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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Sights on Health, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Eye Diseases, Blindness & Vision Impairments, Health, Health Care, Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Charity & Voluntarism Promotion, Voluntary Health Associations & Medical Disciplines

Mission: Sights on Health, Inc./A Promise to Peru a 501(c)(3) non profit organization. They are committed to providing quality, compassionate care for those whose geographical and/or social status limit their access to medical care. A dedicated group of physicians & health professionals from across the U.S.A., along with allied healthcare students volunteer their time to provide free medical care, eye care and eye surgery to those in need in the U.S.A. and abroad.Basic medical and eye care are provided to people of all ages in these remote areas. Physicians and other health professionals from across the NY metropolitan area and around the United States donate their time and talents towards this effort. They also mentor medical students from Stony Brook, Upstate, NYCOM, St George's, University of Texas and Columbia University, State University of New York optometry students, pharmacology, public health students and undergraduate students from various universities. These students assist the physicians and nurses in their treatment of the hundreds of patients seen daily.

Results: Since the non-profit’s inception, the medical team has accomplished: Our portable eye clinic and operating room has: • examined over 6,000 patients • distributed 10,000 pairs of prescription glasses and sunglasses • performed more than 640 site restoring surgical procedures Our portable medical clinic has: • administered health care to approximately 5,000 patients to people • performed over 365 portable ultrasound examinations

Target demographics: the indigent population

Direct beneficiaries per year: Nearly 100 patients received sight restoring eye surgeries. The Peru medical team examined 600 patients, performed 40 ultrasound exams, and dispensed $5000 worth of medications. Many patients with very poor vision were once again able to see their world and be part of a community once again.

Geographic areas served: remote regions of the Sacred Valley, Peru, Ecuador & Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota

Programs: Annual cataract surgical mission to Ecuador, annual medical & eye care mission to Peru and working with Artists for World Peace to provide eye exams to Native Americans in South Dakota. All health care is provided free of charge.

Community Stories

60 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Julia.Colmenares

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In 2019, I was very fortunate to participate in my eighth and ninth medical mission solely with this wonderful group.
Back in July, we traveled to the beautiful valley of Urubamba, in Peru. Working in the medical group, led by Dr. George Coritsidis, with Dr. Damaris Raymondi, and Dr. Pauline Leone, we were able to see over 800 patients total in both the eye clinic and general medicine teams.
When September came around, I had the opportunity to go to the city of Riobamba, in Ecuador, with the eye surgical group headed by Dr. Debra Messina. Together with surgeons Dr. Mike Sable, Dr. David Krebs and Dr. Allison Angelilli, they formed two teams that performed close to 100 life changing eye surgeries.
While both of these missions required long hours of hard work, seeing the positive results for all patients makes me look forward to the next medical mission I can participate in.
Highly recommended!

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve had the privilege to be a part of this medical mission for over 5 years. For me, it started out as a great group of professionals helping others. I now consider it THE BEST example of a loving family helping our worldly neighbors. This starts out almost a year prior, getting permits and making travel arrangements to make the mission possible. During the days of the mission, in our remote locations, some patients travel long distances to receive medical care for the first time in their lives. I have witnessed time after time, the positive, life changing care given, creates smiles, and even tears of joy, for all involved. This creates a lasting bond between the doctors, nurses, translators, and volunteers to do all this amazing work again. It is truly an honor to have been a part of this outstanding charity.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As volunteer on the September, 2019 trip to Ecuador and a native of Ecuador I'm thankful for this organization! The people I met and join on this trip were amazing people, the way they behave with such integrity , professionalism , and compassion it was comforting to the patients. Truly a life changing experience!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my second year participating in the Sights on Health, Inc. surgical mission to Riobamba, Ecuador. It is my absolute pleasure to be a part of such an amazing and skilled team that worked 12-13 hours a day, tirelessly and with smiles on their faces to help people in need. It was a great effort by Dr. Messina to coordinate everything and make this mission possible. I don’t have sufficient words to explain the priceless feelings of contentment in my heart. What I can say is that I will try my best to continue to help this wonderful non-profit organization as long as I can!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” - Melody Beattie

