Presenting Lyne Paré, physician and IRIS Mundial volunteer. Lyne has participated in more than 15 international missions from 1 to 3 weeks, in Peru, Haiti, Mexico, Benin and Indonesia, mostly with IRIS Mundial, but also with Terre sans Frontières and the UPA-DI. The volunteers who know Dr. Lyne describe her as a caring and kind person, always greeting people with a smile, and taking the time to listen to them, ease their pain and reassure them. “There’s a lot to say concerning my dear friend, the one I had the privilege to work with during a few missions in Peru. We were a real team: I called her Dr. Welby and to her I was Dr. Kelly, like in the American TV show! We could always count on the comforting presence and good care of Dr. Lyne 24 hours a day: she was always ready like a soldier to solve the problem! », mentioned Johanne de Champlain, IRIS Mundial volunteer and Lyne’s friend during missions.

To allow you to travel in thought with us, here is a personalized description of IRIS Mundial one-time projects through Lyne’s eyes:

“I started doing international cooperation when I needed a change in my life following a difficult period. At the time, my optometrist Jean-Pierre Tchang passionately told me about his missions abroad, at each of my appointments with him. He had stars in his eyes each time! In the fall of 2002, I was carried away by his enthusiasm and accepted his invitation to a mission in Huaraz, in the Peruvian mountains, without realizing exactly what adventure it would be, or how these 2 weeks would change my life.

At first, I started by adjusting eyewear. Quickly, I became the doctor in charge of the volunteer’s good health, in addition to carry out pre-op exams for eye surgery cases and general consultations. These missions are accomplished in collaboration with local partners for logistics, patient recruitment and ensuring the project’s continuity. It’s also essential to obtain all the Ministry of Health and hospitals authorizations necessary to bring in medical equipment and to work with the nursing staff and volunteers on site, in order to establish a real exchange of knowledge and to carry out training.

We have people who walk a whole day to have a consultation with us, and others who stand at the door of the clinic all night to get early access to eyecare the next day. They line up and wait for hours, standing, often without food, in the hot sun or rain. They welcomed us warmly, without complaining. In a week’s  work, the team can examine around 2,500 patients and perform over 30 eye surgery. It is quite moving to see a blind person regain his sight or a child discover the world around him, simply by putting on a pair of glasses. Each person who consults also receives sunglasses to protect their eyes.

The working conditions are not always easy: extreme heat, altitude, blackouts, lack of water, material damage, sometimes having to share a dormitory with 20 people with only one toilet/shower. Moreover, volunteers can also suffer from exhaustion, gastroenteritis, dehydration and culture shock. In this case, you need a great capacity to adapt, a good team spirit, and being imaginative since you often work with few resources. The support of the group is important, and everyone lives each moment intensely. We all work with enthusiasm and motivation towards the same goal, which is providing quality care to the most disadvantaged, with respect and without judgment.

After my 1st mission, it became a necessity: I wanted to add something to my life and to the ones less fortunate than me. We see great inequalities on the field, we want to fill some of them, do our best to change the world, one person at a time, one action at a time. One of my most vivid memories is my mission in Huari, at high altitude. It’s also the mission where I worked the most because nearly all the volunteers were sick, and some quite seriously. Each day at lunchtime, after the consultations at the hospital, I went to the monastery where we were staying to take care of sick and bedridden volunteers. During this walk, I admired the landscape, the mountains, the people who worked with a smile on their face and greeting me as I passed. It seemed unreal, so much beauty and so much misery at the same time. Time was suspended between two worlds of suffering. If God exists, it’s in Huari that one feels closest to him.

I have met extraordinary people and made great encounters, within the Quebec volunteer teams as well as local teams. People have moved me with their kindness, their openness, their resilience and their love of life, despite difficult living conditions. I have discovered warm people with big hearts who are just happy to be alive. Each mission gives an energy boost, nourishes the soul and helps to become a better person. “