As part of Optical Express’ continued partnership with The Caring City, Optical Express is sending regular shipments of thousands of glasses to Burundi.
The Caring City is partnered with the local organisation African Revival Ministries (ARM) in Burundi. ARM is involved with a number of projects, including a hospital and healthcare facilities, two schools, HIV/AIDS clinics, a nutrition centre and numerous community income generating projects across the country.
With thousands of patients undergoing laser eye surgery and intraocular lens treatment each week, and others upgrading their old glasses as their prescriptions and tastes change, Optical Express saw a unique opportunity to make use of their satisfied patients’ unwanted glasses. Since 2007, Optical Express has been collecting and donating glasses in increasingly large volumes. Burundi is the latest country to benefit from these donations.
“This is a perfect example of a small action making a big impact,” Joanna Patterson, Marketing Assistant for Optical Express, said. “Our patients are ecstatic to be rid of their glasses, and the demand for glasses in impoverished countries like Burundi is enormous. It is an opportunity that we can’t possibly overlook.”
Burundi is particularly in need, with the lowest GDP per capita in the world. Burundi is ranked the 11th poorest country in the world by the UN Development Programme, with 89% of the population earning less than $2 a day.
Ethnic divisions, long histories of armed conflict, and the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS have left many children orphaned and families impoverished.
The high cost of glasses prohibits many from benefiting from improved eyesight, and leaves simple eye conditions undetected and neglected. Children are excluded from attending school because of their vision – a problem which can be easily remedied with a pair of glasses.
“We are always looking for new ways to contribute, particularly if we can make use of our strengths and resources,” Patterson said. “One of the greatest benefits of operating on the scale that we do is that we have the capacity to make a significant impact on individuals and communities across the globe. Sometimes all it takes is a pair of glasses, and we have access to tens of thousands of unwanted pairs each year.”
Based out of Glasgow, The Caring City provides emergency relief and development aid to nations around the world, in addition to supporting communities and raising awareness in Scotland. Current project locations include Uganda, Malawi, South Africa and Iraq.