After an initial trip to Jambiani, Zanzibar in the summer of 2003 it was apparent that no one in the village had ever had access to eye care. No one was wearing glasses, not one person in a village of 7,000. Surely this couldn’t be a village of perfect vision. Over the next two years, in collaboration with the Third World Eye Care Society (TWECS) the dream of an eye clinic in the village of Jambiani became a reality.
Over a period of 10 days in November 2006, and with the invaluable support and clinic space provided by Pat Elias and Alastair Pirie of Hands Across Borders, we were able to attend to over 400 patients a day at the Jambiani Wellness Centre. A seven-station eye clinic was created, complete with local volunteers acting as Swahili-English interpreters and a few of us ‘lay’ volunteers. All pre-school and school aged children were tested as well to ensure that those needing glasses received them.
Over the 10-day eye clinic we saw 4,750 patients and gave away over 2,000 pairs of glasses. Each person needing prescription or reading glasses received at least one pair, some received two.