To me, Sights on Health, Inc. perfectly embodies the message of this quote. I am thankful to this non-profit organization for providing me with opportunities to be a member of team that partners with in-country staff and works as one cohesive unit with our heads, hearts, and hands in harmony. As a medical student, I have aimed to seek out positive experiences with mentors who demonstrate humility, respect for diversity, and cultural competency while providing patient-centered care. I have found an abundance of such mentors through my most recent cataract surgical mission in 2019 with this non-profit organization to Riobamba, Ecuador, as well as my experiences in Sacred Valley, Perú in 2017 when I co-led the medical and surgical mission. The important work being done by Sights on Health, Inc., including community empowerment through increasing healthcare access and performing sight-restoring surgeries, has been instrumental to my evolution into a physician. I look forward to the great work that will continue in the coming future and hope to contribute as I advance in my training. Thank you!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This was my second mission trip to Ecuador with Sights on Health. They are a tremendous organization. We operated on 96 patients with cataracts and glaucoma with excellent results. The patients were all extremely grateful to get their vision back. The days were long but extremely rewarding. I highly recommend this great organization and was proud to be affiliated with them! Dave K

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The 2019 mission in Ecuador was the first mission where I have participated. The team of physicians, nurses, technicians and volunteers were excellent. To be able to be a part of a team to serve those in need of medical care was a powerful experience; one that I will never forget.

I would like to thank Dr. Messina and her team for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful mission. I made some wonderful friends and felt like I was part of the team that contributed to helping improve the lives of many Ecuadorian people.

The patients in Ecuador were so appreciative of the medical care. Each day you could see the appreciation in their eyes and hear their gratuitous, heart felt words. The experience gave me a tremendous sense of appreciation as well as pride knowing that our team did so much good for so many people.

If you have ever considered volunteering your time, I strongly recommend you serve. It will change you for the better and help make the world a better place.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to join Sights on Health as an RN on the team. The experience is immeasurable to any other. Dr. Messina is an incredible woman with unbelievable leadership skills. She organized an extremely successful trip and I was glad to be a part of it. Giving the gift of sight to the beautiful Andean people from mountain regions, refugees, and citizens of Riobamba was very gratifying. The kindness, happiness and sincerity of these patients as well as my team made the difficult work, achieved with limited resources, both possible and enjoyable.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I participated in this year surgical mission to Riobamba and as always it was life changing. Sighs on health has done an amazing job coordinating this trip. Dr Messina and her amazing team performed an outstanding job, hope to continue to be part of this amazing group and helping to continue to improve the quality of life of the most disadvantaged groups.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure to go to ecuador with this amazing non profit organization. It was a pleasure to be part of such a great team in which we help a lot of people in need. I will love to go back soon.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I recently attended a mission inEcuador with this non profit, Sights on Health. I am so impressed with how much they do with such exacting use of their small but tightly managed budget. Very impressive! The very high level of care from the physicians to the support staff exceeds what I have experienced elsewhere. I would definitely volunteer with Sights on Health again.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is so responsible with the money people donate, it has an all volunteer board of dedicated people that care so much about the poorest of the poor! I have volunteered time and money to them for years now. It’s top notch!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I participated in a cataract surgical mission with sights on health in Ecuador recently. The amount of voluntary effort and coordination with local providers was astounding, and truly all of the resources invested went directly to patient care that impacted the lives and well being of patients who otherwise would not have had access to care.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An amazing experience.... a roller coaster of feelings: happiness to know you are helping, sadness or frustration when you sometimes can’t, smiles and coloring books moments, round faced babies with toothless smiles that fill your heart, possibility of diagnose a condition or give a word of hope to parents looking for Answers
A lifetime of experiences in only 5 days!!!
A great team and superb organization. A chance to do some medical education and meet the most wonderful people on earth.
This is my second year going to Sacred Valley and it is worth even my vacation days!!!!
Thanks Sights on Health to make this experience one that you want to keep on happening.


Una experiencia increíble... una montaña rusa de emociones: alegria de poder ayudar, tristeza y frustración cuando a veces no se puede, risas y libros para colorear, bebés adorables de caritas redondas y risas sin dientes, diagnósticos claros que dan esperanza o por lo menos disipan dudas y resquemores. Toda una vida vivida a través de los pacientes en solo 5 días.
Un gran equipo... una gran NGO!
Gracias Sights on Health por hacerme parte de esta experiencia....

