During our PPST (Post-Pre Service Training) in August, a 2nd year volunteer talked about screening the kids in his village for vision problems and then partnering with the Department of Education to provide a free eye exam and eyeglasses for the children with potential problems. The closest environment volunteer to me, Eric, and I decided it would be a great first project to do with our communities.
Between the nurses at the local clinics, the health volunteer in the next town over (Molly), Eric, and I, we prescreened over 1,600 kids at the elementary and middle schools in our area. It was a great way to meet the administrators and teachers in the school, and hopefully laid some groundwork for future projects.
Eric and I (with the help of Darija speaking PCVs) spoke with representatives from the Department of Education and the Department of Health in Errachidia, who were both enthusiastic about our project idea. We were transferred over to the clinic in the large town closest to us, arranged a date for an eye doctor to come visit our sites, and that was that. It was surprisingly easy to arrange the eye doctor visit; he came to our area for three days (one day in each town with a staffed clinic) in late November.
As for the glasses themselves, Eric had spoken with Lions in Sight and received a donation of glasses prior to the eye doctor visit – two children matched prescriptions they had sent, and at least one adult received a pair of those glasses. We ended up with 65 prescriptions in total, and found a different route to provide free eyeglasses for most of the kids – we received a very nice discount for 63 glasses from an association based out of Midelt.
An added bonus to this project was that the doctor was also checking for kids and adults that may need eye surgery – I don’t have the numbers, but I know at least one child with severe vision problems and several adults with glaucoma went to a hospital for free eye surgery this past Thursday.
There are still a few glasses to be handed out, and certainly more adults in the area who have vision issues, but we set out to help the vision of the schoolchildren in our qaidat (sort of like a county). I feel we achieved our goal.