A clear way forward

Unako Phala, 10, shows off the frame she chose for herself. Sharing her joy is Christine Thonissen, a volunteer from OneSight.

American-based organisation, Connect Network, and global organisation OneSight, teamed up with the Salvation Army to provide this service for those who cannot afford it.

Linda Walters from the Salvation Army explained that Connect Network works “for the good of vulnerable women and children” and provides collaborative support.

“The aim is to see thriving families and children protected on every level. Connect Network has done it before at various non-government organisations across the Cape Peninsula. The Lansdowne Salvation Army is the host for this project, as it forms part of the Lansdowne Child Care Forum, which is a joint project of the SAPS, clinic, library, local businesses, and churches.

For the eye screening and frame project of today, we approached old aged homes, schools and churches, as well as the communities they are involved in.

“There are so many people walking around with bad eyesight because they cannot afford spectacles. Children are struggling at school for this exact reason. Today the beneficiaries receive free eye screenings and can choose a frame for themselves. Those who show a need for a professional eye test, will then receive it for free and eventually their free spectacles,” Ms Walters said.

Naadhira Khan from OneSight said the organisation operates in 46 countries and runs two types of programmes – charitable clinics and affordable eye care clinics.

“The organisation was started in 1988 and up to date, more than nine million spectacles have been handed out worldwide. Optometrists who work with us receive a stipend. For the professional eye test we team up with private practices. We also sponsor the frame and the funds to run the programme,” Ms Khan said.

Valerie Seckens, one of the beneficiaries, said she is near-sighted and is in need of new spectacles, but could not afford it.

“I can’t see so well with my current spectacles, and if one goes to the day hospital, you wait long to get a date for an eye test. I also cannot afford to get private care, so I am very grateful for this opportunity,” she said.