We warned them in advance that ours would hardly be the orderly affair they have in other places, with proper appointments and people waiting in nice organised queues ... but amazingly this didn't put them off - brave souls.
On the morning in question, last Thursday, Kenneth and I were phoned by Irina who had arrived ahead of us that the day centre had been broken into. Initially we were a little shocked and upset but when we realised that only a few items of clothing were missing and that nothing had been damaged. Irina couldn't understand our calmness until we explained that in the UK such an event would usually be accompanied by acts of wanton vandalism.
At 1100 intrepid eye testing team arrived to find the place swarming with Police - three round the back dusting for fingerprints and looking for other evidence and two taking statements (one in above photo). A rather novel start to the day we thought ... at least things are never boring.
The Police were great and very pleasant too - we were impressed by the speed at which they arrived and by their thoroughness. For us it was another first as we all had our fingerprints taken ... great fun for all concerned. I found the three page long statement in Romanian challenging and had to keep asking for help with the finer points of Romanian grammar! As the Police left we invited them to drop in for coffee if they're ever in the area.
Meanwhile, Dave and co. had set up their gear and were ready to start testing. A local pastor came to help out by doing the initial registering and taking blood pressures and a local girl also came to help with translation.
Many of the homeless people had their eyes tested, as did several people from poor families and some of our neighbours - Dave had said to invite them as a gesture of goodwill for all that they put up with from our "clients" ... what a great idea, and besides, most of them are quite poor too.
Some received glasses there and then and were delighted, others had them made up and we are in the process of giving them out, but others with more complicated problems have to wait until September when two Optometrists are coming out. In Romania, poor people don't ever visit an optician as there is no free provision for people on no or low incomes. One woman said she had simply accepted the fact that she hadn't been able to see clearly for years and never would again. How sad that something so easy to correct and something we in the west take for granted is out of the reach of so many people in the world. We were moved to see the gratitude of some of the people who were helped with a simple pair of glasses and are hoping to develop this aspect of our work as part of our future basic health care programme.