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The Journal of Ophthalmic Photography makes it to Vanautu!

Posted By Alexis Cullen, Friday, July 10, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In my tiny village of Naviso, with no truck road, no electricity, and no cell phone network, I was walking down a dirt footpath when a woman ran out of her hut, saying she had a letter for me.  I thought it was the typical handwritten note passed down over the mountain from another volunteer or a local who I was working on a project with; however, I was shocked when the biannual issue of the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography was placed into my hands, perfectly packaged in its original plastic, no evidence of wear or tear from the trek it had made!     


It was addressed to me, and even though there is no post office on my island, it was passed person to person until it made it to me.  When leaving for the Peace Corps, I had updated my address on the OPS website.  I knew the address I was adding was not viable for mail, but I had totally forgotten about actually receiving correspondence such as the JOP.  I had thought I was just putting it up there so everyone knew I was in the Peace Corps, halfway around the world.  An accidental experiment proved truly valuable!  It worked! Somehow, the postal system in Vanuatu worked, even though the postal service/road technically ends on Ambae, a neighboring island to our West. This spring issue of the JOP went hand to hand until the last hand made it to me.

I tore the plastic (thank you to JOP for packaging the journal so nicely! It wouldn’t have made it in one piece otherwise!) and opened it as four village women crowded around me to look at the pictures of eyeballs.  I tried as best as I could to explain what we were looking at - the inside of the eye - a timely issue as we have one woman who just went blind at the age of 30 secondary to a seizure disorder.  We also have one 22-year-old male who has a traumatic cataract in one eye after a piece of bamboo hit him in the eye when he was helping to build a house.   


Being here in the village, life is hard – our stores are empty as we only have a ship that comes to our island three or four times a year to pick up Copra (a coconut export) and drop off supplies. You learn how to live with what you have at hand and to improvise. But somehow . . . the JOP made it! 

Thank you OPS! 


About the Author: Alexis left the field of ophthalmic photography in late 2013 to fulfill her life long dream of joining the Peace Corps. She is currently serving in the island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific with her husband, Steve.  When she is finished with Peace Corps service, she hopes to pursue a career in telemedicine.  Even though she is not currently in the field of ophthalmology, she maintains her CRA and OCT-C credentials. You can read more about her Peace Corps experience at

Tags:  blog  Interactive  Meaningful Use  New Life  PDC  Peace Corps  Travel  Vanuatu 

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Comments on this post...

James Soque CRA OCT-C COA FOPS says...
Posted Friday, July 10, 2015
Way to go Lexy!!!
That story beats The Pony Express by several bodies of ocean water!
Wishing you and Steve good thoughts this (winter) summer!
Permalink to this Comment }

Barbara S. McCalley says...
Posted Sunday, July 12, 2015
How exciting it made it to you and not too delayed.
Stay well and safe! We miss you!
Permalink to this Comment }

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