Author: Corinne Waldon
At her primary school in Cienega de Zimatlan, Mexico, Yamilet Castellanos struggled to see her books and the whiteboard at the front of the class. She describes what she went through in school as follows:
“I was constantly asking the teacher to give me a seat in the front lines – because when she asked me to sit in the rear lines I couldn’t see the board.”
Her father Remundo was badly injured in an accident and has been unable to work. The family’s meager income comes from the tortillas Yamilet’s mother, Maria, makes and sells in the community.
Both her parents suspected Yami, as her parents call her, had an eye problem but were unable to access vision care services due to their extremely limited resources.
Maria commented, “When she would write the homework, to do, it was incorrect.”
Yami also knew there was a problem.
However, one day her life changed because a proper eye exam was performed, and the right prescription recorded. A new – free pair of glasses, especially made for children in Mexico – was chosen.
Yami can see, learn, and play like other children in this rural community. This result was made possible through a partnership between the Ver Bien Foundation, an organization in Mexico committed to providing optometric care and high quality eyeglasses to all children in public schools in Mexico, and Optometry Giving Sight to provide vision services in Yami’s village. We can’t do what we do without the entire OGS community. Yami’s story is made possible by that community – by YOU!
For her parents, there is relief and gratitude, as noted by Remundo. “I’m very thankful for all the help and all the countries that are helping to provide visual help to the children of Mexico.”
As we conclude the Spring Campaign and move into the warm weather of the summer months, please remember Yami, Kiet whom you met earlier this year, and the graduates of the optometry school in Malawi, all stories authored by people like YOU. We must continue to create magic together and provide the gift of sight and hope, on a long-term, sustainable basis, so no one in need of vision care ever goes without. Please join us today by making a closing gift to our Spring Campaign using the donate button at the top of the page or by clicking here.
Thank you to all of our generous and committed donors for the ongoing impact you make!
Donations to Optometry Giving Sight make an impact by giving sight to people in need through the projects we fund. One of our funding priorities is to train local people as optometrists in the communities in which they live, all over the world. One of the most successful optometry schools we fund is in Mzuzu, Malawi.
Dr. Allan Jones, an optometrist and one of our “boots on the ground” through our funding of Canadian Vision Care, offered the following testimonial about the work at the school and some of its students:
“I was setting up vision screenings with the optometry school in Mzuzu, Malawi. They were interesting as we had two buses of students at these clinics. We have another fifteen children screenings planned. I brought five suitcases of new ophthalmoscopes, retinoscopes, Volk lenses and a portable autorefractor for the school, along with numerous small items like occluders, near point cards and arclights for all the students.
I have spent a fair bit of time getting equipment functional and teaching repairs. The school is doing great, and OGS can be proud of this school. By February, there will be over 100 graduated optometrists! Quite the accomplishment – thanks to OGS!! With the increased class size, this number will increase quickly.
I am now in the southern part to do some clinics with graduates. Hopefully, another 600 children will receive first eye exams. There are three eye hospitals I am visiting with hopes of placing optometrists there.”
As Dr. Jones attests, the students in Mzuzu are making a tangible difference in their communities. You can see their pride as they graduate and receive their OGS white coats! Their dreams of becoming optometrists have come true. Their dreams of helping their fellow citizens are coming true. YOU have helped make those dreams come true.
Donations from people like you make possible the training of future optometrists around the world. The school in Mzuzu, Malawi is just one example of the training your dollars help fund. Each graduate will go on to help hundreds of people each year. Together, we can continue to grow optometry wherever it is needed.
Optometry Giving Sight est fière de s’associer à des organisations mondiales dans le but de financer des projets de prévention de la cécité et des déficiences visuelles. La fondation Seva est l’une de ces organisations. Dans le cadre de son projet intitulé Eyeglasses in Nepal Project, la fondation Seva a comme objectif d’accroître l’offre de services de correction des erreurs de réfraction ainsi que l’accès aux services offerts par des personnes qualifiées qui fournissent des lunettes de bonne qualité.
