“LOOKING INTO YOUR EYES”
The premise for this project is to ensure the best eyesight for all, given that it is vital to proper physical and intellectual development, particularly for the youngest amongst us. At present, one still finds cases amongst the most vulnerable of families in which children of school age do not have annual eye tests.
At the end of May we began the first eye tests for children convened by the Centres Oberts de Catalunya. We visited centres in the town of Viladecans and in the Barcelona districts of El Raval and La Mina.
We tested the eyesight of 228 boys and girls and provided 81 of them with prescription glasses.
Centres Oberts de Catalunya:
To fully understand the nature of this project, first one needs to understand just what the Centres Oberts de Catalunya are: outside of the standard school day, they offer young people a service aimed to support, stimulate and reinforce the structuring and development of the individual’s personality, socialisation, acquisition of basic knowledge and skills and ability to engage in leisure activities. They also seek to offset socio-educational deficits by way of individual, group and family therapy, networking and community work.
One of the main goals of a Centre Obert is to care for minors at risk, favour their personal development and social integration, help them acquire knowledge and skills, prevent them either from succumbing to, or the worsening of, situations of risk and offset socio-educational deficits.
For the purposes of this project, we joined forces with two other important organisations with extensive experience in the optical sector: Vision for Life de Essilor, a philanthropic programme aimed at accelerating initiatives seeking to reduce visual deficits through awareness, enablement and the creation of basic eye care infrastructure. The programme is run by ESSILOR as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility policy. Remember that the mission statement of ESSILOR is “Improving eyesight to improve lives”. The other organisation involved is the Terrassa University Centre for Eye Care, the University Clinic run by the Terrassa School of Optics and Optometry (FOOT). Its mission: To stand as a reference centre for quality eye care, pursuing academic excellence in both in its teaching and research work. Amongst its goals we find the establishment of links with society to enhance the perception of the social function of the University.
And, of course, all the supporting opticians who have heeded our call to join the project.
THE EYES OF SENEGAL
Our Senegal project seeks to carry out eye tests on all the boys and girls in the schools of the outlying and rural districts of the country where resources are scant. In 2016 we organised two expeditions to the areas of Bakel and Kaolack. We saw 800 boys and girls, of which 210 required prescription glasses.
For this project we have worked alongside two other institutions with extensive experience both in Senegal and in the optical sector:
Associació Mirades: a not for profit association specialising in optometry with the goal of eradicating all avoidable blindness caused by uncorrected refractive defects. It was established in 2013.
Asociación Gesta-África: the association has worked in Senegal for ten years with different projects in diverse areas of healthcare. Over the last five years it has specialised in ophthalmological surgery.
And, the prescription lenses donated for the 210 cases mentioned above came from Grupo Prats and Vision for Life de Essilor.
SELF-SUSTAINING SOLIDARY OPTICIAN IN MOZAMBIQUE
In November, in Inhambane, Mozambique, we opened a “Self-sustaining Solidary Optician” managed by an association of local women. The idea is to empower women. We had seen that the number of women able to exercise their basic right to visual health was noticeably lower than the percentage of men.
We chose to call it a “Self-sustaining Solidary Optician” since the price at which prescription glasses are sold is far lower than market value with a view to ensuring access to a greater part of the population. The homeless pay nothing at all for them.
Thanks to the provision of frames, lenses and machinery and the setting up of a workshop, organised in coordination with the Ulls del Mon Foundation, the women from the association who run the optician are able to save their net income and we estimate that after two years of support with the donation of material and repairs of any machinery there may be issues with, they will be able to use the funds saved to replace and buy new material and continue making glasses, thus achieving an operation totally capable of sustaining itself.
At present it is the only optician in the whole of the Province of Inhambane, with a total population of 1,300,000 inhabitants.
In this case our work was in collaboration with Ulls del Món Foundation, who invited us to join in with the project.
UNIVERSAL AND OCULAR HEALTH PROJECT IN DAR SALAM; DIALOKOTO, SENEGAL
Etnia Barcelona Foundation proposed its Visual Health programme to offer greater support and enhance the Universal Health Project and help further incentivise the involvement of more families. We tested the eyes of a large part of the population of the township of Dar Salam, where we saw 150 adults, and also performed eye tests in the schools of the townships of Dar Salam and Niemenike, a total of 450 boys and girls aged between 4 and 16. We also tested the eyesight of all of the teachers at the schools visited.
In all we found 60 people in need of prescription glasses.
The Visual Health Programme falls under the general umbrella of the Universal Health Project started by Asociación de Cooperación Fallou ONGD for the Rural Community of Dialakoto. The aim of the Project is to set up a local Health Cooperative, financed by a Local Contribution System, to offer the local community a small scale Universal Healthcare System which will guarantee access to an efficient, top quality “Primary Care Centre” for the whole population.
In addition to offering free year round care to all the population (helping to provide the early diagnosis and treatment of such serious diseases as Malaria and thus exponentially reducing mortality), it has also succeeded in reducing the cost of medication and providing an ambulance service so that the more serious cases may be taken directly to the General Hospital in Tambacounda.
The goal is for as many of the surrounding townships in the Community to join the Cooperative so that the Senegalese Ministry of Health will provide and pay the salary of a fully qualified doctor for the centre.
Participants: Viladecans Town Hall, which financed the expedition, the NGO FALLOU, ESSILOR-SIVO-SENEGAL
EXPEDITION TO MAURITANIA WITH THE BARRAQUER FOUNDATION
Mauritania was our destination. The goal of the Barraquer Foundation: to perform cataract operations on as many cases as possible. Our mission was to detect and correct problems with the eyesight of the Mauritanian population.
Over the 7 days of the expedition we saw 850 men, women and children. We found 186 cases in need of prescription glasses. We also provided 200 pairs of sunglasses for those patients who had had cataract operations.
Participants: Thanks to the generous donation of lenses by Grupo Prats, we were able to provide all those in need with prescription glasses during our visit to Mauritania. And, of course, thanks to the Barraquer Foundation
DONATION OF FRAMES TO OTHER ORGANISATIONS
We donated frames to other organisations engaged in projects with which we identified.
- 2,000 frames- Tindouf Refugee Camp
- 5,040 prescription frames to Terrassa University Centre for Eye Care, to support their social programme to test the eyesight of all people in need.
- 400 prescription frames – Barcelona Joan Brossa Institute – in support of their social programme.
- 150 frames for victims of the Italian earthquake.
In all, this year we donated 9,492 prescription frames and pairs of sunglasses.
We tested the eyesight of a total of 3,991 people (mostly boys and girls)
We donated 703 pairs of prescription glasses to school boys and girls.