Park City nonprofit The Hope Alliance looks for volunteers for its next expedition to Uganda
February 20, 2018
Volunteers for The Hope Alliance's Bwindi expedition will see the sights of remote Uganda. More importantly, though, they'll help the region's denizens do the same.
The Hope Alliance is a local nonprofit that provides free vision care services to underserved populations both in Utah and around the globe. The group recently undertook an expedition to a heavily populated area of Guatemala, and also works with people in Summit and Wasatch counties and the Goshute reservation.
Alex Bostrom, operations manager for The Hope Alliance, said the nonprofit is still seeking volunteers for its annual expedition to Uganda, which is set to take place near the end of this summer. The organization is also developing a scholarship system where private donors will be able to fund part or all of a volunteer's trip, excluding airfare. Bostrom said a volunteer should expect to pay $2,500..
Bostrom gave a tentative timetable for the trip of late July to early August, though the dates are subject to change. A supply chain issue caused the date of the expedition to be moved back from mid-April.
The expedition focuses on the Bwindi region of southwestern Uganda, a rugged, ultra-remote location and a crossroads for inhabitants of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The region is also home to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a national park known for its lowland gorilla population.
Vision care is sorely needed in developing nations and especially hard to come by in places that are difficult to access.
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While optometrists and ophthalmologists are needed, Bostrom stressed that anyone, with almost any skill set, can volunteer for an expedition and contribute to the cause. Training sessions in vision care are also offered at The Hope Alliance's headquarters.
"Everybody kind of finds their niche," Bostrom said. "Don't be intimidated to try something new even if you're a lay volunteer or someone who doesn't have any experience in the optical field."
The nonprofit also needs donated pairs of eyeglasses, Bostrom said. A formal drive hasn't been set up yet.
Once in the country, the group operates out of the Bwindi Community Hospital, a modern facility funded and built by the Kellermann Foundation. The hospital is a rare facility of its kind in faraway regions like Bwindi.
"The goal of creating a vision component at BCH has launched and will continue to grow through the coordinated efforts of The Hope Alliance and the Kellermann Foundation," said Dell Fuller, chair of The Hope Alliance's board of directors.
Last year's expedition served 1,090 people, and Bostrom said that a turnout of between 17 to 20 volunteers would help to top that number and help even more residents.
Volunteers interested in joining The Hope Alliance on the late-summer vision care expedition to Uganda should contact Alex Bostrom at email@example.com or at 435-333-3334.
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