By Ivy Gray-Klein ‘14
Angela Allard ’14 spent this past summer volunteering for Unite for Sight, a nonprofit health organization devoted to empowering global clinics with a focus on eye health and preventing blindness. Stationed in Ghana, Allard facilitated check-ups and provided educational health talks.
“I literally spanned the whole country,” said Allard. “I went from the southernmost tip where the capital is, all the way to the top. We would drive up to six hours to visit remote villages.”
At each destination, Allard and her peers worked with local, established clinics to provide health services. This also meant providing transportation for patients needing cataract surgery and subsidizing medication costs.
“Unite for Sight funds these clinics to reach more people. We’re trying to build their local healthcare structure and encourage the system they have,” she explained.
Allard was required to complete an intensive, week-long training program before her departure. She also had to bring 600 pairs of donated glasses. Through a successful letter-writing campaign, she brought 1,200.
“It’s a very thorough organization. That’s why I chose to work with them,” she said. “I learned how to perform checks for visual acuity, how to dispel misconceptions about health care, and how to take ethical medical photographs.”
A mathematics major on the pre-med track, Allard plans to attend graduate school for public health. Her interest in the subject was solidified through her experience in Ghana. Currently enrolled in the 360° course cluster To Protect the Health of the Public, she’s been able to apply her field experience directly to her studies.
“The medical field requires much more than a strict science background,” said Allard. “Bryn Mawr teaches you to not see things as one-dimensional. You learn to analyze issues from all different viewpoints. The sociological and cultural aspects of medicine are just as important.”
Allard previously visited Ghana in high school through AFS-USA, volunteering at an orphanage.
“There is something different about Bryn Mawr students. I definitely saw that in the field. When I first went to Ghana, I was less informed and didn’t understand why things were the way they were. Bryn Mawr has empowered me and given me a lot of compassion for people,” Allard says. “With everyone coming from very different cultures and countries, it’s become easier for me to form relationships with people from different backgrounds.”
Allard heard about Unite for Sight from Kristina Sandquist ’13, who traveled with the program in 2012. Her trip was made possible through Dean’s Office funding. Allard was the recipient of the Ariadne Solter Fund, which supports global development.