April Ministry Spotlight – Eye and Ear Clinic

Dr. Asa exams patient

In the year 2000 MOL was blessed to have Dr Asa Talbot (Lieut.Colonel, US Army Medical Corps, retired) and his lovely wife, Jean, an RN, to join us. They offered to build and staff a much-needed  eye clinic in a joint partnership.  We would supply the grounds and infrastructure and they would develop, staff, and fund the eye clinic.

At the present, some 16 years later, I’m happy to report that these two highly-committed servants of our Lord have served thousands of Haitians with a multitude of eye problems and impaired vision.  They have supplied them with medication and eye drops for problems such as eye infections and glaucoma, and have fitted hundreds with glasses.  Thanks to this devoted couple of medical professionals many people of all ages have had their vision restored; many of whom are able to read the bibles we’ve given them for the first time ever.

May God richly bless Asa and Jean for their years of hard work and sacrifice on behalf of the poor, the halt, the lame and the blind of Haiti. 

Dr Bob and Betty, Palm Bay, FL.

Interview with Asa & Jean Talbot

What brought about the Eye & Ear Clinic?

Jean and I have been with MOL since 2000 and originally worked in the general medical field with Dr, Bob and Miss Betty.  Shortly after that we noticed the critical shortage of affordable eye care. Although my training is primarily in the field of ear, nose and throat, God apparently had a different plan for our work. Years before, during my Army service, I was trained as a Naval Flight Surgeon. Since these doctors serve for months at sea on carriers they are taught to treat and refract eyes as well as give other care to the aviators. An ophthalmologist friend came into possession of the office equipment of a deceased optometrist and needed to move it on. When asked if I could use it, I immediately saw how it could become a vital ministry in a land with great needs and people with few resources. We shipped it in and set up clinic in the Steel Building (where we also slept and was the only building on the compound then). Within two years we needed dedicated space and built and equipped the current Eye/Ear Clinic.

What about the Ear part of the equation?

There has never been as great a need for ear care as opposed to eye. We are equipped to do basic office ENT and see an occasional ENT patient but we have never had the operating room or staff to do ENT surgery. For the first few years we had an audiologist with us who tested hearing and supplied hearing aids and training for the hearing impaired .but her priorities changed. We still have that capability if the Lord moves someone to pick up the thread.

MOL Eye ClinicObviously God’s hand is on this work but how are you able to continue it?

We have received donations of used equipment and have generous pharmaceutical companies who see the needs of the Third World as a humanitarian  issue and provide medications. By the Grace of God, Jean and I have been able to receive generous support from several churches and close friends, and we have been blessed to have some of our own funds provided that this work could be continued without taxing the already burdened medical clinic and mission. At the same time generous printing ministries have supplied literature which allows us to have an evangelical aspect by passing out pamphlets, witnessing to patients, supporting the adult literacy program through free exams and supplying Bibles and literature to area churches. Of course, this ministry has always been involved in the general activity of MOL in spite of being a unique medical specialty.

What do you offer the Haitian people that makes your ministry relevant?  

It is a terrible thing to not be able to see well enough to sew, read your Bible or see the blackboard in school. We offer testing of vision (as well as minor office level eye care), test and treat for glaucoma, provide glasses for those who need them (again often donated by the Lions) and arrange for complex lenses for those who need them. While there are doctors and facilities in Haiti that offer these services,  the cost for the poor is prohibitive and they do not get what they need. We also detect cataracts and other blinding problems and are hoping to one day be able to interest ophthalmologists who would be able to offer surgical solutions.

What has been the impact of your ministry?

Because we show the love of Christ to people who would otherwise not have usable sight people come from all over Haiti and the surrounding islands to be seen and told that God loves them (Jesu remen ou). We are seeing over 1200 people a year, giving glasses to some 500 and holding back the progress of glaucoma in about 350 souls. We also served the general medical needs after the earthquake and through the cholera epidemic a year later. Dr. Asa preaches every Sunday the weather allows.

Guerby examinesAs you are approaching retirement from active mission work what does the future hold?

We are trying to attract younger people in all aspects of the mission work and this one belongs to God. Jehovah Jireh  (The God Who Provides) will supply our needs. We would go on as long as we can but, although the work has not been a physical burden, the travel to and from is taxing and we cannot do what we did when we were younger. It has been our mission goal from the beginning to equip the Haitian people to succeed on their own. In keeping with this we have trained Haitians as technicians to do the basic work and are in negotiations with a young Haitian ophthalmologist about part time participation. Our Haitian staff does a wonderful job and has learned well.

If He saw the need in the beginning, He will carry the good work to completion.