs and requests. They are always greeted by a friendly receptionist. Meet Leanna Zayats. She started working part-time four years ago, helping in the kitchen, cleaning and reception as needed. In addition she hops on her bicycle and runs errands for us. When we agree to help people with prescriptions, Leanna goes to the pharmacy to purchase the medication. We've learned that it is much better not to hand out cash. Leanna is a single mom, raising two teen-age daughters, living on less than $100 a month. Her girls are good students. The younger daughter is working hard, hoping to qualify for a Centre scholarship so she can go on to university. Like the rest of our staff, Leanna has a large kitchen garden raising vegetables to sustain herself and family through the year. She is very grateful for her job and we value her contribution.