“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed that’s all who ever have.” — Margaret Mead
A few years ago, Donna and I were on a tour of Vietnam. Always on the scout for autograph and manuscript material, we stopped in antique shop after “old stuff” shop. We found a place called “54 Traditions” in Hanoi. The shop is run by Dr. Mark Rapoport — an American pediatrician who served in Vietnam during the War. He opened 54 Traditions in 2001 stocking it with his collection of textiles, jewelry, art and tools from Vietnam. I bought a few nice goodies. But what made an impression was Mark.
During the War as a medical intern, he worked in a hospital. While visiting an outlying village, a very old woman was unable to see something on a piece of paper. He handed her his reading glasses. Tears filled her eyes. She could see. Clearly. Mark was so touched by the experience that he gave the woman his glasses. She said she could now embroider again.
Mark went out and bought a few extra pair of reading glasses. And gave them away to others who could not read or see “close up.” Since then he has given away thousands of reading glasses (1.5x – 2.0x). And he helped inspire the Reading Glass Project — http://www.readingglassproject.org an organization dedicated to providing glasses to those in developing countries who are dealing with age-related presbyopia (vision which impedes reading, threading a needle or doing visually-detailed tasks).
The Reading Glass Project sells glasses for $2.00 (a lot cheaper than at the pharmacy). But they urge us – when we visit developing countries – to bring along some reading glasses to give to those without. The motto of this group is
“Be more than a tourist. Be a hero.”