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a pediatrician. Since I was in med school and pediatrics was not even in the horizon I always wanted to participate in a medical mission. But life is life and things happen here and there and then I was never able to fulfill that item in my bucket list.
It was an early morning staff meeting and Dr Coritsidis appeared and in 15 min turned my world upside down. I was inspired, challenged and I was finally facing the chance of a lifetime: participate in a medical mission, in my beloved South America (I am form Argentina) and helping this wonderful NGO who was desperately looking for a pediatrician to participate. The need was there, the opportunity also. I went home asked my husband (who is a real hero as he stayed w/ my 2 kids for a week- so you can do this even if you have small kids-.) and off I went. The experience was what I expected and so much more.... the group, the organization, the excitement of the unknown but at the same time feeling so safe and sure I could do this.
All was so smooth that at one point I felt I was on vacation.!!!. But then we started the real work, with the people... so many needs. A lot of patients came just to see the "gringo" doctor but others just needed reassurance about something so just with a word that was suddenly magical I could give to a parent the knowledge that their kid didnt have something serious or was just growing fine. On the other hand I also faced sad moments were I had to put a name to a long-suspected condition. But at least those parents left my "tent/office" with knowledge the comfort that might bring.
The team of students was amazing. Working by our side at all times,helping with everything and using all opportunities to learn (so i also fulfilled one of my other passions which is teaching).
I dont have enough words to explain the experience, the feelings, the bombarding of all my senses every time I headed to a work day. I will do my best and more to go next year and keep moving forward the work I started as a pediatrician with A promise to Peru.

PS: and by the way I got to visit Machu Picchu!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was my first time volunteering with Sights on Health/A Promise to Peru to help provide eye care to the beautiful people of the Sacred Valley region in July 2019. It was a wonderful experience working with fellow humanitarians, all who dedicated themselves to months of preparation, organization and fundraising to make this mission such a success. The patients were so incredibly gracious and gentle and the country of Peru hosted us with incredible hospitality. This is a phenomenal team of people who truly care about improving the quality of life for fellow human beings.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

’ve been on five mission trips with Sights on Health/A Promise to Peru. All of them life changing both for the patients and for myself. But I was not ready for what I witnessed in the city of Maras. The need and the ocular issues we saw were unlike any other.

A lot of preventable blindness, some neglect, a lot of trauma. And a lot of patience in the part of the people.

The health post in Maras has pharmacy and the only eye drops they have are prednisolone acetate!

We set up our traveling eye clinic in the health post and the people came.

This elderly lady presented with mild cataracts that have started impacting her vision. She was having a hard time seeing which of her family members was walking down the road. Luckily we had glasses in her Rx and got her down to 20/25. And we also had reading glasses for her in her Rx. She was thrilled. We provided her with detailed information, in her language, on where to seek additional help as her vision changes. And she was educated on the importance of annual eye exams and wearing sunglasses with UV-protection when working out in the fields .

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Very well organized clinics in various towns of scared valley. Patients were very appreciative of the care which included medications as well point of care lab tests (blood glucose, Hemoglobin A1C, Urine tests) and ultra sound examination.

Volunteers (Medical, Nursing and College students, physicians, pharmacists)were also well taken care of at very comfortable accommodation in city of Urubamba.

Will be happy to be part of this wonderful nonprofit organization and participate in their other sites where cataract surgeries are also performed.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our journey was amazing. Travel was affordable well planned, orderly, comfortable & safe. We worked hard and helped many people. I hope to continue to serve with this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was my first experience volunteering medically outside of the U.S. I have to be honest and say that I was definitely a little nervous about what I was getting myself into but Promise to Peru did a great job in making me feel comfortable once we were there. I think that this organization does a great job in helping the people of Peru and working with the Peruvian municipalities in order to organize follow up care after we saw the patients. I would highly recommend A Promise to Peru to anyone considering doing a medical mission.

