In seven of the past eleven years Dr. Rabins has gone on a medical missions trip to another country, where he has performed eye care for some of the poorest people in the world. In 2004 he visited a remote area in the Aragats region of Armenia, and since has been six times to El Salvador, four to Abelines, one to El Cerro (a community where many have never seen an American, let alone an American doctor), and the latest trip to La Isla where they have never had a medical team of any kind.
Abelines is a village on a mountain in southeastern El Salvador near the Honduran border. It has a population of 2,000–4,000, with another 6,000 scattered along the mountain. They are extremely poor, with most living on less than $1 a day. There is neither electricity (the fortunate ones use car batteries in their homes) nor running water (no toilets, only outhouses). The people grow crops and raise animals, walking 2-4 hours to get to stores where they buy and sell products.
The para-church group with whom Dr. Rabins works periodically brings in a doctor who provides primary care. However, the people cannot afford to see an optometrist, which is why this team effort is so important. The first year he saw well over a hundred optometry patients during his brief stay in Abelines --but this just scratched the surface of the need there. Many adults over 40 simply needed glasses for doing close-up work and many children needed basic reading glasses for school. A number of patients cried when he placed glasses on them and they could see well, some literally for the first time.
Read Dr. Rabins' most recent missions report here.