Dr. Oo checks vision for a lady from the village, Mrs Amelia Sataua, during the Lions Project Eye Care outreach in the village of Fagasa this month. More than 100 residents had eye exams and vision screening. [courtesy photo]

For the Lions Club of Pago Pago, the spirit of service carries over from one generation to the next, and from one administration to the next. There are no islands too remote, no villages too far, when the Lions decide to bring their volunteer spirit and their positive energy to the people of the territory.

The tiny village of Fagasa, best known in our day as the place of the most winning fautasi team, was devastated by the tsunami of September, 2009. This September, the village received a visit not from mother nature, but from a more benevolent group, bringing vision care and reading glasses to the people who live on the sunset side of Tutuila.

A signature project for the Lions, both here and around the world, is Project Eye Care. An ongoing outreach program meant to care for, restore, retain and encourage healthy vision, the Lions have for several years brought this special care—doctors, nurses, technicians, equipment, medicine, screening and glasses— to the residents of American Samoa. 

The last Eye Care outreach under Lion president Cinta Brown took the Lions to Tau, in the Manu’a islands; the first Eye Care outreach under the new administration of president Isabel Hudson brought members of the club, along with their youth group, the Leos, to Fagasa, over the mountain pass and into the lovely sheltered harbor that is the ancestral home of the newest Lion president.

And true to Lion spirit, in spite of a torrential downpour and windy weather, on the first Saturday of September, Lions made sure that over 100 residents of Fagasa had their eyes checked, their vision screened, and were given reading and prescription glasses.

Led by president Isabel and LBJ ophthalmologist Dr. Ernest Oo, fourteen members of the club turned out to help, along with nineteen members of the Leo Club of South Pacific Academy, the Lions school-based youth group who are in training for community service under the direction of the Lions..

According to 1st Vice President Chris King, Dr. Oo provided diagnosis and consultation, and reported that of the 106 patients screened the following was discovered: (8) cataract cases needing surgery; (24) diabetes cases needing follow up, (1) glaucoma case, (7) pterygium cases and  (80) patients needing eye glasses. Additionally, (7) school children eye examinations were conducted and 102 pairs of glasses dispensed.

Unchecked diabetes cases are a particular concern, because left untreated, diabetic retinopathy, an irreversible –but completely preventable–blindness will occur. With the preventive measures of vision screening and eye checkups, along with addressing the lifestyle changes which must be made for those with diabetes, it is a blindness which can be avoided.

The estimated cost of the services provided in Fagasa is equivalent to USD $5,300; however,  all services and eye glasses provided were free-of-charge to the patients.

From registration to issuing eye glasses there are four stages, which include vision screening, consultation, supplied eye glasses and services and evaluation/analysis and report.

Said Lion King, “This event was made special by the members of the South Pacific Academy LEO Club on site to lend a hand with set-up, acuity tests, sorting and dispensing of glasses, and clean-up.” Lion member and SPA principal Evelyn Lili’o Satele added, “Their experience serving the community was invaluable and they are looking forward to their next opportunity to do so again.”

The clinic was held in the CCCAS church hall from 8am to 1pm, and according to Lion President Isabel, “while Fagasa was chosen for many reasons, most importantly, it had never been visited before by any group such as the Lions. The faifeau and the chiefs of the village, including the pulenu’u, were all very appreciative of our efforts.”

To learn more about the Lions Club, the world’s largest all volunteer community service organization, go to www.lions.org. If you wish to support the Lions Club of Pago Pago in their ongoing efforts to bring eye care and other projects to the community, their yearly fundraiser, the Lions Golf Tournament being held tomorrow will be a good place to stop by and show your support.

The motto of the Lions Club worldwide is “We Serve”. And they do.


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