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AgriNews/Rochester, Minnesota/October 28, 2010

By Carol Stender

Orville and Elvera Trettin of Stewart, Lloyd and Karen Olson of Hutchinson, and Bob Wacker of New Germany serve and deliver food, hand out clothing, bring needed walkers, canes and wheelchairs and check vision and fit the poor with glasses.

“Why we wear so many hats, our necks hurt,” laughs Elvera.

The five farmers have a love for helping others. They all help the organization “Feed the Kidz,” which prompted them to start their own effort they call Vision Honduras. The organization started eight years ago when Bob and Orville traveled to the country.

“We went there to check on a load of food we had sent through the organization called “Kids Against Hunger,” which is now called Food for Kidz,” Bob said. “And we saw the poverty and all the needs. That was in July and the following February, I said I was going down to see if we could do something for the people.”

Bob spent a month in Honduras during that trip and Orville came a week or two later. They assessed the needs and, with others, built areas to feed the poor.

Orville, a Lions Club member, saw an opportunity for the organization’s efforts to collect used eyeglasses to benefit the Hondurans. The eyeglasses, collected by Lions Clubs from throughout the country, are sent to a Wisconsin prison where inmates check the lens prescription using lensometers. The glasses are put in bags with the prescription information and sent throughout the world.

They travel from village to village, checking vision using auto eye refractors. The measurements they take are matched with the eyeglasses and given to the Hondurans.

Elvera remembers one 92-year-old woman during their first trip who arrived in a wheelchair. She said they couldn’t do anything for her because she was old.

But the group tested her vision and gave her a pair of glasses. She was then able to read her Bible, Elvera said.

One man, wearing the eyeglasses given to him by the team, stood looking out at the mountains, Lloyd said.

“He just cried,” he said. “He was able to see his mountains, which he hadn’t seen in years.”

Karen laughs remembering one man who was given a pair of transition glasses that darkened in the sun but return to a clear lens indoors. He kept moving in and out of a building saying he thought it was a miracle, she said.

“They all have this same look when they are able to see,” he said. “They get this huge smile.”

The group works with Luis Vargas for their mission efforts. Luis came to the United States for college and returned to Honduras to help his people, Bob said. He covers a 300 to 400 mile area working with groups to deliver food, clothing and more to the poor. He doesn’t want any of the food and items to be tied up religiously or politically, Bob said.

Luis arranges almost everything for the group, including where they’ll travel and where they’ll stay whether in a hotel or in private homes.

Vision Honduras has touched many lives in the last eight years, but their efforts haven’t affected just the people they come to serve. Each member of the group has been blessed by the experience.

For Orville and Elvera, it is like a dream come true. The two felt called to missions as a young couple, but put their plans on hold when some weren’t supportive.

“We turned to farming,” said Elvera.

They operated a dairy, hog and crop farm by Stewart and retired 10 years ago.

“We truly enjoyed farming,” she said of the operation now run by one of their children. “But now we can turn to our love of missions.”

Lloyd and Karen retired from their hog and crop operation eight years ago. They rent out the cropland.

Their farm background has come in handy on their trips, they said. They’ve been able to improvise with tools when a fix-up is needed. They laugh when describing the tool they were given when they needed a pencil sharpened. They were given a machete. It must be the local answer to a Swiss army knife.

Bob worked in the poultry industry and now sells equipment to poultry farms.

Vision Honduras is a locally-based mission. Wherever the group is, that’s where the corporate office is, Elvera said. Donated items are stored at the Stewart school and shipped via containers to Honduras.

In 2009, through their efforts, more than 1,000 Hondurans in eight villages received better vision through the eyeglasses.

They invite others to join their efforts but realize not everyone is able to make the roughly three-week trip. One group in Worthington makes diapers from T-shirts. Another uses drapery fabric to make the eyeglass holders each Honduran receives. The Hondurans receiving eyeglasses are also given a New Testament Bible.

Anyone interested in learning more about the group and its 2011 February trip, can contact the Trettins at (320) [].


With appreciation to AgriNews/Rochester, Minnesota

Bringing better vision to Honduras
Sr. Perspective Newspaper/Glenwood, Minnesota/May, 2009

Written by Sandy Grussing

With a population of just over 7.5 million, Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America and has an extraordinarily unequal distribution of income and high unemployment. The economy relies heavily on a narrow range of exports, notably bananas and coffee, making it vulnerable to natural disasters and shifts in commodity prices.

Orville Trettin of Stewart, an active participant in Kids Against Hunger, shared he was at a prayer meeting last year in a remote Honduran village visiting a Feeding Children International feeding site, when a young woman asked if she could borrow my glasses to look at her bible. When I looked around, I realized the only people, young or old, who had glasses, were those who were visiting from America. Trettin was on his fourth trip to Honduras at the time but had never noticed the lack of eye glasses before.

