In November 2016, I’ll be joining a team of opticians on a Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) project to Sierra Leone. We will be one of the first eye care teams to visit since the Ebola crisis in 2014. Over the 2 weeks we hope to conduct eye tests on 750 people as well as train local staff to continue the work after we leave. It is also likely that the team will have to deal with the ocular after effects of recovered Ebola victims.
VAO celebrated its 30th Anniversary last year. In the early years of VAO and my career as an Optometrist just beginning in Ashton in Makerfield, I visited Tanzania. Supported by the Lions Clubs we set up eye clinics in areas where there was no access to eye care. People traveled for days and queued for hours for an eye test and in hope of receiving a pair of donated spectacles. When we left we took with us the hope of restoring vision until another team could return.
It is almost 30 years since my Tanzania trip and I am still working as an optometrist . Now its time for a new challenge. I feel I want to give something back, to pass on the knowledge I have learnt in a career I am passionate about. To help restore and preserve vision in a country with great need of help. Poor sight causes poverty by keeping children from learning, stopping parents from working and lowering the family income. Many live life as if they are visually impaired just because of the need of a pair of spectacles.
This time the focus of VAO is to develop vision centres, training local health professionals to carry out eye tests and give them the
equipment needed to make spectacles. This is a sustainable method allowing eye care to continue in underdeveloped countries long after we leave.
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Best Wishes Janet
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