Megan Jayne Zabell

Megan Jayne Zabell

I’d highly recommend the Eyes 4 Everest trek to anyone and everyone!

The physical challenge I was prepared for, but what I found really surprising was the mental challenge as well. But working together as a group with a shared goal is what really helped us get there in the end.

It’s amazing to be on the other side of the world, knowing only a handful of words of the local language, and working with a team of people who were strangers a few days ago, all just working together to help in whatever small way we can.

10/10, would do again.
— Megan Jayne Zabell - Melbourne Optometrist

Ashleigh Wong

Ashleigh Wong

The Eyes4Everest EBC trip has changed my entire perspective on life.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be able to help people who can’t access the care they need and through this experience, I was able to achieve this dream... but I’ve also gained so much more. It has changed the definition of hard work for me, seeing the way the locals give continually and never give up in the hardest of conditions (and continue smiling through it all) is something I’ll treasure forever.
— Ashleigh Wong - Canberra Optometrist

In-Hae Park

In-Hae Park

No words can truly describe the experiences of the past 15 days.

It opened my eyes and heart to the people and culture of Nepal. Helping the Sherpa people of the Everest region was a humbling experience as I came away feeling they helped me more than I helped them.

The physical and mental struggles of hiking to base camp was beyond anything I had put myself through. It taught me resilience, patience and perseverance and that I can further widen my comfort zone. But what I treasure the most is our team. We had the best team that bonded instantly and our Sherpa guides were the best anyone could ask for.

I come away with memories and relationships to last a lifetime.
— In-hae Park - Wellington Optometrist
Tough Journey, mesmerising views, inspirational people, amazing group, fantastic guides: unforgettable experience.
— Dennis Han - Banker

W3 Weinberg

W3 Weinberg

My motivation to join Eyes4Everest stemmed from a deep personal need within to make a difference to communities that lack access to eye care. I believe good vision is a basic human right and have a strong sense for social justice and equality regardless of race, beliefs or demographics.

I always knew this journey would be different from previous experiences, in that for the first time, I was to be challenged in a physical sense and pushed outside my comfort zone. Never before did I have to rely on my own two feet to get me to my destination, let alone face the struggles of altitude.

I felt a great sense of pride in being able to share this journey with my children, Shane and Tali. For years, they had been exposed to my passion for giving back and to share this experience with them would give them an opportunity to experience first hand how meaningful it feels to “pay it forward” and provide perspective for the privilege they have had in being brought up in Australia.

Team EBC 2018 came together as a group of strangers bound by our common goals. We quickly let down our guard and firm friendships were instantly established. We enjoyed sharing our personal stories and learned about our cultures, family backgrounds, and personal interests.

The clinics were a highlight. We were able to provide access to good vision for some and for others, we hope that the referrals will be followed through and good outcomes achieved. I personally spent hours thinking about how to make Shaun’s legacy more sustainable and have an even bigger long-term impact. Visiting Kumjung was a personal highlight. We felt a great sense of pride to meet the families of our guides and their warmth and hospitality radiated upon us. Connecting the past and where it all began to the future of a permanent clinic sight made a lasting impression and fuelled my desire to continue to work closely with Eyes4Everest to have a lasting impact for the beautiful people of the Himalayas.

It is ultimately the triumph of the human spirit that lives with me. I know, categorically, that I walked away with more than I gave. To watch the spirit of the Nepalese people taught me so many life lessons. They all helped each other, their strong sense for the community and for looking out for each other was palpable. Nobody was ever self-serving and the family and community values resonated strongly and aligned with my personal priorities.

A stand out was without a doubt our Sherpa Guides. These multi-faceted men have my utmost respect and admiration. We were not the strongest, physically fit group and not only did they guide our way, but they motivated every step we walked. They transformed into translators at clinics and their skills often left us in awe of their capability to take over some of the tests, having fun with the patients along the way. They cooked for us, kept us well nourished and had an intuitive eye on each of us, knowing just when a little extra care was needed. I personally know that I would not have made my journey to Base Camp and back without the support of these amazingly humble and beautiful people. They did more than guide us, they were role models in human behaviour and leadership and their attributes can’t be praised more highly.

Without wanting to sound cliched, these experiences shape who we are and leave a lasting impact on building our character. I will forever be connected to the people and know that these memories and every challenging step we took will be remembered fondly for years to come.
— Robyn Weinberg - Bailey Nelson Eyecare Director
 W3 successfully reached Everest Base Camp

W3 successfully reached Everest Base Camp

Coming from a non-optical background, I joined the Eyes4Everest team not knowing exactly how, or if, I was going to be able to make an impact on this journey.

What I soon realised is that having knowledge and skills is a huge asset, but being able to open our hearts, provide ears to listen and hands to help is truly the greatest gift of all. By interacting with the locals and seeing their immense gratitude it became clear that even the smallest acts of kindness were making a difference.

The Eyes4Everest journey taught me about the human spirit, both that we as a group demonstrated and what we received in return. I was truly overwhelmed by the warmth, kindness, generosity, and passion demonstrated by our guides, patients and Nepalese locals we met along the way. Nothing was ever too much to ask or done without a smile. So too I learnt about the power of the mind. Hiking and pushing our bodies to our limits demonstrated the importance of tenacity, determination and strength.

