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Part 4: Miracles Under the Mango Tree

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HAITI—A teacher, a mayor and a student at NDSU were just a few of the 25 volunteers who recently returned from an incredible Eye Surgery Mission to Haiti.

The Fargo-Moorhead team would see 1,200 people during the seven days of work.

There are moments in Haiti, when time stands still.

Farmers in the countryside are harvesting sugar cane juice for rum, using centuries old methods.

Near the village of Pignon, 2-year old Darlene is eating her beans and rice with her family at their hut.

The toddler suffered a "fork to eye injury" and cannot see, but help is on the way.

25 Fargo-Moorhead volunteers, including surgeons, optometrists and assistants, begin the week.

Hundreds of glasses will be sorted and donated to those with poor vision.

Kristen Follman is usually busy, working at Osgood Elementary in Fargo, but on this day she and Nicole Weisz, a youth leader at Hope Lutheran are testing vision for the 300 lined up outside.

"They have been waiting a long time for us to come, a year and they panic because they know we won't be back for another year," said Weisz.

"We know they just want to be seen, and helped, there is no malice, they want to be seen and we hope to help them," said Kristen Follman, Team Member.

Fargo optometrist Dr. Eric Ross is on his feet for hours, using instruments that will help him decide if someone needs surgery or other kinds of treatment; greatest satisfaction comes, when helping the young see.

"I recognize him, I remember treating him last year and the year before," said Dr. Ross, "the main reason to come here is preventable blindness, there are people in this world and country like Haiti, there are people who are blind who do not need to be blind."

"Apprehensions about being in a third world country, not knowing what to expect, I thought I would go once and never again, but I am hooked and I could not imagine not going," said Follman.

They witness poverty and a survival skill that leaves such an impression.

"They want to be in a better place, they want to see so they can work and do things, so I get a lot out of it, I am blessed to be here and help them. So you do see it differently," said Weisz.

In Haiti's countryside, kids being kids, with an incredible view from a crude but much-loved soccer field.

A nation and a village grateful for one group's willingness to serve and help so many see again


Make sure to watch or record our special documentary: "Miracles Under the Mango Tree", Thursday night, May 24th at 6:30 pm on WDAY for new stories and an in-depth look at life on the impoverished island.

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