We are so delighted that finally, this week, we were able to travel to Senegal to visit the new Optique Solidaire we opened in Santa Yalla last year. A journey we had spent months preparing for and which, despite all the difficulties that Covid had placed in our way, we took up anew with great enthusiasm and joy!
It all started back in 2016 when we began visiting Senegal to work on development projects in the region of Tambacounda, adding our own grain of sand in the area of visual health. Ensuring the sustainability and durability of the initiatives taken by our Foundation has always been our focus, our top priority. Our main goal in Africa has always been to ensure that access to visual health and quality glasses at affordable prices does not depend on the efforts of foreign NGOs but forms part of a project developed and led by local communities.
In 2018, after two years of trips and expeditions, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with the Santa Yalla Association. It is an association of women that fights for women’s rights on several different fronts: raising awareness, supporting organisations that create profit-making activities, disseminating material on the rights of women and children, etc.
Finally, in 2020, in the area of Zinguichor, we opened the Optique Solidaire managed and run by women from the local community. It offers access to prescription glasses at prices affordable to all the local population, whatever their circumstances. All the profit made by the Optician is invested in other local community projects that support the empowerment and independence of Senagalese women.
Over the last three years we have refurbished the building that today houses the Optician, acquired the machinery and store furniture required for it to be completely operational and provided all the stocks needed, including 1,050 frames and 2,800 ophthalmological lenses. Not only that, but we have also developed an exhaustive training programme for the women that run the Optician, the workshop technicians and ophthalmological specialists and technicians of the local hospitals (Zinguichor).
The purpose of the current weeklong trip is to continue with the administrative and management training programmes for the women who run the store and extend the ophthalmological, optometric and workshop training of the specialists and technicians that work on the project. On this trip we are accompanied by Carol (Retail Manager of Etnia Barcelona), Virginia (Etnia Barcelona optometrist and workshop technician) and, of course, Aitana (founder, director and guiding spirit of the Foundation).
During these days we will be sharing you through our social media channels all the activities carried out by our team in Senegal.