I walk away from this experience with a huge admiration and respect for all the people I met along the way and countless memories and life lessons that I will always treasure.
— Tali Weinberg
 Phakding Eye Mission

Phakding Eye Mission

Everyone can be great because anyone can help.

Being one of the few non-optoms on this journey, I felt humbled playing a part in such an amazing team on an incredible mission.

Despite my Nepalese vocab being limited to “Namaste”, the gesture was always returned with the largest most welcoming smiles. Straying off the tourist track, we were able to experience a more authentic Sherpa experience, highlighting the people’s humility, patience and fierce dedication to work. The trip proved challenging both physically, mentally and emotionally, taking us all a little outside our comfort zones. Working together as a team, we achieved so much more than expected, and through it all, friendships were forged through the blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids whose hilarious stories can’t be mentioned.
— Shane Weinberg
 Shane, Tali and Tashi Doma Sherpa Optometrist

Shane, Tali and Tashi Doma Sherpa Optometrist

Na Pham

Na Pham

Eyes are the windows to the soul - We all embarked on this journey with a primary mission to provide eye care for people of the Himalayan region. From the tranquil landscape and humble communities encountered, I’m able to walk away with much more than I was able to provide, a fulfilled soul.

Thank you to each and every member of EBC 2018, this journey wouldn’t have been possible without your strength and dedication!
— Na Pham - Melbourne Optometrist

Ashley George

Ashley George

Working with Eyes4Everest was the most rewarding and broadening experience I’ve had to date. This expedition fulfilled me in so many ways, and exhausted me mentally and physically.

What impacted me the most was the genuine connection I was able to create with a team I’d never worked with before, patients from what felt like an entire world away, and the Nepalese family we formed with our guides and porters.

Despite different cultures, languages and ways of life, I felt connections and genuine understandings with the Nepalese people. Although the objective of our mission was to provide needed eye care health to the remote villages of the Himalayas, I feel like I’m leaving with a more satisfied soul and heart. Seeing the faces of those we helped is invaluable.

Being a dispenser was always a secondary career for me, something I never really thought I could change the world with. But seeing myself use skills I took for granted, to help people who really needed it has changed my world, something I’ll never take for granted again. I’m leaving Nepal feeling more inspired than ever before, and I really do hope I’ll be back here to continue more work with the Himalayan mountain communities.
— Ashley George - Sydney Optical Dispenser

Wendy Berlecky

Wendy Berlecky

When I received the email asking for volunteers for the Annapurna mission. I recalled a recount from a couple of years earlier where, on the last morning of the clinic in some remote village, they had opened the windows only to see the queue to the clinic trailing off down the hill. Word had spread and villagers had walked for hours to have their eyes tested. Unfortunately they couldn’t get to everyone that last day so many made the long walk home unseen. That broke my heart.

Being 57 years old though, I didn’t think it was something I would be able to be a part of. My family were all very supportive and confident that I was fit enough so I went ahead and volunteered. It has been the most amazing experience!

I was on the refraction team and, after doing a ret, holding up lenses my patient grabbed my hands and wouldn’t let go because they could see for the first time in years! I will always treasure the huge grin when I took her outside to show her how the world should look; and the enormous hug at the end of it all.

I think I have the dubious honour of being the oldest volunteer to date but please don’t let age deter you from such an amazing experience. You won’t regret it.
— Wendy Berlecky - Sydney Optometrist

Jenny Hsieh

Jenny Hsieh

This is my third trip to Nepal with Eyes4Everest. When I first heard that there is need for primary eye care in the Everest region, naturally I felt I should be there. I can put my skills to use where it’s needed and it’s such an amazing part of the world!

This ABC trip has been a wonderful experience. Apart from the rewarding feeling of completing the trek and helping people solve eye problems, what is invaluable to me is all the wonderful people I get to spend time with on the trip. Sherpas are the sweetest and kindest people you’d ever meet. As well, spending time with your colleagues in an environment where life is so simple and basic, you get to know a different side of them.

Being close to nature somehow bring out people’s real selves. Genuine human connection happens - something we are getting less and less of as the world gets faster and busier. The ABC trip is surely not sipping cocktails by the pool side. The experience is second to none and will forever hold a special place in the hearts of those that share the same precious memories
— Jenny Hsieh - Brisbane Optometrist & E4E Secretary

Pete Gardner

Pete Gardner

As I write, I am sitting in the hotel in Kathmandu, having a momentary break from the noise and chaos of this incredible city. We have handed over the optometry equipment and plenty of advice (listen to your guides and look after your porters!!) to the Everest team, who have now assembled before they fly out to start their mission tomorrow. I am looking forward to following their adventures over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!!

It has been my immense honour and privilege to work with Team ABC 2018, thank you to Wendy, Ashley, Megan, Jenny, and especially Tashy! an awesome team of professionals to work with! A special thanks to our Supermen Mani, Dil and Laxman who carried a couple of consulting rooms to the top of a mountain! And we couldn’t have done this without the care and watchful gaze of our guides Kami and Santosh! Thank you all for the last three weeks this has been an immeasurable experience, and I am now fitter than I have been for a decade!

Finally, I need to say a heartfelt thank you to our families back home. Without your support none of this would be possible. Thank you and love to you all.

Chances like this don’t come along very often, when they do, grasp them with both hands and don’t let go!
— Pete Gardner - Perth Optometrist & Photographer
 ABC Team 2018

ABC Team 2018