Mission 2016

    My quest for professional service, fellowship, and travel began in 1983 as a fourth year optometry student in Cape Haitian, Haiti. During that trip we connected with the local town and the Catholic Church to provide visual screenings, exams, simple medical treatments, eyeglasses, and sunglasses to the Haitian citizens. Fast forward 33 years to January 2016, I completed my eighth foreign mission trip. This year my wife Sue accompanied me on her first mission trip to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. She had heard of the people, places, and politics of past mission trips that I completed alongside our daughter Deanna. The mission trip of 2016 proved to be a new experience in many ways for the both of us.
Our trip to Nicaragua was not too far; it took us about six hours by plane. We flew from Hartford to Miami and then to Managua. Spanish is widely spoken, and English is used less frequently. It is difficult to communicate without an attempt at speaking the native tongue.
Many locals grabbed at our bags, attempting to squeeze a tip out of us as we started our journey to San Juan del Sur. I noticed a Nicaraguan man making a rose out of a piece of palm in less than a minute. He, too, was looking for financial compensation for his efforts. The temperature was in the mid 80s, and most people were wearing short sleeve shirts and loose fitting pants. Upon traveling a short distance from the airport, we noticed the smell of burning mesquite.Warding off the evening mosquitoes is critical in this tropical area.
    Our mission group arrived in several waves, each finding their way to the mission town on separate buses. Our bus ride to San Juan del Sur was about two and a half hours. The city is nestled in the southwestern edge of Nicaragua, about 30 miles from the border of Costa Rica,. On my first mission trip, I observed many dirt roads, street dogs, and colorful street vendors that sold local flowers, fruit, and painted ceramics.

    Approaching San Juan del Sur, we noticed several very large wind turbines that were SJdSBeach2016a395x296b72dpigenerating power at the edge of Lake Nicaragua; I also saw a few volcanoes. On the outskirts of town we began to see that the open countryside thinned and turned into a tighter more settled community. Pretty views and tropical plants were seen throughout the town.
    Our mission started on Sunday, though many trip volunteers arrived early to enjoy the tourism. Everyone brought with bags of supplies, which we transported to our clinic site - the local elementary school. The bags contained sunglasses, eye medications and lubricants, Lions Club glasses, and other supplies that helped us to provide quality eyecare.
    Most of us ate and completed activities together. We usually got up at sunrise and Sue and I walked around the town and along the beach before the start of our work day. Our arrival at the clinic was welcomed by a few buses of patients waiting outside our clinic rooms. Each clinic room was staffed by one licensed doctor and five optometry interns from United States schools. Interpreters were also present in every clinic room and in the optical. We served over 3,200 patients. We provided a pair of sunglasses to everyone, as well as prescription glasses, over the counter readers, and medications when needed.
    The days were exhausting and exhilarating as we saw a variety of patients. Many common conditions were seen but also several unusual ones. These cases were shared with other clinicicians. Some patients were illiterate and could not identify letters or numbers. However, we were able to help improve their vision using directional E or shape eyecharts.
    The temperature and long days took a toll on all of us. It was a marathon, yet the fourth and final day proved a bittersweet. My wife, daughter, and I have many great memories of the care we provided, the lives we touched, and the lessons we learned. You give a piece of yourself during these trips, yet you always get something back in return. A third world country like Nicaragua has many third world elements. It took time to overview the nuances of this country and how it has changed over the seven years I have traveled there. Some policies allow the people to create better lives. Clean water, health care, education and social class provide struggles for many Nicaraguans. Despite these challenges, the Nicaraguans I have come to know have impacted my life in a positive way. Through my experiences with these amazing individuals, both Nicaraguans and American volunteers alike, I have grown immensely as a clinician and person. Each year I return home to the United States appreciative of the ability to share my skills, provide service to those in need, and continue to learn through my experiences.


    Dr. Tom Margius, a Milford Optometrist, volunteered in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Sue, his wife, was happy and energized by her experience working in the optical dispensary. Tom and Sue are proud to provide service to their local and international communities.

Mondo Ponds in Milford, CT - a summer morning walk through the park.
View of Charles Island from Silver Sands State Park boardwalk in Milford, CT.
Landing bee at Beaverbrook Trail in Milford, CT
Statue of Lady of Good and Evil in a home garden in Milford, CT
Early morning sunrise at Mondo Ponds in Milford, CT just before the clouds roll in for an overcast day.
City Hall in Milford, CT
View of Charles Island from Fort Trumbull in Milford, CT in winter.
View of the beach looking toward Silver Sands State Park in Milford, CT
View of the reed grass and boardwalk at Silver Sands State Park in Milford, CT
View of an estuary behind the Animal Shelter in Milford, CT
Early morning view of Charles Island from the beach area near Silver Sands State Park in Milford, CT
The Gazebo/Bandstand on the Green in Milford, CT
A winter seagull from the beach looking out into the Long Island Sound in Milford, CT
View of Charles Island on the Long Island Sound from Walnut Beach in Milford, CT
View of Wepawaug Bridge under the train tressle on Prospect Street. I doctored this image to get rid of wires and roof fans!
View of Mondo Ponds in Fall 2016 - just before the leaves fell.
A wild turkey in a side yard October 2016 showing it's feathers!
Closest view of the moon in November 2016.
Swirl of leaves at Mondo Ponds - shot at about a 30th of a second rotating the camera circularly.
A beautiful early morning late March snowfall. Snow was gone by noon that day.