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PROJECT REPORT 2021

“ET MIREM ALS ULLS” PROJECT

Work continued with our “Et mirem als ulls” project, first started in May 2016.

Once again, our local “Et mirem als ulls” 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 help 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.

“Et mirem als ulls” has operated since May 2016, through the Catalonian Network of Open Centres that works with children who come to them through the Catalonian Social Services.

During term time, the centres open to minors at the end of the school day, with teams of support optometrists and student volunteers from the Terrassa Faculty of Optical and Optometric Studies, 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 for them to deliver the glasses to the children. We call them 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 troublesome issue were to occur, 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, when examined at the Open Centres, have been found to need treatment.
  • Access to ophthalmological specialists if necessary.
  • Under our cooperation agreement with the Joan Brossa School, 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 be in need. 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 pertinent specialist.

In 2021 we followed-up on 340 children, 177 of whom needed new glasses. Likewise, in 2021, we visited more centres than in prior year, since  during the Covid-19 pandemic we were only able to see a few people at a time.

Centres visited in 2021 

  • CENTRE RIALLES-SANTA COLOMA
  • FUNDACIO GERMINA RAVAL
  • CASAL D’INFANTS BADALONA
  • CASAL D’INFANTS SANTA_COLOMA
  • ASSOCIACIO GABELLA
  • CASAL D’INFANTS SANTA_COLOMA
  • CASAL D’INFANTS BADALONA

 

✔ People seen: Total:  340 children.

✔ Of the 340 children seen, 42.95% had never had their eyes tested before. The average age was 13.5 years.

✔ Essilor Vision for Life donated 880 lenses

✔ Our FOLLOW-UP service attended 100 children and teenagers, who all received new glasses.

✔ Specialised visual therapy was given to the 18 children found to need it when visiting the different centres.

✔ We referred 8 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 come across teenagers who have never before had their eyes tested and are found to be in need of prescription glasses. If it were not for our project, the likelihood is they would never have been to see an optician.

Participants:

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 Optical and Optometric Studies, 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 of 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, 2020 and 2021.

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

In Senegal there are some 200,000 people who are blind and over 400,000 people who present serious forms of visual impairment, which could potentially lead to blindness if not properly treated. The most significant factors behind this situation are poverty and a want of material resources. In all, this means people are unable to access health services in general, and more particularly, visual health services.

In terms of visual health, the main problems are the lack of qualified people to carry out refraction tests (as such, optometrists do not exist in the country and so the tests are carried out by ophthalmologists and/or ophthalmological technicians) and the high cost of optical correction, which place such measures beyond the reach of the majority of the population.

The project has put in place:

  1. A community optician run by the URSY Platform (Santa Yalla Regional Union), aimed at providing the local population, whatever their level of income, with quality eyewear at an affordable price.
  2. Expeditions have been carried out to perform screening tests:

2.1. To the NGO, Handicap International, where teachers participated in running refraction tests.

2.2. And, open to one and all, screening tests carried out at the community optician.

  1. In the first stage of the project we worked to improve the level of training of optometric technicians, to ensure their ability to detect visual health problems at the hospitals of the Ziguinchor region.
  2. We trained the women who were going to run the community optician to be able to assemble glasses and read optometric prescriptions.
  3. Parallel to the above, we organised meetings with different organisations working in Senegal, to discuss whether or not optometric training should be given as a university level qualification.

To such ends, a cooperation agreement was signed by the Santa Yalla Regional Union and the Etnia Barcelona Foundation. The community optician was set up at the HQ of the Santa Yalla Regional Union.

At the beginning of 2021, the optician opened its doors with the material sent throughout the course of 2020. The opening had been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The material already sent was added to with new shipments of material made in 2021:

  • 401 frames
  • 73 sunglasses

 

In May 2021, a delegation comprising a workshop technician, the Manager of the Barcelona Store and a photographer went out to Ziguinchor to give training to the staff of the Santa Yalla Community Optician, and also take material for the workshop and store.

Much of the time was devoted to training the team of women working in the optician in workshop techniques and in how to assemble the glasses, as well as organising the inventory and workshop. At the time, the store had not been open long and there was a series of doubts which we did our best to clarify.

Another training session was held in July ’21, organised with the Essilor Dakar Technician, Moise Nana, which focussed 100% on the assembly of glasses and on the use of the workshop machinery.

We also continued to train the 4 woman team that runs the store and workshop in the processes required for:

Opening and closing the store

  • Taking inventory
  • Organising the daily takings
  • Product/Stock control
  • Store maintenance
  • Stock forecasts and ordering

. The 4 workshop staff were trained to:

  • Assemble the glasses.
  • Bevel the lenses.
  • Read a prescription.
  • Order and forecast stocking needs.
  • Perform workshop maintenance tasks.
  • Maintain the machinery.

At least 3 ophthalmological professionals from the hospitals of the region were trained in:

  • Optometry
  • The use of new optometric instruments

We organised awareness campaigns and diverse communications on visual health, as well as publishing a selection of graphic material.

