“You will have to talk to the state.” That's what an Iraqi woman was told Thursday afternoon after she was informed the State of Washington no longer covers eye glasses for adults on state assistance.
We had spent an hour at the optometrist's office, after being referred there by the woman's doctor. She was assured that insurance would cover the visit. Turns out the state would only pay for determining what was wrong, not for the actual care.
This woman has been trying to get a job for the past couple of years and so far has been unsuccessful. She attends English classes at night via the public transportation system and is a mother of two teenage children. She has diabetes and a medical problem with one of her legs. She came here from Iraq during our military's campaign there. She had to choose between staying as a refugee in a country outside of Iraq, which wouldn't allow her residency, or she could move to the U.S. Her journey has been tough, leaving family and friends and struggling to adjust to life in America. She looked at me as I tried to explain she would have to pay $100 for the glasses she needed. I know she lives on less than $500 cash a month and didn't have the money. It was an awkward moment as we stood at the counter looking at the glasses, the bill and the financial distance between.
I told the lady behind the counter that our church would pay for the glasses. The church gets donations for situations like this. I want this woman to be well, to see correctly and to be able to succeed at finding a job and providing for her family.
Our nation and state are facing deep budget cuts. I pay a lot of taxes and that money pays for all kinds of stuff I would never spend it on (like wars). On Thursday I felt the impact of those budget cuts as I was looked straight into the eyes of this woman. I know the church is going to be called upon to step into the gap that is growing between the state and the poor. That will probably please some politically right leaning types of people, until they realize that the church is us. So in the days ahead, the question will be — what are we going to do about it?
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