A store director and dispensing optician from Specsavers in Frome and Warminster has returned from his fifth charity visit to Africa to support the work of an international eye care charity. 

Richard Goring was part of a six-strong group who visited a vision care centre based in a hospital in the Butajira region of Ethiopia as part of a trip organised in partnership with Vision Aid Overseas (VAO). The charity provides vital eye care to people in remote areas of Africa. 

Amazing work

The group screened more than 1,500 people in total, carried out more than 650 eye tests and dispensed 450 pairs of specs in the two weeks they there were. Some were also referred back to Butajira for conditions such as cataract operations or glasses manufacture if their prescription was more complex.  

‘We travelled to different locations every day which were usually around a one to two hour drive time away from our hospital base,’ said Richard. ‘On the first day we went to somewhere the outreach programme hadn’t been before and we were greeted by a crowd of more than 350 people wanting to be seen. It was a pretty incredible sight as we approached. 

‘It’s always hugely rewarding to be able to help people who don’t have easy access to eye care, something we take for granted in this country. While five of us were part of the outreach programme travelling to different locations, we also had a volunteer visiting people in their homes to help with low vision aids. We also took the opportunity to check their optical equipment, some of which needed fixing which we are now following up on.’ 

Richard, who was the deputy team leader for the trip, became involved with VAO through Specsavers in 2013, and along with Ethiopia, has travelled to Botswana and Zambia. 

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