Dispensing optician Beverley Jukes travelled to the Ashanti Development in Ghana as part of a Specsavers team from the midlands stores to hold optical clinics for the locals.
Completing more than 1,400 tests and dispensing nearly 3,500 pairs of donated specs, the team held clinics over six days providing to some, what were life-changing improvements to their vision. Here, Beverley gives her account of the eight day trip.
Preparing for the trip
‘It was with excitement and some trepidation that I finally boarded the plane to Ghana. It had taken three years, including a year of fundraising and a postponement due to the Ebola crisis, to get to this point. I was on my way to the Ashanti Development as a part of a team of nine Specsavers opticians and dispensing opticians from stores across the midlands area.'
Getting stuck in
‘After an overnight stay in Accra we travelled on to the clinic in Ashanti by small plane and bus. Work commenced as soon as we arrived. The first things to be done were sorting all the donated specs we had brought with us into prescription types ready for our first patients the next day.
‘Every day the queue outside the clinic consisted of several hundred people, either needing prescription specs or some form of eye protection. The team worked from 8am until well into the evening. After work we would all eat together and unwind before trying to get some sleep ready to begin again the next morning.'
Hard work pays off
‘Conditions in the clinic were basic, with frequent power shortages. We were motivated by some great music, courtesy of Nigel Davidson (director of the Sutton in Ashfield store), the smiles of the Ghanaian people, the enthusiasm of Ab Roy (director of the Hinckley and Lutterworth stores) – but most of all by each other. Our team grew over the week as we were helped by some wonderful young Ghanaians who were undertaking their national service.
‘After testing 1,406 people and dispensing spectacles to most them, we had a few days off to enjoy Ghana. We were lucky enough to be taken on a trip to climb a holy mountain. We also visited a local village that Ab has links with and, to finish off, we had a tour of the city of Accra.
‘I have never worked so hard, slept so badly and sometimes felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people to help – but I would happily do it all over again.’