A Clear Vision for the Future
This month the help2kids Health Project undertook a massive project to secure eye examinations for the entire help2kids Tanzanian programs. Our Health team, worked extremely hard to secure a spot for help2kids at this pop up clinic in Dar es Salaam, hosted by the One Sight organization. All of our children and staff who attended received expert care and were given prescriptions as needed, completely free of charge!
One Sight is an American organization that operates globally with the goal of bringing quality eye care to disenfranchised and marginalized people. They have been operating for over 25 years and in that time they have helped over 9 million people in 41 countries.* Every year they operate over 50 pop up clinics around the world focusing on reaching citizens with low economic means or people who have limited access to proper eye care. They aim to create long term sustainable clinics by partnering with preexisting local institutions that will continue to operate in the community even after they leave. Their team consists entirely of volunteers who are passionate about the work they are doing and use only the newest technologies to ensure the highest quality care. The best part is that all of this was done completely free of charge.
When the Health Project reached out to One Sight, they managed to secure checkups for the entire help2kids organization in Tanzania. Although it was difficult, the Health team was able to organise 4 different projects to come to the clinic and receive treatment. The Children’s Home, Bajeviro Primary School, Education Sponsorship Program and Watoto Watu Tanzania Orphanage all brought kids and students to the clinic. This meant that we were able to provide care for approximately 300 kids and over a dozen help2kids staff members. They were given thorough eye examinations and then prescription glasses if needed. Everyone received a free pair of sunglasses as well. The Health team explained that, “The event played a major role in helping us integrate comprehensive vision care into our existing health care program.” and that, “having undiagnosed vision problems could, later on, become significant enough to impair academic performance”.
Mama Leah, the Children’s Home Manager was one of the many staff members who received an examination and new glasses. She stated that the “doctors were nice and that they gave her a thorough exam.” She believes that clinics like these are important because it “helps to identify if there is something wrong”. Such is the example for Nuru, one of the Children’s Home family members. Nuru suffers from poor eye sight, which is linked to her albinism genetics. During Standard 7, Nuru was required by the Primary School to attend Boarding School. Based on testing dates and class schedules, Nuru was not in contact with the help2kids staff members frequently enough to spot her increasing eye problems. During her examination with One Sight, new glasses with a stronger prescription were prescribed and Nuru now says that she “likes her glasses because now she does not get headaches from reading”, giving her a chance to increase her overall educational productivity.
Some of our kids at the Children’s Home have recent checkups in the past, but for many of the kids at our Bajeviro Primary School and our other partners, this was their first chance to see an eye doctor specialist. For some, this clinic came just in the nick of time. Ester a 6 year old student at Bajeviro was diagnosed at the clinic with a cataract in one eye. Although she could not receive the surgery to remove it the day of, help2kids and Ester were lucky to be able to identify this issue before it became a larger problem in Ester’s future. Ester is currently scheduled to see a specialist and set a date for her surgery. Similarly, Babu our gatekeeper at the Children’s Home, was also found to have cataracts, he will also be scheduled for a free of charge surgery based on One Sights assistance. help2kids is thankful that we were able to identify these problems for both staff and students and can now provide them with the proper care they need for educational and career success!
Often times clinics like these will appear provide a service and then disappear again with no long term strategy for how to continue their work. One Sight has 25 years of experience developing and initiating lasting partnerships within the local community to ensure that they can continue to assist people for years to come. This clinic was a first step towards sustained eye care in our area. They are working with existing healthcare services to set up a permanent location right here in Mbezi Beach! They should be up and running within the next 6 months. This will enable us to continue to follow up on our children’s health with no cost to help2kids.
The importance of this clinic can not be understated. Outside of the obvious benefit of eye health there are a slew of tertiary benefits. First is the academic benefit to our students. Children who have healthy eye care are more attentive and successful in school. They exhibit longer attention spans, faster reading speeds and greater reading comprehension*. Conversely children without proper eye care suffer from the opposite, shorter attention spans, slower reading speeds and lower comprehension in addition to headaches and blurred vision. It is also a long term investment in their future. Adults in the workplace who take care of their eyes are more productive and therefore earn up to 20% more annually than those who don’t*. There is also the general increase in the quality of life that comes from being able to see. Lastly there is the massive financial benefit of this clinic. Working with organizations such as One Sight, enables help2kids to take donations and funds that would otherwise be spent on these eye examinations, prescriptions, and surgeries, and focus on other similarly needed causes. With the examinations finished, help2kids is able to focus our attention and resources to other, much needed endeavors.
This clinic did a great deal to assist help2kids in providing critical care to a massive number of children. We look forward to future collaborations with One Sight and the continued health of our kids.