Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Screening Day 2

The eye is the jewel of the body.
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Excited about having their eyes tested

Another 6:30 am start. However, I arrive to the office to find Sara there and not another soul. Apparently the students took it on themselves to tell the bus driver not to show up until 7:30. Considering we were supposed to be in Enekewni at 7:30 to start at 8, you can imagine we were p!ssed. Especially when I could have had another hour in bed!
Symon helping measure V.A

Today was very different to yesterday. Today we were screening at a primary school. Our aim was to see kids and get their vision corrected as young as possible so that they could progress through school and have as good as education as possible. The education system here is slightly different to at home, the kids need to pass each class (called standards) to progress to the next level. This results in some children having to repeat classes multiple times. As you can imagine, bad eyesight would be a HUGE disadvantage in this case. Also the classes I have seen have anything from 60-120 children. Yup, you are reading that correctly. The teachers here are saints. Teaching that many children, with many sitting on the floor as there are nowhere near enough tables and chairs, dealing with children with mental problems etc etc.
Why is the mzungu taking my photo?

So we began with the youngest classes and screened ALL of the standard ones and twos (approx 200 students under 7). Then after lunch we screened the teachers and specially selected students who the teachers suspected had vision problems. Dealing with the kids was very different to adults. Luckily a lot of them had no major problems, we picked up some children who needed glasses to see the board and also some interesting pathology but mostly it was fun to see the school kids react to the mzungus- asking for pens or money or coca cola. The funniest though is when you take a picture and then show them the picture on your camera, it’s the funniest thing in the world to them.
Tired and sweaty after another long day

Ryan and Elaine hard at work seeing who needs cyclo 

A first year helping measure V.A for the first time

Waiting to be seen
Our office for the day

Everyone wants glasses

Again a HUGELY enjoyable and tiring day but it’s nice to be going out and meeting people and seeing that what we are doing is making a difference. It just reinforces my thinking that this was ultimately the right decision for me. Talking to one of the Canadians who was over for the week to help with the screening and he said “It must be an amazing experience to feel like you are making a difference” and these past few days, I have really felt like we are. 

Quote for the day: "Life is a game, play it; Life is a challenge, Meet it; Life is an opportunity, Capture it.~ Unknown "

Monday, 8 October 2012

Screening day 1

Checking the ocular health

Today marked the start of World Sight Week. Thursday the 11th is World Sight Day when eye care professionals all over the world will be taking part in awareness and fundraising activities. As part of Vision 2020 initiative we decided to host a week of screening days in areas in and around Mzuzu.

Queuing for the first room
Checking VA and preliminary tests

Today we left for Chikangawa, a village about 1 hour south of Mzuzu. Here Francois, Rowan and James had done trojan work over the past few weeks recruiting people with genuine eye concerns so  that we could see the people who really needed it. Our screening rooms were set up in 3 classrooms at Chikangawa primary school. Here the teachers had selected the students they felt that would benefit most from the screening. 

In total we saw approx 300 people, 30 of these were referred to the hospital for cataract removal, low vision services or suspected glaucoma among other conditions.Approx 200 pairs of glasses were distributed for free and it further cemented how happy and grateful people here are. Teachers can now see to correct papers, students can see the board and people who thought they were just going blind are being given a ray of hope by being told that cataract surgery can restore their sight.

Who will benefit from glasses?

Seeing who needs to go to the refracton station
3/4 of team awesome with a very grateful principal and school coordinator
It was a tiring, 12 hour day that involved coordinating 23 students and 7 adults and my very first matola but as my first ever vision screening it is a day I won’t forget in a hurry. Next up, Enukweni and a primary school with 1,200 pupils!

"The eyes have one language everywhere." - George Herbert

Thursday, 4 October 2012

New post coming soon

I have been neglecting this blog I know! There will be some new posts coming soon, hopefully at least one this weekend. In the mean time I want to share one of my favourite poems with you.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 
Robert Frost

I studied this poem initially in first year in secondary school as a 12 year old. It is only recently that I have come to appreciate it fully. Take from it what you wish, whether you take the road in life or quite literally the road to travel but it is one of the few poems I can quote or recite fully.