Shelby Wuerfel took a life-changing trip to Tanzania, a country in Africa sandwiched between Kenya, Uganda, the Congo and Zambia. It is the home of Mount Kilimanjaro, and other picturesque views that motivate many travelers to visit for sightseeing and adventure.
Shelby wasn’t there to vacation – rather she was there to make a difference. Through a charity called OneSight.org, an initiative via Lenscrafters, Shelby received the most incredible experience to be boots on the ground, helping those in need, young and old. Read more about her story of missions here.
Giving the gift of sight is something I will never forget or take for granted. We were able to help more than 3,000 people as a group of 50, made up mostly of optometrists, lab experts and just generous people, who love volunteering.
We were in Dar es Salaan. We saw an extremely high percentage of children with cataracts - to the point where the cataracts severely impacted their vision. They had never had the opportunity to have glasses to correct their vision.
Free cataract surgeries were performed and I have to say this was genuinely the happiest group of people I had ever met. They had absolutely nothing and waited in line for days to get the help they needed. They were always smiling and so joyful.
They taught us their language of Swahili and almost everyone hugged us and were struck with pure shock because this was the first time they had ever seen clearly. Most of the adults would start to cry - it really tugged at your emotions!
This was my first time traveling outside of the USA. I would do it again in a heartbeat. You read about countries that are essentially rich or poor, and it’s true, there is no middle class there. That's what we experienced - extreme poverty.
It truly makes you appreciate the luxuries we have and our problems don’t even touch what they have to deal with and worry about. Re acclimating back to home was a culture shock – it was hard. I have learned so much in my travels and I encourage everyone to step outside of their comfort zones to experience life in a different light.