The opening of the Good Hope Trust Health Center in Kibosho-Umbwe, Tanzania, in 2014 was the culmination of years of work by all of us at Artists for World Peace, as well as Good Hope Trust and Josephine Machuwa, and the combined efforts of all our friends from around the world.
After the overwhelming response we received at the health center that year—more than a thousand patients–both villagers and folks from as far away as Kenya—it became clear that we were destined to create a permanent eye care center. When we returned to the U.S. after that first summer, Wendy immediately began planning for our return this year in 2016.
With the help of our friends, Don Fortin of the Massachusetts Lions Club, Professor Raymond Dennis and Dr. Carol Gordon, who mobilized their circles, we received an overwhelming response to our medical wish list.
While there this summer, we will be installing two permanent eye examination rooms, and are establishing an eyeglass dispensary.
We’ve expanded our medical team and are thrilled to announce that this year we will be traveling with two eye care professionals who were with us in 2014, Carol Gordon, O.D., and Professor Raymond Dennis , a licensed optician and contact lens technician, as well two students in their final year at the College of Optometry in Worcester, Mass.
Also joining our team are two nurses, who will play a key role as we prepare for our 2017 medical team.
Traveling with us are three AFWP executive board members, president of the board and founder and executive director, Wendy Black Nasta, treasurer Jennifer Lia, and writer Cynthia Rockwell. In addition, New York city photographer and videographer Claudia Paul will be making her third trip to the region with us.
With the help of our amazing supporters, we are able to fulfill our dream of bringing the best quality of health care to our friends. In 2017, we will establish the very first dental and medical clinic in Kibosho Umbwe.
I am so excited to get back to Kibosho-Umbwe!
Since we returned home, almost two years ago, we have been working on our goal of installing two permanent eye examination rooms in the health center we helped build at the Good Hope Trust Orphanage Center. We already have 1,000 villagers waiting to be seen! A day doesn’t go by where I don’t think about all of our beautiful children and wonder how their day is going. I dream of Josephine and of so many of our friends there waiting for us. We bring along the love of hundreds of friends and supporters who have helped make our work possible and wildly successful! Our shipping container full of the medical supplies arrives in Tanzania on June 10th. We will keep you posted all through the summer on the progress of our eye clinic and on the plans for next year’s dental clinic. It takes a village, and we are deeply grateful for everyone who is on this journey with us. Thank you.
I feel honored to introduce this year’s travel team.
Dr. Carol Gordon and Mike Gordon
Dr. Carol Gordon OD has been practicing optometry on Connecticut’s shoreline for over 30 years. She has participated in eye care mission trips to Central America, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Tanzania. She was part of the 2014 eye care team that opened the first clinic in Kibosho-Umbwe seeing 800 patients over 10 days. She looks forward to returning this year to help alleviate the unending need for vision care. The village has no access to eye care and many patients are unable to work, sew, read or care for themselves due to vision problems that her team can fix! She is grateful for the remarkable gift of vision she is able to help provide! Carol resides in Madison with her husband Mike, where they have raised their 4 children, Matt, Emily, Jake and Zach.
Carols husband Mike Gordon has accompanied her on several trips and is also looking forward to returning to the foothills of Tanzania. During the 2014 trip, Mike got a quick lesson from the master professor optician, Ray Dennis, in the optical dispensary. He got tremendous joy from filling the prescriptions and watching the faces of the villagers light up as they tried on their first ever pair of glasses and could see! When not helping in the clinic, Mike could always be found in the orphanage, playing and laughing with the remarkable children of Kibosho-Umbwe.
Dr. Regina Strand and Thomas Strand
Dr. Regina Strand has been practicing optometry for over 30 years. She and her husband, Mitchel, have offices in Newington, Uncasville and Mystic, Connecticut. In addition to general practice, Dr. Strand specializes in low vision services, helping patients who are visually impaired or legally blind. She currently sits on the board of the Connecticut Board of Examiners for Optometry and the Connecticut Radio Information Service (CRIS). Dr. Strand and her husband reside in Old Saybrook where they have raised their sons, Matthew and Thomas. She is looking forward to her first mission trip to Tanzania.
Thomas Strand is currently a freshman at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, studying Engineering and running for the Track & Field team. Tom was a three year letter winner in track and was named Track Athlete of the Year as well as earning Academic All-State in 2015. Tom also enjoys rowing crew and sailing with his brother, Matthew. Tom is looking forward to his first mission trip and discovering how he can help out at the orphanage and clinic.
