“LOOKING INTO YOUR EYES” PROJECT
Work continued with our “Looking into Your Eyes” project, first started in May 2016.
Once again, our local “Looking into Your Eyes” programme enabled us to offer optical care to boys and girls living in poverty, to guarantee their visual health and help prevent them from failing at school, as well as helping improve their quality of life. Our aim is to provide integrated visual health services, to which end we have joined forces with other organisations to enable us to successfully tackle different diseases, offer visual therapy or, if necessary, surgery, all completely free of charge.
“Looking into Your Eyes ” has operated since May 2016, through the Catalonian Network of Open Centres that works with children who have come to them through the Catalonian 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 Opticians and Optometrists, as well as volunteer students from the Joan Brossa School of Optical Technicians and other volunteers from Etnia Barcelona and divers visual therapy specialists.
Whenever prescription glasses are needed, we first 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 they will then serve as a port of call for the families who, assured 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 required 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.
✔ 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 found to need treatment.
✔ Access to ophthalmological specialists if necessary.
✔ Our cooperation agreement with the Joan Brossa School, under which the students and teachers of the Eyewear Optical Technician Vocational Training Programme are responsible for mounting the frames with prescription lenses for all the children found to need them 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, to help with the consolidation of the project, we started our FOLLOW-UP service, with 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, as long as the families first take their children to visit the specialist.
In 2020 we followed-up on 223 children, 17 of whom needed new glasses. Likewise, in 2020, we visited fewer centres, mostly because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to maintain social distancing.
Centres visited in 2020
- Mataró Salesians
- Centres Oberts Gava
- Fundació Germina- Santa Coloma
- Fundació Rialles – Santa Coloma
People seen: Total: 231 children. Of the 231 children seen, 38.32% had never had their eyes tested before. The average age was 10.5 years.
Glasses given: 100 pairs of prescription glasses.
We referred 13 children to the IMO centre to be seen by ophthalmologists and provided with the appropriate care once diagnosed.
In short, this shows just how necessary the monthly sessions we hold in the different districts of Barcelona and towns of Catalonia are for the children seen. In many cases we have come across teenagers who have never before had their eyes tested and have needed prescription glasses. If it were not for our project, the likelihood is they would never have been to see an optician.
For the project we joined forces with other great institutions with extensive experience in the optical sector:
– Terrassa University Vision Centre: the University Clinic of the Terrassa Faculty of Opticians and Optometrists, with its mission to stand as a reference centre for quality visual care, pursuing excellence in all areas: teaching and research. Amongst its goals, it seeks to work with society to strengthen the perception of the social function of the University.
– Essilor’s Vision for Life Project: a philanthropic programme which seeks to accelerate initiatives aimed at reducing levels of poor eyesight through awareness and enablement campaigns, and by creating the basic infrastructure required to care for people’s eyesight. It is run by Essilor as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility policy. The stated mission of Essilor is “Improving lives by improving sight”.
– Joan Brossa School Optical Vocational Training Programme: the school provides volunteers for our “Looking into Your Eyes” project: the students and teachers at the school’s vocational training programme were responsible for setting up the equipment and checking the eyesight of the children for our campaigns in 2018,2019 and 2020.
The work is carried out under the Catalan Association of Optometry and Visual Therapy Learning Service Methodology, which seeks to improve the visual health of underprivileged minors by opening up the way for them to access different visual treatments, offered by the professional members of the Association, and ensuring such access at reduced cost to the Foundation, given that it is the Foundation that finances therapy for the children on the programme.
And, of course, due credit must be given to all the support optometrists and opticians who join us on each of our campaigns
SANTA YALLA COMMUNITY OPTICIAN PROJECT
AIMED AT IMPROVING ACCESS TO VISUAL HEALTH AND 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 the aim of further extending our visual health project.
Over the past four years (2016-2020) we have basically examined the eyesight of pupils at diverse primary and secondary schools in the region, as well as testing the adults and teachers who live in the Dar Salam settlement.
We always seek the sustainability of any project in which we engage and strive to ensure that visual health and access to quality corrective eyewear at affordable prices does not depend on our individual missions. To such ends, and given that the Catalan European Cooperation 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 community 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 signed an agreement with them and set to work directly.
The idea was to set up a community optician to offer the local population, regardless of whether or not it had resources, the possibility of accessing prescription glasses at an affordable price.
Through 2019, we refurbished the premises that were to house the community optician, bought the furnishings and equipment required for both the store and workshop, carried out training programmes for the store and workshop staff, as well as for the specialists and technicians of the Ziguinchor Hospitals.
In 2020 we redoubled our training efforts for the store and workshop staff and dispatched the material required to open the store:
- 1,050 frames
- 2,800 ophthalmic lenses.
The Community Optician project, with the participation of the Santa Yalla Women’s Platform, is funded with an initial finance scheme endowed by the Etnia Barcelona Foundation, Viladecans Town Hall, Terrassa Town Hall, Gavà Town Hall, Esplugues Town Hall and Sant Boi Town Hall, to guarantee the viability and operation of the project. The store was scheduled to open on April 21, 2020, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic the opening ceremony had to be cancelled.
Nonetheless, we continued working and further developing the training of the local team of women who were to run the store and were finally able to open it to the public on November 18, 2021.
At the end of 2020 we had to send out more ophthalmic lenses and frames, as well as sunglasses.
✔ 250 frames (200 prescription and 50 sunglasses)
✔ 1,154 ophthalmic lenses
In all, in 2020, we sent out 1,300 frames and 3,954 lenses.
The donations received to finance the project, and which reached us through the different town halls and the Catalonian Development Cooperation Fund were as follows:
MORIA REFUGEE CAMP PROJECT, LESBOS
In 2020, the Lesbos Project was significantly affected by a fire which completely destroyed the premises in which we saw the refugees and provided them with the appropriate eyewear. As a consequence, the amount of material shipped there was reduced, and we had to set about refurbishing a new space from which to continue tending to the optometric needs of the refugees at the Moria Camp.
Throughout 2020 we sent out 39 pairs of prescription glasses and 661 pairs of sunglasses.
We had scheduled a visit to Moria Camp for May 2020 but had to cancel it because of Covid-19. Consequently, the goals established in 2019 remain pending and we seek to achieve them for the close of 2021, given that we have been able to open a new centre to care for the needs of the refugees and have had a significant volume of work. Our aim is to set up an assembly shop there, to make the centre more independent and so reduce delivery time. We also seek to train local specialists and carry out eye tests at the local schools.
DONATION OF FRAMES TO OTHER ORGANISATIONS.
Donation of frames to other organisations involved in projects similar to those of the Foundation:
- Donation of 280 prescription frames to Terrassa University Vision Centre, to support their social programme which attends to the visual health of individuals living in or on the poverty line.
- Donation of 561 frames to 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.
- Donation of 2,963 frames to Von´s Vision USA, an organisation dedicated to improving the visual health of children from low-income families.
- Donation of 50 frames to Africa Ndoto, to support the health centre it runs in Tanzania.
- Donation of 30 pairs of sunglasses to Covid-19 patients at the Barcelona Hospital del Mar to enable them to take the airs and stroll along the seafront.
- In all, this year we have donated a total of 5,085 prescription frames and pairs of sunglasses.
- We have directly tended to the needs of 400 people (mostly children).