It wasn’t just beaches and mai tai’s for the Linkenheimer team and their families as they spent over a week in beautiful Nicaragua. Continuing a tradition of service in the region, John Jones led two different groups from Linkenheimer down the rural region of the Rio San Juan, with the goal of delivering eye exams and prescription glasses which would have otherwise have been unattainable.
Linkenheimer traditionally enjoys a team vacation in January as a thank you for a job well done and a bonding experience before the trials of a busy tax season. This year, the team building was magnified with the opportunity of “going down the river”.
A typical “going down the river” experience usually entails: Flying into Managua; chartering a small, 16 seat plane which flies you over Lake Nicaragua (the 10th largest fresh water lake in the world), landing on the dirt “runway” in San Carlos; from there you are shuttled in trucks to the river front, where the team boards long boats, which make their way down the winding river until they reach the serene, yet primitive Sabalos Lodge. Then the real adventure begins.
The team then travels by boat to the village, where they setup their operations in a school building. From there they provide eye exams, determine the prescription and then provide the necessary eye glasses and then fit them.
During the mission in Sabalos the teams examined 898 patients and distributed 765 pair of prescription eye glasses and 524 pair of sunglasses all for free. The sunglasses are key in helping prevent cataracts, which they also screen for. Cataracts are quite common in the region due to the daily sun exposure over the course of a lifetime. For those with severe cases they noted their contact info for possible future surgery at the soon to be built Sabalos Surgery Center.
The trip was a success on many levels. With 765 people receiving the gift of vision, the Linkenheimer team was able to leave a lasting impression in the area. And the appreciation and genuine thanks the Nicaraguans show is something that is hard to describe. I think those that served would all say they get more out of it than they gave. And they gave it their all.