Can you remember what it was like to be an Optometry student? If you studied in North America or Australia, you would have had access to all the best resources. Sadly, that is not the case for many students at emerging Schools of Optometry in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Accessing equipment and consumables is always a challenge, and the internet is slow and unreliable.
Which means that being able to visit the School Library is very important. Last year, however, the library at the School of Optometry in Malawi, a developing country in south-east Africa, burned down and that was the end of their small collection of Optometry text books. This meant students had to photocopy and share lecture notes and other reading materials.
Help is on its way, however. Dr. Suraj Upadhyaya, O.D. (2012), PhD Student in Vision Science/Physiological Optics and Research Assistant at the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO), with the help of the Physiological Optics Graduate Student Association (POGSA) recently organised a book drive within the UHCO and they have come up with an amazing 219 books that have been packed in 19 boxes which will be shipped to Malawi this week, courtesy of Essilor.
Dr. Upadhyaya knows how important the books will be for the students enrolled in both the degree and diploma programs, as he was a lecturer at the Malawi College of Health Sciences for 2 years.
Allergan Foundation has also provided funding for the purchase of much needed projectors and books for both the School of Optometry and the Malawi College of Health Sciences, which runs the diploma program.
There are currently 111 students studying in these courses. 60 have graduated and are the majority are now providing services to people in towns and communities throughout Malawi. A select number have been invited to undertake further study with a view to becoming local faculty.