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Ethiopia Project - Vision Aid Overseas

Saturday, September 26, 2009
Dave has arrived in Ethiopia! click on his blog www.ethiopiadiary.blogspot.com to see what's going on.

At the end of September I, along with 7 colleagues from the UK, will be heading to southern Ethiopia on a project organised by the charity known as “Vision Aid Overseas” www.vao.org.uk

As well as all the problems we already know about millions of people there simply cannot see. They can't work, recognise faces or function on a daily basis, children can’t do school work etc. However the vast majority could be helped by spectacles or simple treatment. To see a video about the problem click here

Of course here we all take for granted that if we have even a slight problem we can pop along to our local optician to get fixed up with glasses or contact lenses, or even come to see me at Little Grove for laser eye surgery. However in huge areas of Africa people don't have access to Opticians, glasses etc. as they just don't exist.

Anyone here who wears glasses only has to take them off, or take their contact lenses out, for 10 minutes and try to imagine how they would cope if life was always like that. Most couldn’t go to school, work, get about etc., leading to less self sufficiency, no way of making an income hence the inability to support families...the list goes on.

We will be there for 2 weeks during which time we hope to test as many eyes and hand out as many pairs of specs as possible. We'll also be teaching local staff basic techniques to help them become more self sufficient. Vision Aid Overseas organises several projects to various areas in Africa, Asia and South America. Trust me to land the area which requires the most hideous vaccinations!

What we desperately need is unwanted specs and, of course, any cash we can get. Any glasses collected are forwarded to a few UK prisons, where certain prisoners have been trained to verify specs so they can sort them into their various powers. We then collect them at Heathrow before catching the flight to Addis Ababa. During the time in Ethiopia we will prescribe anyone we can help with the closest spectacles we have in our supply. We aim to take several thousand pairs of specs as previous projects have seen hundreds of people per day, many of whom have walked for hours to get help.

Whilst I am there I'll try to keep the blog up to date with what's happening on the project and will try to post photos etc when I can. It will all depend on the availability of phone signals. Many of the areas we are going to don't have electricity let alone internet!

Each project costs around £12,000 to put together, each of the volunteers contributes £600 each, the rest comes from the charity.

Therefore if anyone has any unwanted glasses hanging around then please forward them to me as they would be greatly appreciated. I’ll be holding a charity lunch prior to departure (Sept 26th) but also anyone wishing to contribute just a few pounds can do so by clicking "Donate towards the project" link below

Contributions are of course essential to the charity and are very much appreciated. However if you cannot contribute then please don't worry as glasses alone are a massive help.

For more information on Vision Aid Overseas go to www.vao.org.uk
or click here.