OSA IS A 15-YEAR-OLD Mexican immigrant who
came to the United States last year with her family. As a young
girl, she suffered an eye injury that left her right eye deformed
and opaque. She entered the school system in Houston and was having
a difficult time with classes due to the language barrier and difference
One day, Rosa’s mother brought her to the CHRISTUS Southwest
Community Medical Center for a checkup. Rosa had been attacked by
a group of girls at school who had been taunting her for some time
due to her appearance. A fight ensued, and Rosa had been beaten
by the girls. While her physical injuries were minor, Rosa’s
spirit was terribly broken as a result of her language barrier and
unsightly eye. In fact, she said she never wanted to return to school!
evening, I went home wondering what we could do for Rosa to make
her life better. I knew her family had no money for cosmetic surgery
or a prosthesis, but eventually, it occurred to me that a cosmetic
contact lens might do the trick. I decided to contact the San Jose
clinic, and there, I talked with the physician in charge of the
University of Houston Optometry clinic. He agreed to see Rosa and
to also have her examined by an ophthalmologist to ensure that her
eye could not be repaired.
When we told the family, they were elated. The clinic staff had
graciously given Rosa an appointment for the next day, and we emphasized
how important it was to arrive on time. The next day, Rosa’s
mother showed up at our clinic, without Rosa, an hour before her
daughter’s scheduled appointment at the San Jose clinic. Distressed,
she explained that she had been afraid to take her daughter out
of school after the fighting incident and that she wasn’t
sure if she could even find a ride downtown.
While I called the school and obtained permission for Rosa to leave
for the appointment, we sent the mother to collect her daughter
immediately. From the school, Rosa and her mother took a cab downtown,
but due to the language barrier, ended up at CHRISTUS St. Joseph
Hospital, rather than the San José clinic. After wandering
around there for a while, an unknown Associate, who has obviously
learned the CHRISTUS core values well, stopped the two and took
time to find out where they were trying to go. When the Associate
realized they were in the wrong place, he took it upon himself to
find a ride for Rosa and her mother so they could get to the San
José clinic as quickly as possible.
They arrived at the clinic three hours late for their appointment,
but when the staff heard their story, they agreed to see Rosa anyway.
After several ophthalmologic examinations, it was decided that a
cosmetic contact lens would be the best option for Rosa and that
she needed glasses as well. The physician from the School of Optometry
just happened to know some members of the Lyons Club Eye Foundation
Board, so he consulted with them. They agreed to pay for the contact
lens and new glasses for Rosa.
Rosa’s new “look” has given her a new outlook
on life, and she has since come back to visit our clinic. She smiles
now, is more confident, styles her hair differently (before, she
combed it over her face to cover her eye) and is doing much better
This is a marvelous example of how many people coming together can
significantly change the life of a child for the better. Rosa’s
smile was the only payment we needed for our collective efforts.
Sister Rosanne Popp, M.D.
CHRISTUS Southwest Community Health Center