by: Brooke Skinner
Sometimes the smallest choices in life can have the most meaningful impact. A simple “yes” response to a volunteer opportunity to learn how to make reading glasses for the Auburn study abroad program in Fiji has proven to provide more blessings than I could have possibly imagined.
The program director, Dr. Kate Thornton, took us to a missions-based organization, Evangelism Explosion International, to be trained to make the glasses. After learning how to make the glasses, we then purchased kits that allowed you to make several hundred glasses and brought them with us to Vorovoro and Mali Island, in hopes of setting up a microenterprise.
Once I arrived to Vorovoro, I showed the chief of Vorovoro and Mali Island, Tui Mali, the process of making the reading glasses so that he could decide who would be best to train. Much to my relief, everything went smoothly, and I was able to effectively communicate the process and idea with Tui Mali. He was so thankful for the glasses and very excited about the potential that this skill and kit could bring to his community.
He informed me that not being able to read was a real problem for his community, and reading glasses were hard to come by. One of the Fijians informed me that he had a hard time reading his Bible, and since religion is a very important part of their culture, it is easy to see how not having access to reading glasses can negatively impact someone’s life.
Over the next few days, many of the Fijians approached me asking for reading glasses. Even some of the government leaders in Mali Island came to Vorovoro to see what the reading glasses news was all about. Although my hands became quite tired making over thirty reading glasses in just two days, my soul could not have been more awake.
After realizing the impact the glasses was having in their community, I was so thankful to play a part in improving the lives of the people of Vorovoro and Mali Island. Simply giving a few hours to learn this skill ended up making a lifetime’s worth of difference for this community, and I cannot put into words how special that feeling was.