Robert Wacker from New Germany and Orville decided there had to be something we could do to help change that, Trettin said. Vision Honduras, a non-profit organization to fit and distribute eye glasses was born, the result of a simple request to borrow a pair of reading glasses.

Upon his return to the United States, Trettin began making inquiries. He and Elvera Trettin are members of the Stewart Lions Club and began their search knowing that Lions Clubs International collects used glasses for redistribution.

The eyeglasses, some new and some recycled, were obtained through the Lions Eyeglasses Recycling Program. The Wisconsin Lions Eye Glass Recycling Center program, utilizes a local correctional system as a source for processing collected eye glasses. Inmates are trained to sort eye glasses and label them with the proper prescription information.

Trettin and Wacker worked for a year to organize Vision Honduras and make arrangements to travel there with gifts of vision for the people and in March, 2009. Orville took his wife Elvera and their friends Butch and Karen Olson of Hutchinson and Carrie Frank of Rochester with him to distribute free glasses in the mountain villages of Honduras. This was the first visit to Honduras for Elvera, the Olson, and Frank..

Once in Honduras, a Texas couple Jan and Charlie Brown from International Health Services provided training on how to fit and distribute the eye glasses. The Minnesota volunteers were taught to use auto refractors, administer vision tests and match prescriptions to available eye glasses as closely as possible.

Weeks prior to their arrival, those wanting glasses had to sign up and receive a ticket. They arrived on the designated day with their tickets in hand, most of them having traveled long distances by foot. One elderly lady walked seven hours to the distribution site. The trip was well worth it because on her long walk home, she could actually see the scenery clearly for the first time in decades.

The volunteers said they were impressed with the patience of the people who waited in long lines without complaint for their turn to have their eyes examined and receive a pair of glasses. There was no confusion and an amazing lack of noise as the grateful Hondurans waited to be seen.

When his or her turn came, the recipient’s vision was tested using a wall eye chart. Then the eyes were tested using an auto refractor. Once the prescription was determined the search for the prescription eye glasses began. The glasses available probably would not exactly match the prescription needed but the volunteers search diligently for something as close as possible. The recipient was then fitted with recycled or donated eye glasses and retested with the prescription or reading glasses using a held eye chart. After a few adjustments, they were able to read the Spanish language New Testaments (also distributed by the Vision Honduras volunteers) clearly or thread a needle to sew for their family some for the first time in years.

The oldest person to receive glasses was 91 years old and the youngest was only 2-1/2. One woman grinned from ear to ear and said, I have not been able to read in 40 years. In all, more than 1,000 people received the gift of clear vision. The team was able to help between 90 and 95 percent of the people they saw. Those they could not help were referred to clinics in the nearest city.

Thanks to Karen Olson, an avid seamstress, the Hondurans received another gift. One of Olson’s relatives, employed by a futon manufacturer, provided fabric samples cut to 8 x 14 inches for Olson to make eye glass cases from. The cases, both beautiful and functional, provided recipients a way to keep their new glasses clean and unscratched. Olson would welcome more fabric to prepare cases for the next trip.

Additional volunteers are always being sought. Local interpreters are provided so you do not need to speak Spanish, but there are a few things potential workers will want to know about travel to Central America. The Minnesota couples paid their own air travel expenses plus $650 per person. Hotels for a Third World Country were great, they said. Water for the shower (if the room had one) was heated above the shower in a device Orville called the “widow maker”. Exposed wiring made showering an adventure to say the least.

A passport and series of shots are required. You can arrange for them through your local travel clinic. Clothing for a wide range of temperatures should be packed. In the morning you will need a sweatshirt, but by afternoon the temperature and humidity will both likely be 95. You will be eating the local diet, so you had better like rice and beans and if you want to order coffee without sugar, be prepared for a 45-minute wait.

Except for the shower, all the volunteers said they felt perfectly safe on their trip.

We never felt threatened. Everyone was just so grateful we had come, Olson said. The children were especially glad to see them. They loved the candy and gum they were given. I would give a child a piece of bubble gum (a great favorite) and he would generously share it with the children next to him, said Karen. Her impression of all those she met was that the Hondurans are a kind, contented and happy people.

In addition to volunteers, the program has need of some special donated items. They are looking for donations of butcher shop equipment, a zigzag sewing machine, buttons and zippers. Anyone interested in more information about volunteering or making donations to help Vision Honduras is invited to contact Orville Trettin at (320) [].


With appreciation to the Sr. Perspective Newspaper/Glenwood, Minnesota

McLeod residents give Hondurans the gift of sight
The Hutchinson Leader/Hutchinson, Minnesota/August 7, 2009

Thanks to a growing team of people in the McLeod County area working with Lions Clubs International, more and more Hondurans are receiving the gift of sight.

