The ¨Gracias a Dios¨ Factor – A Campaign Tale from San Ramon, Matagalpa

3 07 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011 we held a campaign in San Ramon, Matagalpa.  We were coming off a strong campaign the week earlier and had already publicized the event around town, so spirits were high.

After a quick bus ride we gathered in front of the building in which we’d hold the campaign and went over our goals and the game-plan.

My job was to give eye exams, but first we had some more publicity to do.  Billy and I went out into the city, door to door, and spread the word about the “exámenes de la vista gratis,” plus the other products and services we offer.  As reinforcement, there was also a pickup truck with concert speakers driving around blasting the same message.

To switch things up a little, we then grabbed some sidewalk chalk and made gigantic arrows at the busier intersections with labels like ‘Luz Solar’ and ‘Focos Ahorradores’.  It was fun and the locals loved seeing the crazy gringos chalk up the street.

When we got back to the campaign, the line was out the door. On the one hand, this was great because it meant our publicity had been effective; on the other hand, it was pouring rain.

In the eye exam room, I began by observing.  I had the benefit of working with Social Entrepreneur Corps field leader Tess, who’s a seasoned eye exam veteran fluent in spanish.  After picking up some necessary vocabulary, like dañar, as in ‘you can dañar (harm) your eyes if you leave your reading glasses when you don’t need them’, I started giving eye exams on my own.
Up until that moment, my experience with Social Entrepreneur Corps had been incredible.  We dove right into our work and fully experienced the culture of this beautiful country.  The gratification of the eye exams, however, was beyond anything I’d ever experienced.  Seeing the ‘Gracias a dios’ factor, as it’s called around here, was something I’ll never forget.  Helping a 65 year old woman regain her ability to read after 30 years and the emotions on her face was beyond words. The happiness on their faces was real, instant and long-term.
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