Volunteer

Rating: 5


I just completed my first trip with A Promise to Peru and could not be more then mystified as to the commitment a group of doctors, nurses and techs can have. The professionalism and teamwork this group gave to every patient they saw whether they had cataracts, trauma, needed readers or just preventive sunglasses , whether the patient was 3 or 103 was beyond any I have witnessed. This team of 16 traveled from New York to Riobamba, Ecuador for one week with supplies in tow and saw over 500 patients in the clinic and in outreach to rural farm communities. Not only was the medical care suburb but the devotion to assuring every patient left with a smile was evident. Tears were brought to my eyes as every patient couldn't thank the team enough with hugs, hand shakes and the biggest smiles. Volunteers, each and everyone of them, left their families, jobs, and patients at home to assure the world can be a better place by spreading a little help, hope and lot of love. This community of patients are all in a much better place than before A Promise of Peru touched their lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This past summer was my 5th time joining A Promise to Peru. Each experience has reinforced how much preparation and thought goes into the execution of each trip to make sure that the necessary materials (medications, supplies, etc) are brought down, and that public advertisement of the team's arrival is made to maximize the amount of patients that are seen. Every volunteer, both professionals and students, makes it clear through their tireless work each day that they have joined the mission because of their genuine desire to use their skills to help those who need them. Most importantly, all of the work that Promise to Peru does, whether it be via their cataract or medical mission, is geared towards the unique medical needs of the region that is being served. The cataract mission offers a safe, permanent cure to a life-altering disability with the appropriate post-operative follow up and the medical mission is able to distribute medications such as antibiotics and antihypertensive medications that can be costly and hard to come by in the local market. I have been lucky to volunteer so often with an organization that is so committed to delivering medical aid in a sustainable and thought-out way.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've worked with A Promise to Peru as a physician for a couple of years and each experience has been amazing. We have served hundreds of people in rural parts of Peru in both medical and surgical missions, providing basic medical care and education, as well as removing cataracts and providing glasses to restore the vision of many. I've been inspired by the medical students and other staff that come along each year, with their energy and commitment to helping others. The directors and leadership are wonderful human beings that pour their hearts into all that they do, which makes it easy to keep coming back to help!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A Promise to Peru by far exceeded my expectations, I am beyond grateful to have been able to take part as a medical student. A mission that works hard to respect the people, and culture of a country is one that should be highlighted. I hope one day to return to Peru with this organization and continue to make a positive impact. I highly recommend it to others.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I participated in a medical mission trip to Peru with this organization. It was incredibly well run and organized. It was an invaluable experience for me as a medical student. I hope to participate again in the future and would recommend the experience to anyone interested in an international medical trip.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with this nonprofit for the first time in June 2017 and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my medical school training. I am graduating in May 2018 and this trip fortified my interest in international medicine; it provided the perfect exposure to establishing a sustainable and impactful relationship with underprivileged patient populations and their local medical providers. I am forever grateful to the leaders and organizers for granting me the opportunity to participate.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have participated in two trips with A Promise to Peru, once as an undergraduate and once as a medical student, and both trips were some of the most memorable and fulfilling moments of my life so far. Under the guidance of Dr. Messina and the multitude of team members the trips are well organized (from travel to packing everything necessary for a functioning OR) and make it possible to make major impacts on the lives of the people we are fortunate to work with in Peru. I was able to assist with translating, taking medical histories, performing eye exams and visual acuities, and was also able to work closely with the physicians and surgeons on the mission during patient encounters and surgeries. Being able to work with a patient through all of the steps: from initial eye exams to post-op instructions, and being on the receiving end of their thankful hugs and smiles following the procedure is truly a life changing experience and definitely puts all of the hard work/education into perspective.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This group does amazing work- literally restoring sight to the blind through free cataract surgery and eye glasses. They also instill their sense of professionalism and service in others by including medical and optometry students in their efforts. An outstanding organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every time I accompany this medical mission I find myself growing as a person and with the individuals involved. This is a great organization that does very meaningful work! I volunteer to help others and myself.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I stumbled upon this organization several years ago when I attended a fund raising dinner on a Thursday evening when my wife was working. I thought they’d have a dozen people show up, so I went in support of a friend who told me he was going on this medical mission. I was quite surprised to see over a hundred people turn up for this event. I was so intrigued by the concept of the mission and the zeal of the leadership that I signed my wife and myself up to join the mission on that year’s trip to Peru. We have both become quite involved in helping the organization, volunteering on multiple missions, helping organize fundraising activities, packing and unpacking supplies and equipment, and participating in planning and Board of Directors meetings. The mission work involves taking time off as vacation from our jobs, paying our own way to travel to South America, and volunteering long hours each day during the mission week. The people that we examine, treat and operate on are truly thankful, as am I from the satisfaction I receive from being able to help these individuals who would otherwise not have their sight. Promise to Peru is a not-for-profit organization that raises funds and organizes individuals to volunteer to improve vision and restore sight to poor and impoverished people, a truly wonderful mission.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am very grateful to have been able to participate on a trip to Peru with this organization. As a medical student, I was able to participate as a Spanish translator, take medical history, perform eye and physical exams on patients, observe cataract surgeries, and work with a group of amazing volunteers who appreciated each other and enjoyed working and learning from each other and from the patients.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My participation in Promise to Peru solidified my desire to become a physician. I truly enjoyed helping enact a meaningful and visible change in these patients’ lives. The team of volunteers who came to Peru were an excited and inspiring group of individuals that made this experience even more special.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This non-profit is an amazing organization that provides health care to the rural populations of Peru. As an ophthalmologist I had the opportunity to see many diseases that I have only read about and deliver care to people who desperately need health care. The mission provides general health care as well as ophthalmic care. I highly recommend this nonprofit.

