The store director at Specsavers in Lutterworth has returned from his fourth charity visit to the Ashanti Development in Ghana, which undertook more than 1,400 tests and dispensed nearly 3,500 pairs of donated specs, including to the King of Nsuta.

A team effort

Store director Abhijit Roy, along with eight other members of Specsavers teams across the midlands, held optical clinics for locals over six days, performing an average of 250 tests per day. They dispensed the unwanted specs donated in stores by customers throughout the year.

‘We completed 1406 tests in total, working long hours to make sure we got through as many people as possible,’ said Abhijit. ‘The team did a fantastic job in making sure every patient left happy.'

A life-changing case

‘One memorable moment was when I tested a young boy who had an accommodative convergent squint,' said Abhijit. 'This meant that as he focused his eyes, they converged inwards.

‘His prescription was a challenge – under any circumstances – but the dispensing team managed to find an exact match for him by taking a lens from another frame and inserting this to replace the lens of the left eye. As soon as he put on his new specs, his eyes straightened. It was wonderful to be able to give him what was a life-changing improvement.’

Overcoming difficulties

The team overcame difficulties like poor light as the electricity continuously cut out and often had to test by torchlight. This made it particularly difficult for the dispensing team, which had to identify matching prescriptions from the donated specs.

The impact of quality eyecare

Locals from the development in the Gyetiase area have little access to eyecare, and this is one of the poorest regions in Ghana. Many of the patients to the clinic had walked for several days to get to the clinic, and by 3am each morning there was a queue of people waiting for treatment.

‘In an area where eye health can have a serious impact on quality of life and even life expectancy, we understood the importance of helping those that had made a long journey from the surrounding rural areas,’ continued Abhijit.

‘Several of our patients fainted while waiting for their appointments, so we also ensured that we had enough food and water to help sustain those at the clinic through often long waits. One of our patients arrived at 3am and waited patiently until 7pm for her appointment, for example.’

Local fundraising efforts

During their visit, the Specsavers team were invited to participate in a traditional ‘Durbah’, or welcome reception, with the chief of the village which included traditional Ghanaian dancing. They also visited the kindergarten in the development that they had fundraised to help build:

‘It was wonderful to see it in the flesh, said Abhijit. ‘It took some very serious fundraising and a lot of toil and sweat to raise that sum of money, but seeing the children being taught by their teacher was a precious moment that made it all worthwhile.

‘We have returned with a new fundraising goal in mind – to build a clinic combined with a community center as a place to weigh babies and for nurses to carry out their important monitoring functions.

‘This would further our aims of improving the health and wellbeing of the local community and over the next year we will be supporting this wonderful development which has such a strong connection with Specsavers.’

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