Specsavers Bath has been instrumental in helping a 17-year-old Zambian boy return to school by providing him with the specs he needs.
Optometrist Elinor Jones first met Grema back in March when she led a trip to Zambia with the charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO).
The five-strong team went to provide much needed eyecare services to rural areas that needed the most help. The group was based around Mpika in the northern Muchinga province of Zambia, an area more than twice the size of Wales, which only has one eyecare professional. Over the course of nine days, they helped over 900 patients.
'The whole experience was life-changing,’ says Elinor. ‘It was challenging at times, pushing my boundaries and making me step out of my comfort zone, but it was worth it for the sense of achievement and fulfilment, knowing you've helped make a difference.
'The Zambian people, with their warm hearts and kind natures, made it all the more rewarding.
‘We saw patients who had struggled for a long time because of their inability to see clearly. Grema travelled five miles by foot to come see us. He had stopped going to school many years ago and his family thought he was blind.
'It turned out that he just needed very strong glasses; a prescription of greater than -10.00.'
Back at school
‘It was heart breaking to think that something as simple as an eye test and a pair of glasses, something so readily available to us in the UK and something we take for granted, could change his life.
'On returning to the UK, and thanks to the support of VAO, we were able to make up Grema’s glasses at the store and send them out to him. He is now back in school and hopes to become a police officer one day.’
About Vision Aid Overseas
Based in the UK, Vision Aid Overseas is an organisation that works in a number of African countries, including Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Sierra Leone. The charity, founded in 1985, provides eye tests and glasses to those who need them, and aims to help those living in poverty who have little or no access to eyecare.