     

Results:

Our awareness and communication campaigns always resulted in an increase in the sale of glasses.

  • The optometry professionals in Ziguinchor have always participated in the different campaigns.
  • We ran a highly positive 3 day campaign, resulting in the sale of up to 250 frames, at the official opening of the optician in November 2021.
  • We publicised the Santa Yalla Community Optician.
  • We signed an agreement with Handicap International (https://handicap-international.ch/fr/pays/senegal) to offer visual care for the boys and girls identified by the NGO.
  • Cooperation with another social organisation from Kolda, offering optometric services.
  • Steady flow of people through the store.

The Optician’s was officially opened on November 17. Taking advantage of this very special event, we organised training sessions for the whole team of the Santa Yalla Regional Union, particularly emphasising marketing, sales and store management.

Putting into practice all that was taught over the three days of the initiative, we performed eye tests and, in honour of the official opening, offered frames with a 50% discount at Santa Yalla. Over the three days we sold a total of 250 pairs of glasses, allowing the people trained ample practice in the skills taught, as well as allowing them to hone those not specifically covered.

   

The sales achieved in 2021 were as follows:

  • 495 pairs of glasses

In all, in 2021, we shipped out 401 frames and 73 pairs of sunglasses.

The Community Optician with the participation of the Santa Yalla Women’s Platform is initially financed by the Étnia Barcelona Foundation, Viladecans Town Hall, Terrassa Town Hall, Gavà Town Hall, Esplugues Town Hall and Sant Boi Town Hall, to guarantee the viability and full operation of the project.

The funding received for the financing of the project, through the Town Halls and the Catalan Development Cooperation Fund was as follows:

Viladecans Town Hall € 6,000
Gavà Town Hall € 4,545.45

 

MORIA REFUGEE CAMP PROJECT, LESBOS

In 2020, the Lesbos Project was significantly affected by a fire which completely destroyed the premises in which we attended 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.

  • In 2021 we sent out 251 pairs of prescribed prescription glasses.
  • In 2021 we sent out 502 ophthalmological lenses
  • In 2021 we sent out frames for the new collection.
  • In 2021 we sent out 60 pairs of sunglasses

   

OPTICIANS WITH YOU

We started up our new project: OPTICIANS WITH YOU. This is a new support project, aimed at bringing relief to those who have found their financial capacity reduced by the Covid-19 crisis.

Since we started to operate in 2006, we have provided support to a total of 50,000 families, with a special emphasis on the young given the close relationship there is between visual problems and school failure and difficulty with social integration.

The idea of the project is for the optician to identify individuals or families in the local community suffering financial difficulties and who need some kind of attention to their eyesight.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are many families who find themselves temporarily in difficulty.

Thus, we saw the need for a project like Opticians With You. The project seeks to reach out to all the families which, for one reason or another, are not covered by the social services and are found to be in difficulty.

Together, Etnia Barcelona Foundation and the optician will provide people in difficulty with the prescription glasses they need free of charge.

Etnia Barcelona Foundation will furnish the optician with a specially prepared pack containing nine frames, nine cases, nine lens cloths, 1 sticker and 1 poster so that they can provide those in need with prescription glasses,  taking on board their part of the cost of the service and of the lenses prescribed.

THROUGH THE COURSE OF 2021, SOME 145 OPTICIANS HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE PROGRAMME AND RECEIVED THE PACKS

DONATION OF FRAMES TO OTHER ORGANISATIONS.

Donation of frames to other organisations involved in projects similar to those of the Foundation:

  • Donation of 500 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 3,800 frames to AUGENOPTIK PROJEKT, CAMEROON via the Catalonian NGO Òptics x mÓn, with which we also collaborate on other visual health-related projects under the same “Visual Health” umbrella.
  • Donation of 219 pairs of sunglasses to AUGENOPTIK PROJEKT, CAMEROON via the Catalonian NGO Òptics x mÓn, with which we also collaborate on other visual health-related projects under the same “Visual Health” umbrella.
  • Donation of 2,836 frames to Von´s Vision USA, an organisation dedicated to improving the visual health of children from low-income families.

SUMMARY of 2021:

  • In all, this year we have donated a total of 8,527 prescription frames and pairs of sunglasses.
  • We have directly tended to the needs of 400 people (mostly children).

OPEN ARMS AND ETNIA BARCELONA FOUNDATION

Etnia Barcelona’s humanitarian project joins forces with the non-governmental organisation in a unique collaborative venture to give voice to, and tell the story of, the generous, courageous work that Open Arms is engaged in and the lives it is saving.

An alliance that came about naturally, between two projects that not only share the same city, but also the same values, purpose and, above all, the same goal: to make the world a better place.

A public-spirited collection that comprises a single model of glasses, based on an icon of the Barcelona brand, its mythical Avinyó model.
The entire profit made from the sale of the glasses goes directly to Open Arms.
Migration is a human right and as such should be protected, as should all the organisations that strive to help people seeking a better life for themselves and their loved ones.