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Students mark graduation with Medical Ministry International Canada project to Peru

Posted on Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ancaster High’s Ava van Heerden and St. Mary’s Jordan Robinson travel to Peru

Hamilton Community News

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Ava van Heerden (second left) and Jordan Robinson (second right) will celebrate their 18th birthdays by participating in a two-week vision care project this summer in Peru. – Submitted photo

Cousins Ava van Heerden and Jordan Robinson will celebrate their high school graduations with a two-week vision care mission in Peru.

Their grandparents, Dundas residents Penny and Bruce Evenden, will also participate in the project, which is organized through Medical Ministry International (MMI) Canada. The organization works in 14 countries by providing general medicine and surgery, vision, dental and physiotherapy programs to those in need.

Barbara Skinner, managing director of MMI Canada, says a small fee is charged for those who can afford it, but no one is turned away.

“Our aim is to develop an awareness and appreciation of the cost to provide health care, and promote dignity without creating and environment of paternalism,” she said.

Penny Evenden, a retired physiotherapist, and Bruce, a retired teacher, have participated in 11 MMI Canada projects since 2008, while their son, Tim Evenden is chair of the board of directors.

With the family involvement, teenagers Ava and Jordan have grown up listening to stories about projects in countries like Bolivia, Columbia, Honduras, Peru and Mexico.

Some of those stories, say the Evendens, include grandparents seeing their grandchildren for the first time following cataract surgery, or the radiant smile of a teenage girl whose look has been transformed with an artificial eye.

The couple also collects and sorts eyeglasses with many other volunteers at the MMI Canada warehouse on Barton Street in Stoney Creek. The glasses are then distributed during vision projects in developing countries.

As non-medical volunteers, Ava, an Ancaster High student, and Jordan, who attends St. Mary, will assist as general helpers with crowd monitoring, registration and providing reassurance through smiles and kindness.

The teens have to raise money for both the flight and a mission fee to Peru, which covers food, accommodation and in-country transportation fees. To donate or learn more, visit www.mmi.org.

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