Vision For the Poor

From Temporary Missions to Permanent Local Eye Care

We started our work 25 years ago conducting eye care missions in Guatemala’s remote Peten Rainforest.

We quickly learned that well-intentioned efforts of volunteer mission teams can create a culture of dependence and undermine the prospect of permanent, sustainable, high-quality local eye care.

Glasses break; recycled eyeglasses don’t work most of the time; medications need to be refilled; and eye trauma happens 52 weeks a year – not just when a mission team gets there.

So three young Guatemalan doctors who served those early missions showed the courage to take a “road less traveled”. With help from Southern India’s Aravind Eye Hospital, they turned their practice into a social service enterprise.

Reinvesting almost all of their early profits was a huge personal sacrifice and financial risk. Only 20 percent of all Guatemalan patients can pay for eye care; 70 percent can only pay for some; and 10 percent can’t pay at all.

To give every patient the highest quality of care regardless of their ability to pay, you have to figure out exactly what volume of care is needed to be self-sufficient.

Twenty four years later, we can tell you that exactly:

  • 13,000 patients, 660 surgeries, 3,996 prescription sales, and 996 more medical procedures every year make Visualiza Eye Care Hospitals self-supporting.
  • 5,280 patients, 240 surgery referrals, and 3,000 prescription sales every year make each Vision Center supporting those Eye Care Hospitals sustainable.

We know this from lessons learned as we turned an early rainforest Clinic with occasional mobile support into two self-sustaining centralized Eye Care Hospitals with four supporting Vision Centers.

Visualiza recruited, trained, and employed 120 local medical and administrative staff who now serve over 150,000 patients and provide more than 12,000 sight-saving surgeries every year.

Visualiza is even enduring the COVID-19 pandemic by creating supplemental income streams like home pharmacy delivery and no-contact eyeglasses repair.

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Expanding the Visualiza Network

Now working with more than a dozen internationally recognized non-governmental partners, Visualiza developed a National Plan to build six more Eye Hospitals and 30 supporting Vision Centers.

Every man, woman, and child in Guatemala will have access to high-quality, comprehensive, and affordable eye care by 2032.

Visualiza will end treatable blindness among 18 million of the world’s poorest people.

Vision for the Poor is dedicated to helping fund the Visualiza National Rollout.

This 10-year, $54 million social service enterprise eye care network spanning an entire developing country will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world!

Every new Eye Hospital and Vision Center will be self-sustaining one year after opening.

You Can Help Reach the Most Marginalized

You Can Help Reach the Most Marginalized

Our first network expansion will be three new Eye Hospitals with 11 supporting Vision Centers in the Western Highlands region.

This region is home to the most marginalized and underserved population with the highest prevalence of treatable blindness – the indigenous Mayans.

Among them are 1,729,854 people suffering untreated refraction errors and 43,886 people in need of cataract surgeries with no access to care.

We need $10 million to start the project.

We have $2 million in lead pledges already.

Project Narrative

  • More project background
  • Why expansion is necessary
  • How we’ll get this done
  • Expected challenges
  • Experience-based solutions
  • What your gift will mean
  • Gifting opportunities
  • Project partners & supporters
  • Visualiza National Rollout

Project Budget

Dear Vincent,

We are proud to dedicate the Visualiza National Plan for comprehensive eye care across Guatemala to your memory.

The plane crash that took your life in 1996 at age 35 on your way to build a second orphanage in neighboring Honduras left us heartbroken. But we have kept that promise we made to each other in the rainforest – to somehow find a way to cure all preventable blindness in Guatemala.

Our humble thanks for your first call to Vision for the Poor that brought us all together, opened our eyes to immeasurable suffering, inspired the creation of Visualiza, and set us on this path. We are almost there!

With Love,
Our Vision for the Poor & Visualiza Team

Vincent and Zulena Pescatore with family and as a young couple.

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