AMIGOS derives its name from the organization AMIGOS delas Americas (Friends of the Americas). This organization was originally founded in 1960 by a group of North Americans who were traveling to remote areas of Honduras. The mayor in one particular town said that the people of his village had never seen a doctor and that they had been “forgotten even by God”. The group of tourists felt that they could make a difference, so they set out to provide some type of health care to those remote areas. Since then, AMIGOS de las Americas has extended its humanitarian services to fourteen countries. Currently, volunteer projects for teens are the primary focus of the group.
AMIGOS de las Americas at Pacific University’s College of Optometry
Most eye care missions consisted of teams of one or two optometry students and several high school students. The optometry students would provide eye exams, while the high school students would help with paper work and dispensing. Generally, the interns would spend one month traveling from village to village. In preparation for a typical mission, 1000 – 3000 pairs of eyeglasses would be verified and transported to the foreign country. In the clinic over a one month period, 750 – 1000 patients in the various towns would be examined.
Eye care missions during the late 1970’s included trips to: Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Due to the specialized service that these trips provided, AMIGOS at Pacific University required its own leadership and bylaws as the program grew. Due to this indepedent leadership, over time AMIGOS at Pacific University became less closely affiliated with AMIGOS de las Americas.< div class="fusion-clearfix">