Alisha fait partie des personnes qui bénéficient de ce projet. Alisha est âgée de 10 ans, elle est en 4e année et elle vit avec sa mère et sa sœur cadette. Sa famille, qui est installée à Jorsalle, connaît des années difficiles : divorce, problèmes de santé et manque de travail.
Il y a environ un an, Alisha a commencé à éprouver des problèmes de vision. En raison des difficultés financières de sa famille, Alisha n’en a pas parlé. Sa vision faiblissante a entraîné la chute de ses résultats scolaires. Sa mère et son grand-père se sont aperçus de ses problèmes, mais comme ils n’avaient pas d’argent pour le transport en autobus vers l’hôpital, ils étaient incapables de faire traiter l’hypermétropie d’Alisha.
Lorsqu’une équipe du programme de sensibilisation auprès des jeunes de Seva a procédé à un dépistage en milieu scolaire à l’école d’Alisha, cette dernière a pu passer un examen de la vue. L’équipe a tout de suite vu qu’Alisha avait grandement besoin de recevoir des soins de la vue et des lunettes appropriés et a pris les dispositions nécessaires pour qu’Alisha soit transportée à l’hôpital et obtienne le traitement médical dont elle avait besoin. Alisha peut maintenant lire et elle a de bons résultats scolaires.
Optometry Giving Sight is proud to partner with organizations on a global level to provide funding for projects needed to reduce preventable blindness and impaired vision. One such organization is the Seva Foundation. Their Eyeglasses in Nepal Project seeks to address the need for increased refractive error services and to increase access to service points supplied with good quality eyeglasses which are staffed by qualified individuals.
Alisha is one recipient of this project. She is a 10-year old girl in 4th grade who lives with her mother and little sister. Her family has a difficult life in Jorsalle due to divorce, health problems and unemployment.
Alisha began to notice eye-related problems over a year ago but said nothing due to the financial constraints of her family. Her performance in school decreased dramatically due to her vision impairment. Her mother and grandfather began to notice but, due to financial hardship, including lack of bus fare to get to the hospital, her hypermetropia remained unaddressed.
When the Seva’s Youth-Led Outreach Program conducted a school screening program at Alisha’s school, she was able to get her eyes checked. Once the team realized her urgent need for proper eye care and glasses, they helped Alisha with transportation to the hospital to receive the medical treatment she needed. Now Alisha can read and perform well in school due to the treatment she received.
Donations from people like YOU make the lives of people like Alisha’s much brighter.
Donations to Optometry Giving Sight make an impact by giving sight to people in need through the projects we fund. One of the projects we support established the Pediatric Refractive Error Training Center (PRETC) in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Dr. Minh Anh Tran, an optometrist, educator and supervisor at PRETC, tells the story of how a young boy’s life changed because of this support:
“It has been a few months since I first examined a little boy called Kiet. He was six years old at the time he first visited me. His mother raised concerns about his ability to see in daily life. He had been diagnosed with a rare disease that his mother couldn’t name, but it badly affects his visual acuity.
I still recall his presence enlightening our clinic. He seemed so intelligent and active that I observed a very ordinary boy despite knowing his history.
I did a low vision assessment on Kiet to evaluate his visual function. Kiet has nystagmus, macular atrophy, and high myopic astigmatism. Due to the condition, his visual field was intact, but his central vision was impaired badly. He struggled to read, write, watch television, look across the street, and spot anyone from a distance. He needs light to read at near, even larger print. He can walk well in bright conditions.
After refining his glasses, the Teaching Assistants and I took out a series of low-vision devices for him to trial. His vision improved with a simple device, the telescope. This device magnifies the image to six times bigger and helps Kiet see objects from a distance. Kiet was overtly happy that he could now read what was far away. In fact he was ecstatic about it. I saw tears of joy in his mother’s eyes. That night, his mother texted me that she was so happy to see Kiet using the telescope and reading a letter on the community board. We call it ‘the moment’!
I am looking forward to seeing Kiet again in the next few months when the pandemic reduces; we can try other near devices that may benefit him even better.
The PRETC is where my students learn from all the cases we treat. I hope, like me, they enjoy ‘the moment’ with their patients. My best wishes to Kiet; I hope he studies well in school and will always be happy in life.”
Donations from people like YOU make the lives of people like Kiet’s much brighter. The Pediatric Refractive Error Training Center (PRETC) project in Hanoi, Vietnam is implemented by funding partner Brien Holden Foundation through funding from Optometry Giving Sight donors.
Stay tuned for more stories about the impact you are making every day.
Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) is pleased to announce that Lois Schoenbrun, CAE (Ret.), FAAO, has been appointed Interim Executive Director, effective April 11, 2022.
Ms. Schoenbrun formerly served as Executive Director of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Academy of Optometry Foundation from 1996 to 2019. Ms. Schoenbrun’s tenure at the Academy saw substantial growth in membership, annual meeting attendance, and assets, as well as significantly enhanced standing within the optometric community. She is now president of Schoenbrun Consulting, LLC, providing fund-raising, strategic planning, governance, and executive coaching services to such other clients as the Sport and Social Industry Association, the World Council of Optometry, and the World Optometry Foundation.
“We are delighted to have Ms. Schoenbrun’s experience and knowledge of the profession during this time of critical need for global eye and vision care services. She brings many years of proven organizational and leadership skills, and the interpersonal skills needed to represent OGS well to our global partners,” said Dr. Juan Carlos Aragon, Board Chair for the US and President, CooperVision Specialty Eye Care.
1.2 billion people need help to see. Communities around the world suffer from unnecessary blindness or vision impairment simply because they don’t have access to eye exams and appropriate glasses. With the support of the optometry industry, optometry professionals, patients, and donors, Optometry Giving Sight funds programs to deliver desperately needed vision care, train local eye care professionals, and develop sustainable infrastructure in developing countries.
OGS expects to launch a search for a new Executive Director in 2022.
Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) annonce l’arrivée de Sharyn Gallatin, nouvelle directrice du développement pour l’Amérique du Nord, ainsi que le départ à la retraite d’Eric Anderson, directeur de l’engagement des donateurs pour l’Amérique du Nord.
Sharyn possède plus de 20 ans d’expérience dans le domaine de la collecte de fonds comme solliciteuse bénévole, et aussi comme directrice du développement à la Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, où elle a pu poursuivre des activités philanthropiques dans un contexte professionnel. Dans le cadre de ce poste, elle a revitalisé la campagne annuelle ainsi que la Jewish Foundation, qui est l’organisme responsable des dons planifiés pour la Jewish Federation. Jusqu’à récemment, Sharyn occupait le poste de directrice des fondations des Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.
En plus de ses contributions au secteur du développement à but non lucratif, Sharyn travaille depuis plus de 20 ans comme avocate spécialisée dans la planification successorale. Son expérience est essentielle pour la planification de dons et la pérennité de l’organisation. « Je suis ravie et honorée de me joindre à l’équipe d’OGS. J’ai hâte de me mettre à l’œuvre et de propulser les activités de développement de ressources de cette formidable organisation vers de nouveaux sommets! »
Eric Anderson a travaillé chez OGS pendant plus de sept ans. Il est arrivé dans notre équipe avec une vaste expérience de la collecte de fonds, principalement dans le domaine de l’enseignement supérieur. Eric a contribué à la réalisation de la mission d’OGS en jouant un rôle déterminant dans l’obtention du soutien de la communauté des optométristes. « J’ai eu le privilège et le bonheur de connaître les intervenants de l’industrie optique et de me lier d’amitié avec les nombreuses personnes qui ont fait des dons pour cette bonne cause. J’encourage grandement les entreprises d’optique, leurs dirigeants et leurs employés, les optométristes et autres professionnels des soins de la vue qui n’ont pas appuyé OGS à le faire, à donner en retour et à donner la vue et de l’espoir aux personnes partout dans le monde qui ont besoin de nous pour voir », a affirmé Eric.
Anne Marie Hand, directrice exécutive d’OGS pour l’Amérique du Nord, a indiqué : « Je souhaite la bienvenue à Sharyn et j’ai très hâte de collaborer avec elle et de donner un nouvel élan à OGS! Je souhaite remercier Eric pour ses années de service. Je le remercie également d’avoir occupé temporairement le poste de directeur exécutif par intérim. »