bepstein

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been fortunate to work with A Promise to Peru as a volunteer ophthalmologist on three occasions. These trips have been very rewarding both personally and professionally. The physicians who comprise our team are excellent. The academic affiliation with SUNY Stonybrook allows medical students to join in this experience and provides a "one on one" teaching opportunity.

Our patient population is largely rural and indigenous with few local options for eye care. Many of these patients have severe vision loss due to cataract, which we are able to treat with a short surgical procedure. The local physicians are very supportive of our mission to serve these patients and our interactions with them are very positive.

On a personal note my family members and I found the group dynamic very unique. The dedication by all members of the team made these trips enjoyable--both during our workday and during our free time. I plan on returning again this year!

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a veteran of previous medical trips in developing nations I was particularly impressed by this experience. This is wonderful group of dedicated volunteers who planned and executed a very successful mission. I plan to return for a third trip!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

“Promise to Peru” es una organización sin fines de lucro, que hace un trabajo arduo y una labor loable
con la gente mas desvalida y olvidada de Perú dándoles esperanza y regresándolos a la vida con una cirugía de cataratas o con un par de lentes de medida que transforma su vida.
Los organizadores preparan todo minuciosamente logrando un éxito total, a pesar de contar con un presupuesto reducido y un centro medico con muchas limitaciones.

Mi experiencia como interprete ha sido fascinante e incredible y siendo Peruana, he tenido la oportunidad de ver a mi gente de comunidades lejanas que vienen a ver a todos los doctors y sentir una satisfación indiscreptible cuando veía esas caritas felices, si saber como agradecer o haciéndolo a su manera de que pueden ver y regresar a sus actividedes diarias.

Felicito a todos los voluntarios por realizar una labor incredible, trabajan desde el amanacer hasta el atardecer para tratar de atender a todos los pacientes que vienen buscando esperanza y solución a sus problemas de salud; sin una queja, al contrario todos ayudando de la mejor manera.

Me siento orgullosa de poder ser parte de esta misión y contribuir con su digna causa y lo repetiré las veces que sea necesario.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

What a well run organization! Every detail is attended to with grace and professionalism. I've been on several missions with A Promise to Peru and plan to continue. We have made a measurable and lasting difference in the lives of so many of our neighbors to the south.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the incredible experience of participating as an ophthalmologist/surgeon on the June 2017 mission to Calca, Peru. It was a life changing experience and one I will never forget. The ability to care for those who truly need our help without the hindrance of computerized medical records, needless bureaucracy and governmental interference was wonderful. The gratitude of the many patients, the team work of the excellent volunteer health care workers, physicians, surgeons and local staff was a true pleasure. Dr. Messina's and the board's efforts in organizing the mission were worthy of the highest praise. The organization is well named. It keeps its promises!
Arnold Prywes, MD

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Luigi Canepa and I volunteered as an interpreter in 2016 Peru and 2015 Ecuador missions. The experience with Promise to Peru has been incredible, mesmerizing and unimaginable. Incredible in that the amount of coordination, planning and labor that go in to the missions with a successful outcome; both missions were completed with the intention and with excellence. The mesmerizing areas that we attend not only allowed me to experience the people but the environment and the country itself; every mission has been an adventure. The unimaginable is found in the impact that we are making on the communities and the difference in the quality of life, happiness and health we bring to the people. It has been a true joy and educational experience to participate with Promise to Peru and I look forward to continuing with my participation.