A chance encounter in The Gambia has led to yet another exciting development at Jappineh - eye care clinics, the first of which saw 172 people checked in just five hours!
Sarah Johnson, an employee of major optical lens manufacturer Essilor UK, was on holiday in The Gambia when she overheard a bar-room conversation between our own Kira Dalton and a friend. Kira was explaining that she had received a donation of a box of spectacle frames but had no lenses for them. Sarah explained who she worked for and returned to the UK determined to help...
After a number of meetings with colleagues at Essilor, it was agreed that Sarah could collect unwanted single vision lenses from the business. In all she was able to gather together about 600 lenses to take back to The Gambia in May.
Kira then arranged for Sarah to deliver them in person, meeting with staff at The Sheikh Zayed Eye Care Clinic in Kannifing and then travelling with a group of 8 opticians and optical nurses to Jappineh.
The team then ran a full days clinic, seeing 172 patients in all, many of whom were able to receive glasses or even referrals for essential cataract surgery. With Jappineh being a 5 hour drive from the nearest optician, these were all people who would receive no eye care at all if it were not for this kind of clinic. In those circumstances failing eyesight can simply mean the loss of livelihood and potentially the loss of the only income for an extended family of a dozen or more.
Since Sarah returned from The Gambia she has received donations of over 500 frames, and is continuing to collect frames and lenses. Essilor have also arranged to run a charity auction next year with the aim of raising enough money to build an optical clinic in Jappineh, a wonderful prospect.
Our huge thanks go to to Sarah, to Essilor and to everyone who has supported their efforts on this wonderful project.
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The news diary is written by a number of people close to the work of the African Oyster Trust, including founder James Holden, his co-directors, trustees and volunteers.