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Wheatbelt nurse practitioner Regina Lau was among a group of volunteers who recently provided eye care services and glasses to vision impaired people in Sri Lanka, Laos, and Cambodia.

Regina coordinated the Eye Care Outreach program in March 2023 as part of the Global Hand Charity, visiting the Kilinochchi, Mulaidevu, and Trincomalee regions in Sri Lanka.

Aided by local translators, Regina and fellow volunteer nurses and optometrists saw more than 500 people each day of the mission.

“Our goal is to deliver ocular health to communities identified as being ‘high need’,” Regina said.

“The eye care screenings we conducted were mainly in rural areas and regional hospitals where access to eye care is very limited.”

Global Hand Charity facilitates health outreach programs to communities in need all over the world, with eye care services identified as a key priority. All volunteers fund their own travel, which means all fundraising goes directly to communities in need.

Working in difficult conditions, Regina said the team worked tirelessly to get through as many patients needing care as possible.

“Sri Lanka is currently experiencing a deep economic crisis. In our first week of screening, we served 2,000 patients and gave out nearly 3,000 pairs of free glasses.

“We also booked 400 patients for cataract surgeries to be performed by an aligned charity group.”

Despite the trying conditions Regina felt privileged to participate in the mission.

“To restore vision to 2,000 people and provide dignity to those in need is an incredible feeling.

“Sight is something we take for granted. Many issues can be easily treated, but for these people it was out of reach.

“To hear them say ‘I can see’ is so powerful; their lives have been transformed. It’s why I keep going back.”

Regina believes there are parallels between her mission to these ‘forgotten communities’ and some parts of remote WA.

“To bring about improved quality of life and better employment and educational opportunities by restoring sight to these vulnerable people is not much different to the work we do here in WA in some remote communities.”

“There are challenges with the vastness of our State. It is important that we are able to provide quality health care to all, despite their location. Every person has a right to this.”

Regina plans to participate in another Global Hand Charity mission overseas early next year.

Acknowledgement of Country