We did 1,049 exams, dispensed 1,109 pairs of eyeglasses, and gave out 1,044 sunglasses. This has been our most successful trip yet!
Fr. Salvador Schlaefer, son of Mathias and Mamie Schlaefer of Campbellsport, Wisconsin, was a newly ordained Capuchin Priest in 1947. His first assignment was to serve the people of Eastern Nicaragua in Central America. Many of the remote villages were accessible only by horseback, boat, or on foot. Bishop Sal was ordained Bishop of Bluefields Nicaragua in 1970 and he continued to serve the people until his death in 1993.
In 1997 the Capuchin Order invited Dr.'s Anthony and Ann Schlaefer, Fr. Sal's brother and niece, to provide much needed eye care to the people of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. The doctors accompanied by four other family members made their first trip carrying suitcases full of donated glasses and sunglasses. The eye glasses were donated from the Campbellsport area churches and Lions Clubs. 600 Nicaraguans received eye exams and glasses.
Since that time, the eye care group has expanded to 12 volunteers, returning to remote Nicaraguan villages every two years. They continue to collect used eyeglasses, sunglasses, and ocular medications and distribute them to the Nicaraguan people who have little or no access to eye care.
In 2010, the non-profit organization, sharing a legacy, or SAL, was created. Named after Bishop Salvador Schlaefer, SAL continues his efforts in Nicaragua by helping cover the costs incurred when shipping instruments, glasses, and supplies to the villages.
Recently, SAL shipped 1,200 pairs of glasses. We are continuing to collect used eyeglasses and sunglasses for our next trip in the February of 2012.