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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tête à Tête #30 with Dr Elena Barraquer.

On this first interview of 2017, I have the immense pleasure to do it with none other than the well known Dr Elena Barraquer of the world famous Barraquer Clinic
I met her in January and asked about the wonderful work she does in her NGO: The Fundacion Barraquer. She was leaving to Senegal the next day. 
In 2003 Professor Joaquín Barraquer, together with his children, Dr. Elena Barraquer & Prof Rafael I Barraquer decided to take a further step in their vocation to help everyone as equals, and instituted the Barraquer Foundation, in order to provide eye treatment to populations in depressed areas of the world. That same year, Professor Joaquín Barraquer sold his Mercedes 540K, gift to his father from the  King Farouk -of which only three units were known in the world. The benefits from the sale were the initial capital of what is now known as Barraquer Foundation.

BelleBarcelone: How did the idea of the foundation was born?
Dr Elena Barraquer: it was a continuation of the idea that my grand father had given where the people with limited economical resources were provided the same treatment as the others. We decided to go a step forward and open up to the world. 

BB: In which countries do you go? 
Dr EB: Our first mission was to Senegal. And from then on we just carried on, we are sometimes called by the countries or by different NGO around the world. We have been to various countries in Africa such as Senegal, Nigeria, Congo, Cameroun, Gabon. We also have been to Morocco and to Kenya. We have also gone to India & Bangladesh; and to the Dominican Republic. 

BB: What are the factors that could affect these cataracts. 
DR EB: There are a lot more of cataracts in those countries due to the sun & mal nutrition. We have sometimes children also. Those are the most gratifying when a child who has never been able to see clearly can now see properly. 

BB: Any particular experience, which has marked you?
DR EB: I remember a negative experience where the last patient in Gabon was left without lenses as the hospital had misplaced them. We couldn’t perform the surgery. The feeling of helplessness was overpowering. 
We have to go through a series of tests for people to qualify for the operations. The patients with most problems have priority. It is a long procedure but we are not able to take everyone. 
On a positive note, I will always remember this child of 10 years In Bangladesh who could finally see: he saw the birds flying and said : Pakhi ( bird in Bangladesh).  He repeated Pakhi…
In 2015 we had a similar experience with a girl of 15 years in Angola. 
Those are very touching and gratifying moments. We do almost 45 operations per day. 
 There are all sorts of moments & emotions in these expeditions. 

BB: Is it easy to organize these expeditions?  
Dr EB: Not really. We work hand in hand with the government of the country we go. Sometimes we don’t get authorizations easily. We face some problems from time to time. Sometimes we have a language barrier like it happened in Mozambique & Angola. But in general it goes on well. The airlines are very cooperative with the extra weight due to all the material we take. We are very grateful to all the collaborators. 

BB: How to you get the money for the foundations. 
Dr EB: We have sponsors, we get donations from institutions, private donations, promotional events…


Favorite Movie: The Graduate.

Favorite song: Stairway to Heaven. 

Favorite dish: “ Pies de Cerdo” ( pork’s feet) 

Favorite cuisine: Fine Spanish Cuisine

 Favorite chef: Romain Fornell. 

Favorite color: Turquoise

Favorite Holiday: On the beach. Anywhere on the beach. Fundu Lagoon in Tanzania. 

Hobby: Long walks with my dog. I love listening to music.


A day with BelleBarcelone

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