Coral Gables High senior Caroline Bauwens spent her junior year collecting and calibrating more than 700 prescription and reading glasses to be distributed to the needy in Haiti.
She chose to do this project for her International Baccalaureate community service project because she is myopic and understands the need for glasses.
Overhearing conversations between kids at the Little Haiti Cultural Center about their families in Haiti convinced her that Haitians needed the glasses.
“One kid always joked that his grandfather couldn’t see very well and always bumped into things,” she said.
In September, Bauwens went to Haiti to distribute the glasses. “It was great.
It was the experience past anything I imagined it would be,” she said. “It was worth the year collecting and calibrating the glasses.”
The first day, she went to a mountain town to give out the glasses.
“I had reading glasses,” she said. “We spent the afternoon passing out glasses to people who needed some. Many people can’t read but they need the glasses to do small tasks, like remove small rocks from their rice.”
Bauwens said she knows some of them might sell their glasses and use the money for their children.
“The older ones will use the glasses,” she said.
She is happy that a lot of children will benefit. The doctor she was working with planned to visit a school to do eye exams and distribute glasses.
Her project kept her busy but Bauwens still managed to play doubles for the Gables tennis team.
“We’re a very strong team. The boys won state last year and the girls were in districts,” she said.
She also runs cross-country for Gables and plays singles for the club tennis team at Dante Fascell Park.
Bauwens is a member of the IB Honor Society, the communications secretary for the National Honor Society and sports editor of the yearbook.
— Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld