YOU Make a Difference – Meet Yamilet from Mexico!

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!

YOU Make a Difference – Meet the Graduates!

Malawi Graduates

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.

You Make a Difference! Meet Kiet from Vietnam.

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.

Photo of a young boy named Kiet from Vietnam with a low vision device

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.

Welcome to our New Monthly Newsletter

 

 

Optometry Giving Sight Appoints Lois Schoenbrun Interim Executive Director

Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) is pleased to announce that Lois Schoenbrun, CAE (Ret.), FAAO, has been appointed Interim Executive Director, effective April 11, 2022.

Photo of Lois Schoenbrun - Interim Executive Director of Optometry Giving SightMs. 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.

 

 

Spring 2022 Newsletter

 

Optometry Giving Sight Comings and Goings

Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) announces Sharyn Gallatin as the new Director of Development, North America, and the retirement of Eric Anderson, Director of Donor Engagement, North America.

Sharyn Gallatin PhotoSharyn Gallatin has over 20 years of fundraising experience, as both a volunteer solicitor and when she moved to the professional side of philanthropy where she assumed the role of Chief Development Officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor. There she revitalized the Annual Campaign, and the Jewish Foundation, which is the planned giving arm of the Federation. Most recently, Sharyn was the Director of Foundations and Endowment for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.

In addition to her work in nonprofit development, Sharyn has over 20 years of experience as an estate planning attorney, which is instrumental in planned giving and vital to the long-term sustainability of the organization. “I am so excited and honored to join the OGS team. I look forward to hitting the ground running and taking the resource development of this amazing organization to new heights!”

Eric Anderson was with OGS for seven and a half years and came with a wealth of fundraising experience, mostly in higher education. He has been a driving force in securing support from the optometric community to meet the OGS mission. Eric states “It has been my privilege and joy to get to know the optical industry and to make friends with the many donors to this great cause. I strongly encourage optical companies, their leaders and employees, optometrists and other ECPs who have not supported OGS to do so, to give back, to give sight and hope to those around the world who literally need our help to see.”

Anne Marie Hand, Executive Director, North America at Optometry Giving Sight stated “I want to welcome Sharyn and greatly look forward to working with her and taking OGS to the next level! I also want to thank Eric for his years of service and for the brief time he served as Interim Executive Director.”

Optometry Giving Sight Grants Over $800,000 in Project Funding for 2021!

Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) is pleased to announce that for 2021 it has awarded over $800,000 in grant funding for eye care projects around the world for communities in need.

In a joint statement from Juan Carlos Aragon OD, Chair of the U.S. board, and Susan Cooper OD, Chair of the Canadian board, “We are delighted that we were able to designate funds for 26 projects in over 21 different countries, including the United States and Canada, during our Spring and Fall funding cycles. We want to thank all our donors for their incredible support this year.”

Anne Marie Hand, Executive Director at Optometry Giving Sight, stated, “Our donors truly make a difference in the lives of thousands of people every year and we are so grateful for their support. All the projects we funded represent our dedication to the three pillars of OGS:

  • Train community members to become eye care professionals
  • Establish and support schools of optometry and vision centers
  • Deliver eye care services to communities in need ”

Starting in 2022, and in subsequent years, OGS will move from two funding cycles per year to one, which will occur each summer. More information will be available early in 2022 on our funding page.

The following table provides the names of all our implementing partners who received a  grant in 2021.

Organization Project Location
Asia Pacific Council of Optometry Worldwide (virtual)
Brien Holden Foundation Tanzania
Brien Holden Foundation Vietnam
Ecole d’optométrie de l’université de montréal Mali
Global Ophthalmic Institute South Africa
India Vision Institute India
Mzuzu University Malawi
Ohio Optometric Foundation United States
Operation Eyesight India
Penonome Lions Club Panama
Restoring Vision Dominican Republic
Right to Sight Ghana
Saving KidSight United States
See Better. Learn Better Jamaica
Seva Foundation Nepal
Siloam Mission Canada
Special Olympics Kenya, United States & Virtual
Symbiosis International Bangladesh
Ver Bien para Aprender Mejor Mexico
Vision Aid Overseas Sierra Leone
Vision for the Poor Guatemala
Vision Institute of Canada Canada
Vision Spring Ghana & Vietnam
VOSH California Nicaragua
VOSH International (2) Worldwide

 

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