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Here is Elisabeth Duncan, Optician and IRIS Mundial volunteer. Elisabeth took part in nine one-time projects with IRIS Mundial, starting in Iquitos, Peru in 2004. When she got involved in international cooperation for the first time, Elizabeth discovered a true passion and since then, she never stopped participating in missions with IRIS Mundial and other organizations. During her last mission with us in Miragoâne, Haiti, Elisabeth was the Dispensary and Eyewear Manager, leading the team responsible to find the best pair of used glasses for patients’ needs. This task involved a colossal amount of work both before and during the field mission. In fact, in the months preceding the mission, Elisabeth travelled from Gatineau to the Saint-Jérôme warehouse to help prepare the pairs of glasses (sorting, analysis, classification). This example among others highlights how Elizabeth puts her body and soul in her work when she gets involved in a project. Here is what she had to tell us regarding her involvement:

“Going on a mission is going towards people. It is the sharing of knowledge and cultures. Firstly, it’s meeting the team that will share a unique experience with you. People full of energy who work together towards a same goal. Generous and imaginative people who will do everything to make the mission a success. It’s also meeting the partners on the field who welcome us with open arms, eager for knowledge, and who will do anything to help us and offer us the best with the local resources available. And finally, it’s meeting the patients, the people who welcome us as “stars”. People who mostly have very little, but are often happy, smiling, and very resilient.

Seeing and living such experiences reminds us of the fundamental values in our lives and it is very rewarding. Doing international cooperation missions, we either like or dislike. For me, it was a turning point. These missions have left a mark on my heart and right now, I can’t live without them. Each mission has its own incredibly beautiful moment of glory when we could say: “Mission accomplished”. However, the truth is that every little help we give to patients is important for them. Obviously, my first IRIS Mundial mission in the Peruvian Amazon in 2004 will remain the most important to me, because it was the trigger for this beautiful and sweet madness that inhabits me and nourishes my life ever since.

Thank you to the founder, Jean-Pierre Tchang, and to IRIS Mundial for giving me this incredible privilege of being part of this great family. “