El Fuerte, Mexico

VHI has conducted two field programs to El Fuerte, an agricultural city of some 30,000 inhabitants located in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, in the northwestern coastal area of the country. Recognizing the significant need for vision health care in El Fuerte, Dr. Richard Villasenor, a retired ophthalmologist from California, built and equipped a small surgical center and clinic to serve the people in El Fuerte and surrounding region. As we’ve all learned from the movies, “Build it and they will come.”

Visiting ophthalmologists and accompanying surgery teams have provided vision health care for the patients in El Fuerte for several years. In its two field programs, in 2009 and 2010 VHI volunteers have given 540 eye examinations and performed 84 sight restoring and life altering surgeries.

VHI volunteers found El Fuerte a pleasant, efficient, and gratifying place to work. Concern for participant safety has, however, delayed, but not precluded, a return trip some time in the future.