LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Doctor Richard Ruckman said his recent trip to Belize mad not only an impact on his patients but on him as well.
"I think this [mission] is worthwhile," Ruckman said. "It has made me a believer."
Ruckman left his position at The Center for Sight for one week to perform surgeries in a remote and poor area of the Central American Country. The trip was with the non-profit Benevolent Mission International.
Ruckman said he is used to seeing many of the cases he saw, but was also amazed at the age of many patients.
"For many of these individuals this was their first ever eye exam," Ruckman said. "We would see school children come in and be amazed at their need for glasses."
Ruckman was joined by doctors and volunteers from all over the United States to perform the surgeries on the native people.
"To me the biggest challenge was walking in to a strange clinic and operating room environment," Ruckman said. "But then you just remember what you were trained for and figure it all out."
Ruckman said he was amazed by the response of the patients.
"They were remarkably grateful for anything we did, and that's many times after traveling for hours and waiting more hours," Ruckman said.
The trip left an everlasting impact on the first-time volunteer.
"It was really gratifying to have the sense of graciousness and appreciation that they showed towards us," Ruckman said.
Ruckman is planning to return to the clinic next summer. His office, The Center for Sight in Lufkin and Livingston, is accepting used eye glasses that will be sent to the Benevolent Missions International Clinic's in Belize and American Samoa.
For more information on the mission, click here.