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Improving vision one child at a time in Honduras

Patti Wagner, 57, of Farmville, is in Honduras for what is approximately her 30th trip to, what she terms, the second-poorest country in the western hemisphere to provide high tech vision screening to children in the remote mountain communities of the country.

The trip is part of a partnership between Conexus and Friends of Barnabas.

Conexus is an organization that works to eliminate undetected and untreated vision problems as barriers to success.

Friends of Barnabas, of which Wagner is a staff member, is a foundation that works to improve the lives of impoverished children in Honduras by providing high quality sustainable medical care and enabling communities to become self-sufficient through community health training and education.

Wagner said that until about three years ago when she became a staff member, she had been volunteering for Friends of Barnabas since 2001, co-leading the mountain medical team that was based out of Farmville United Methodist Church.

“When the foundation started, the main focus was providing basic primary medical care to remote communities up in the mountains and… the foundation has grown to a point where we have four different programs,” Wagner said.

She said right now the foundation has a caseload of about 300 patients that it cares for on a monthly basis.

Wagner said even with as much as she’s been to Honduras, the trips still don’t get old.

“I’m a registered nurse, and for me, it’s everything I’ve ever done as a nurse all rolled into one,” Wagner said. “It allows me to use my skills and my education along with my passion for helping others.”

She said she’s been a nurse for 37 years, noting she has worked at various places throughout the Farmville area.

Giving insight into the purpose of Conexus, Tim Gresham, its president and CEO, said its mission “is to eliminate poor vision as a barrier to children’s success in school and in life. Whether a child is in the city of Richmond or a rural community in Honduras, we want to be sure that child has the opportunity to succeed. The opportunity to collaborate with Friends of Barnabas is a great example of how two organizations can come together, bringing the best of what each organization can offer, resulting in tremendous impact.”