Raymond P. Dennis, M.A. (Ed.)
Mr. Dennis is a Professor and Program Coordinator of the Ophthalmic Design and Dispensing Program at Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut. He has been licensed as an Optician and Contact Lens Technician in New York and Connecticut, and is certified by the American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners. Ray lives in Haddam, CT where he serves as President of the Haddam Lions Club. He also is a member of the Board of Directors of Vision Health International (VHI) and the Connecticut Lions Eye Research Foundation (CLERF).
Cynthia Rockwell, an editor in Wesleyan’s Office of Communication, is returning with Wendy and Artists for World Peace for the second time, to continue documenting the group’s work in the small village of Kibosho-Umbwe, Tanzania. More than simply documenting, she wants to see all the children, and Esta in particular. She and Cathy Jackman are “co-mamas” to Esta, sharing in her educational support. Cynthia writes: “I want to return to this place I’ve come to love, to people I’ve come to know as family, and to assist in life in whatever ways I humanly can. To be a traveler with AFWP means to give one’s self over to serving, doing whatever needs to be done—cuddling children, teaching embroidery, playing games where laughter is the only language, giving piggy-back rides, photographing of people wearing their new glasses—and of a doctor performing eye surgery, sorting the glasses by prescription, serving food, making tea, joining in song at a church service, and writing about our journey to share with the world. It is the richest blessing I have ever know.”
Claudia Paul is a New York City based photographer.
After studying photography in her home country Germany she relocated to New York, establishing herself as a commercial, editorial, and documentary photographer. Claudia’s body of work ranging from portraits to reportage illuminates an honest perspective that is markedly her signature style.
Inspired by her power to motivate others to give back, she frequently donates her time and talent to support non-profits.
Claudia traveled to Tanzania twice with Artists for World Peace to photograph and film the group’s work with children affected by HIV/AIDS. No matter if she’s documenting orphans in Africa or portraying CEO’s in Manhattan – Claudia’s work and commitment is all about the human connection.
Claudia, and Artists for World Peace, would like to that the following sponsors:
Kathryn and Detlef Sleichter
Kathryn and Detlef Sleichter—also known as Katy and Hans. Katy is a nurse by trade and currently works as a hospice nurse for Gentiva Hospice of Massachusetts. Hans is a fourth year optometry student at MCPHS University in Worcester, Massachusetts where the couple currently resides. Hans and Katy were both raised in eastern Iowa,and life has been nothing but an adventure for these two. Just seven months after meeting they got married and two weeks later moved out to Worcester, Massachusetts to start their life together. Both of them have a passion to serve others and have dreamed of doing mission outreaches together. The opportunity to partner with Artists of World Peace to go to Tanzania and serve the community there is a dream come true. To be able to use their professions to serve beyond the boundaries of their own country is something they plan to do their whole lives, and look forward to starting that journey in Tanzania.
Umair and Huma Khan
Umair and Huma Khan are American-Pakistani’s from Charlotte, NC and have been married for 7 years. They currently reside in Worcester, MA where they are both completing their education. Umair is a 4th year student in a doctor of Optometry program at MCPHS University. Huma is a Registered Nurse and in her final semester of a Master’s degree as a Nurse Practitioner. Umair and Huma enjoy spending their extra time with family, traveling and exploring various cuisines. Since they’ve been married, both Umair and Huma share a vision to provide healthcare services to those who are underprivileged and lack access to care. They are excited to team up with Artist’s for World Peace to provide eye care in Tanzania. This is the beginning of a larger journey where they plan to continue to provide health care services, education, and enrichment to the lives of others while fulfilling a passion of their own.
By day, Jennifer Lia works as Budget Coordinator for the Yale Law School; by night (and weekends), as Treasurer for Artists for World Peace. She enjoys numbers, making things (jewelry, furniture, cheese – really anything with her hands), traveling, eating good food, and helping people. AfWP has brought many joys to her life, embracing all her passions. It’s a community of people who care for others – no matter who or where they are. This will be Jen’s first trip with AfWP, where she’ll be working with the team in any capacity needed. She’s excited to finally meet the family members she’s only seen in photos and to see first-hand the immense impact this CT-based organization has had on a village in Tanzania, so many miles away. She and her husband, Rob, are “parents” to Rizicki.
*Photos from Tanzania by Claudia Paul (www.claudiapaul.com)