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Part 2: Miracles Under the Mango Tree

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HAITI—Volunteers with a 25 member "Eye Surgery Team" from Fargo-Moorhead, certainly had their work cut out for them, when traveling to the impoverished island of Haiti.

1,200 people lined up during an incredible week of surgery and screening tests, that helped the blind see.

Music and city noise after months of planning and plotting,

Lori Risbrudt of Ashby has left the west central Minnesota town for one of the poorest spots in the world, helping a 25 member eye team from Fargo-Moorhead prepare for an intense week of mobile surgery and eye care, in Haiti.

"It is so raw, you are here in the arena, no organization standing above you, you are just navigating, coordinating and trying to make things go smoothly," said Risbrudt.

Some of that navigating means crowd control.

Hundreds show up every morning at dawn, walking hours to get cataracts removed or sight restored; at times tensions are high.

"We had no system, we opened the doors and they just came in and it was overwhelming and how desperate they are, they need you because there is no eye care here," said Risbrudt.

Access to health care is such an issue for Haitians, they often live miles from any hospital, so when they hear a team from Fargo-Moorhead is here, they will walk or ride in the back of a truck for miles, all day long.

Risbrudt was able to get outside the hospital compound, to see a very common Haitian home; a single mom, living in a leaky mud and stick home.

When it rains all the water comes inside the home.

"I get emotional because I think we have enough wealth and resources in this country and world where we can help," said Risbrudt, "We can make everyone's life where they have shelter and food and water, you cannot thrive unless you have the basics."

They had a pot of water and beans cooking, which was likely the only meal of the day.

"You see these four kids and the opportunities they don't even know exist when there are limited opportunities when you have to walk 25 minutes for water each way each day and water is not even healthy water," said Risbrudt.

When it comes to health care, the lack of it can dramatically change lives.

14-year old Paylin has come to see the Fargo Eye Surgery team, she has been blind since the age of 6 from a high fever.

Paylin's story is a reminder of what reality is in Haiti, when it comes to health care, some of the people gathered here hoping for the gift of sight, will go home without it.

"I don't know if I take it for granted, because I am highly aware of the quality of life I have, but you see it here and you are grateful for the care we have," Risbrudt.

Part 3: Miracles Under the Mango Tree

How to Help: 

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

(701) 241-5317