We are just back from Ethiopia where we were able to implement our first social projects – including the eye test day for the children of our coffee farmers. Now we want to show you the achievements of your support. Enjoy the reading!
Screening 870 children on a single day is a real challenge.
First, all children went through a simple pre-screening with an E-chart eye-test and questions (for example whether they have headaches when they read on the blackboard). This pre-screening was performed by the teachers which the ophtamologist Dr. Jafar briefed before. Only those kids who reported problems or were not able to tell to which side the small Es were heading were then sent to Dr. Jafar for a thorough examination. Thanks to this system, we were able to screen all 870 children of the Bufeta Gibe school on one single day.
Fetiyah finally got eyeglasses.
Fetiyah was the first who received eyeglasses during the health day on 17th of November. Her father Shemsu accompanied her and brought us a prescription for eyeglasses that was written one year ago. Dr. Jafar screened her again and found out that her eyes have gotten worse in the meantime. From -1.25 to now -2.00. Let’s hope that the eyeglasses help to stop this process.
Traditional medicine did not improve Tafiq’s eye problems.
Like Fetiyah’s family, the family of Tafiq also knew that their son has eye problems. But the traditional healing method – cutting small wounds into the lid – did not really help him. Let’s hope the eyeglasses have a bigger impact!
Eyeglasses for Jimma.
The eyeglasses were manufactured and adapted to the children’s needs by Zewge. He is trained to make high quality eyeglasses out of very simple materials (mainly wire) with a technique that was developped by our partner OneDollarGlasses. Up to now the NGO is producing those glasses in Ethiopia only in Alem Katema, which is a two days travel from the coffee region. Zewge therefore introduced the OneDollarGlasses technique to Dr. Jafars team who will hopefully soon start to manufacture OneDollarGlasses in Jimma.
In total 15 of the 870 children received a prescription for glasses from the ophtomologist Dr. Jafar. Each of them now wears eyeglasses. These 100% are more than we expected and we’re quite proud of that. At the same time 15 children is significantly less than our estimate (that we based on a study which states that 10%of the children in developing countries have vision problems). An additional 35 children received a prescription for other treatments like eyedrops. Still the sum does not equal the expected 151 children that would profit from our eye test day. But a big part of our costs were independent of the number of children that need eyeglasses (like the per diem we gave to the team, especially for the the eyeglasses-manufacturer Zwege). We hope you will understand that for this first pilot we could not keep our promise of “one package of coffee = one child supported”. We therefore decided to change the “unit” from eyeglasses to screening including the treatments in case of a prescription. If you have any questions regarding this change, please write me!
Eyeglasses in the school bag don’t help.
Some days after the big screening day, we went back to Bufeta Gibe school to check whether the kids were using their eyeglasses or not. Guess what – some did, some did not. A week after she got her glasses, Jiituu told us: “The glasses are great. I can now see perfectly what the teacher writes on the blackboard.” We also asked the school director and the teachers to oversee that the children really use the eyeglasses.
Adults also need eyeglasses.
Knowing there would be a chance to see an ophtomologist, a lot of adults came as well. When the tight schedule permitted it, our medical team also conducted screenings for them and so Shemsu got a pair of eyeglasses with the spectactle strength +8 on both eyes.Adults payed the full price of 100 Birr for their glasses.
Communication is key.
Giving eyeglasses away for nothing wouldn’t help, that’s what everyone told us in Ethiopia. A lot of people would take but few would really use the glasses. Therefore we wanted the parents to pay a small subsidized amount: 50 Birr instead of 120, which is the price of the glasses that OneDollarGlasses asks for – and instead of at least 500 Birr, which is the normal price for glasses in Ethiopia. So we spend a lot of time upfront inviting people: we spoke to the community leaders, to the farmers, to the parents, and last but not least to the children. To attract the parents, we organized a tombola with a solar panel with light bulbs as the first prize.
Our amazing health day team.
All this would not have been possible without the help of Zewge, the ophtomologist Dr. Jafar, the health extension workers Desta and Melkamu, medical student Yarid and Sintayo from the Limmu Inaara Union who supported us. Thank you!