“LOOKING INTO YOUR EYES” PROJECT
Through our local programme, “Looking into your eyes”, once again this year we have offered optical care to boys and girls living in or on the poverty line and provided proper follow-up on their visual health, in our quest to help boost academic achievement and improve the quality of their lives.
Our goal is to offer an integrated visual health programme through the alliances we have forged with other organisations, the aim of which is to treat all conditions we may encounter and provide either visual therapy or surgery, if needed, all free of charge.
Our “Looking into your eyes” programme first kicked off in May 2016, operating through the Catalan Network of Open Centres, attended by children referred by local Social Services.
During term time the centres open to minors at the end of the school day, with their teams of support optometrists and student volunteers from the Terrassa School of Optometry and the Joan Brossa School, as well as other volunteers from Etnia Barcelona and divers visual therapy specialists.
Whenever prescription glasses are needed, first we perform eye tests and then provide the individuals with the appropriate prescription glasses, completely free of charge.
To deliver the glasses, we contact opticians sited close to the centres so that they can deliver them to the children. These are what we call our support opticians. This means that they can then serve as a port of call for the families, who will then know that if anything happens to their child’s glasses, or any other bothersome issue occurs, they can go to see their support optician, whom the foundation will have furnished with all the tools necessary to ensure the child’s continued proper use of his/her eyewear.
Starting in 2018, we introduced other services to further enhance the project, as well as diverse protocols for the training of our volunteers.
1- Visual therapy: here we offer a range of visual therapies to those boys and girls whom, in our examinations at the Open Centre, have been diagnosed in need of treatment.
2- Access to ophthalmological specialists if necessary.
3- Our cooperation agreement with the Joan Brossa School, under which the students and teachers on the Eyewear Optical Technician Vocational Training Programme are responsible for mounting the frames with prescription lenses for all those found in need at our Open Centre sessions. Their involvement has impacted positively on the project and sped up delivery of eyewear to the children, who now receive their prescription glasses within two weeks.
In 2019 we started our FOLLOW-UP service, under which we track the progress of children previously examined by our project. In this way we guarantee access to new frames and/or lenses if necessary, and ensure the families take their children to the optician.
Out of 150 children, 43 have been provided with new glasses.
Through 2019 we visited fewer centres and saw fewer children and teenagers. We established a limit of 60-65 children per intervention to allow us more time with each child, thus enhancing the quality of the service we offer.
Because of this new approach, there are times when we find we have to visit a centre more than once.
Centres visited in 2019:
– Sant Martí
– Les Corts
– Sant Boi
Where we attended a total of 375 children.
We provided 146 children with prescription glasses.
Of the 375 children seen, 37.75%, with an average age of 8.5 years, had never previously had their eyes tested.
292 lenses were donated to our project by Essilor’s Vision For Life project.
Our FOLLOW-UP service furnished a total of 40 children and teenagers with new glasses.
The 9 children requiring visual therapy, whose cases were picked up at the different centres visited this year, were all provided with the appropriate treatment.
We referred 11 children to the IMO Centre for comprehensive ophthalmological examinations and the appropriate treatment, according to the diagnoses made.
All of which underscores just how badly the children we see on our monthly visits to the districts of Barcelona and surrounding towns of Catalonia need help with their eyesight. Oftentimes we find ourselves faced with teens who have never previously had their eyes tested, some of whom really do need corrective eyewear. If not for us, it is highly unlikely they would ever have gone to have their eyes tested.
SANTA YALLA SUPPORT OPTICIAN PROJECT
AIMED AT IMPROVING THE VISUAL HEALTH AND ACCESS TO OPTOMETRIC SERVICES FOR THE POPULATION OF ZIGUINCHOR AND OTHER TOWNS IN SENEGAL
Since 2016 we have participated in missions organised by Viladecans Town Hall, as part of the Universal Health project run by the NGO, Fallou, in Dar Salam, situated in the region of Tambacounda, with a view to covering all aspects related to visual health.
Over the past three years we have basically examined the eyes of the children and teachers at diverse primary and secondary schools in the region, as well as adults in the township of Dar Salam.