Stewart resident Orville Trettin has made many humanitarian mission trips to Honduras over the years. During one trip, a young woman at a praise service asked to borrow his glasses so she could read her Bible. It was the first time in a long time the woman was able to do that. Trettin and others noticed that not many Hondurans wore glasses.

Trettin, a Lion, knew eye care is a core mission of the organization. Once back home, he brought together some friends to form Vision Honduras to take eyeglasses to Honduran mountain residents.

Earlier this year, a team of Vision Honduras volunteers traveled to the Central American country and provided 1,000 residents of eight villages the gift of better vision. The group has a goal of taking 10,000 pair of prescription eyeglasses and 2,000 pair of reading glasses during a mission trip next March.

For more about Vision Honduras, call: Orville and Elvera Trettin at (320) [], or Karen or Lloyd Olson at (320) [].


With appreciation to the Hutchinson Leader, Hutchinson, Minnesota

Lions to present Vision Honduras
Lakefield Standard/Lakefield, Minnesota/
October 1, 2009

By Mike Jordan

As a service organization, the Lakefield Lions Club has served the community and the surrounding area for many years. Last year, the Lakefield Lions Club donated to Vision Honduras for the first time and the group will be donating again this year as well.

A primary part of the Lions Club’s purpose is to collect used eyeglasses to provide sight to those who could not see without them and that is what Vision Honduras is about.

Carol Wilson, president of the Lakefield Lions Club and the sister of the founder of Vision Honduras, Orville Trettin, said the need for eyeglasses by the people of Honduras is great and the donation the local Lions Club made last year has already helped make a difference in the lives of the people of Honduras.

“Orville was at a prayer meeting in Honduras last year where he was visiting a Kids Against Hunger feeding site,” Wilson said. “A woman came up to him and asked to use his glasses so she could read her Bible. Orville looked around and realized that the only people wearing glasses were with his group. So he decided to help the people of that part of Honduras regain their sight.”

Trettin returned to the United States and, along with his wife, Elvera, started Vision Honduras with the mission of providing needed eyeglasses to the people of that Central American country.

“Most of the glasses donated to Vision Honduras come from the Lions Foundation of Wisconsin eyeglass recycling center, who receive eyeglasses collected by Lions clubs from many areas,” Trettin said. “They provide a prescription for each lens and put it right on the glasses. The processing work of preparing those lenses and the glasses is done by those that are incarcerated. When we go to Honduras with the eyeglasses, we try to match up as close as we can the vision needs of the people there to their prescription with the glasses we have.”

The Trettins met up with another couple from the International Health Services organization who had gone to Honduras last year and they trained them in just how to fit and disperse the glasses.

“We learned how to use an auto refractor, give vision tests using an eye chart and match prescriptions for the people to the eyeglasses we had as close as we could,” he said. “We were able to help over 1,000 people regain their sight on our first trip there in March of this year, but those we couldn’t help we referred to a eye clinic in a nearby city.”

On their first visit to Honduras this year, the Trettins were joined by a couple from Hutchinson. The Trettins plan to return to Honduras with even more eyeglasses on March 4, 2010, and more help.

“We will be taking 16 people with us this time so far,” Trettin said. “We plan to be there for 19 days and are leaving mid-week because the cost of airfare is less traveling at that time of the week.”

The Trettins have a goal of taking and dispersing 10,000 pairs of prescription eyeglasses and another 2,000 pairs of reading glasses between March 4 and March 22.

“Those 1,000 or more people we were able to help receive better vision came from eight villages in the mountainous region of Honduras,” he said. “Some of them traveled many miles to get to our dispersing site. Once there, they patiently and quietly stood in line waiting for their turn to have a chance to improve their vision.”

Last year, the Lakefield Lions Club collected eyeglasses specifically for the Vision Honduras project, Wilson said.

“We also donated $500 to Vision Honduras,” she added.

“In the mountain region of Honduras, unemployment runs between 30 and 40 percent,” Trettin said. “The country exports the bananas and coffee they raise, but both those commodities are dependent on the markets for those products and the weather.”

Those wishing to travel to Honduras to help with the distribution work do so at their own expense, which runs about $1,300 per person, but includes round-trip airfare, in-country transportation, the translators and Honduran coordinator, food and lodging.

“We do this out of our love of people,” Trettin said. “We have, over the years, hosted over 100 international youth in our home in Stewart. When we see a need, we like to do things that help.”

“This is Orville’s dream,” Wilson said. “To help people in need. He does it through his involvement in Kids Against Hunger and now with Vision Honduras too. I want to invite anybody that is interested in learning more about this project to come to the Lakefield Lions’ Monday, Oct. 12, meeting at 6 p.m. at Bowler’s Inn. If they have questions and want answers or want to volunteer or even go on the trip, please come to our meeting. Donations of eyeglasses are always welcomed, as are cash donations to help with costs.”


With appreciation to the Lakefield Standard/Lakefield, Minnesota