We always seek the sustainability of any project in which we are involved and strive to ensure that access to visual health and quality corrective eyewear at affordable prices does not depend on our individual missions. To such ends, and given that the FCCD (Catalan Cooperation and Development Fund) already had staff placed in the region of Ziguinchor, it was considered best to identify a possible counterpart in the region, with whom to develop and set up a support optician to serve the region of Ziguinchor.
At the end of 2018 we travelled to the region to meet with the Santa Yalla Association, a women’s platform that fights for many different aspects of women’s rights: awareness, support of associations to create profit generating activities, campaigns to create an awareness of women’s and children’s rights, etc..
We quickly came to an agreement with the association and got straight down to work with them.
The aim of the project was to set up a support optician (run by women as part of the process of empowerment) to allow the local population, regardless of whether or not it had resources, the option of accessing prescription glasses at affordable prices.
Achievements in 2019:
- Refurbishment of the premises for the optician’s
- Purchase of the store furniture and machinery required for the lens fitting workshop
- Store management training
- Training of the specialists and technicians at Ziguinchor hospitals
- Workshop training
Goals for 2020:
- Extra support training for both store and workshop
- Shipment of the material required to open the store with:
- 1,050 frames
- 2,800 ophthalmic lenses
- Establishment of supply chains
- Preparations for the official opening
The Support Optician Project, with the participation of the Women’s Platform Santa Yalla, is initially financed by Etnia Barcelona Foundation, Viladecans Town Hall, Terrassa Town Hall, Gavà Town Hall, Esplugues Town Hall and Sant Boi Town Hall, seeks to develop an operative, on-going and viable project.
Store opening: April 21, 2020
MORIA REFUGEE CAMP PROJECT, LESBOS
It is a great pleasure for us to be able to share the news of a new and exciting project with which we are now involved.
In mid-September we started to work together with Light Without Borders, an NGO which operates a permanent Ophthalmological Clinic at the Moria Refugee Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.
Luz Carmona, the founder of the organisation, holds a regular ophthalmological surgery for refugees at the camp.
Each week the Foundation receives the orders for the ophthalmic lenses and frames chosen by the individual.
Once the lenses are mounted, we send them to the Camp in one of the two shipments we make every month.
Through 2019 we provided 96 pairs of prescription glasses
We have a visit to Moria Camp scheduled for May 2020.
Aim: To build an optical workshop to mount frames and thus afford the project greater independence and speed up the delivery of prescription glasses.
Train local specialists.
Perform eye tests at the local schools.
EXPEDITIONS AND PROJECTS WHICH DO NOT REQUIRE TRAVEL TO THE AREAS IN QUESTION BUT IN WHICH WE HAVE ACTIVELY COOPERATED AND ARE ON-GOING
“OPEN YOUR EYES”
Throughout 2019, we also supported “Open Your Eyes”, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at improving the visual health of people with functional diversity, mental disorders or who come from underprivileged sections of the population. As every year, they visited Turkana, in Kenya, to test the eyesight of minors with poor sight and support the hospitals of the region by carrying out cataract surgery.
We support them by donating frames.
This year we donated 260 pairs of optical frames
DONATION OF FRAMES TO OTHER ORGANISATIONS.
Donation of frames to organisations running projects with which we feel an affinity, similar to those we conduct ourselves.
– 1,980 optical frames – Terrassa University Vision Centre, to support their social programme, aimed at caring for the eyesight of people living in or on the poverty line.
– 500 frames – IMO (Institute of Ocular Microsurgery) Donation made to the organisation’s Foundation, with which we also work on other projects under the same “Visual Health” umbrella.
– 11,335 frames – Ulls del mòn (Eyes of the world) – Sahara Refugee Camp
– 66 frames for children – Joan Brossa School, Barcelona, to support the school’s own social programme.
– 6,645 frames to Von´s Vision USA, an organisation dedicated to improving the visual health of children from low-income families.
– 109 frames to GESTA AFRICA, as part of their annual programme to test the eyes of children in Senegalese schools.
– In total, this year we have donated 20,635 optical frames.
– We have seen a total of 800 individuals (mostly children).
– We have delivered a total of 285 pairs of prescription glasses to children of school age.