Applications are open for students who wish to apply for a bursary to complete work experience in Africa with Vision Aid Overseas (VAO).
Two bursaries are offered to second-year optical students through the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) and VAO annually. The fund was established in memory of Irvine Aitchison, co-founder of Dollond & Aitchison, and is made available by the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO). It offers students the opportunity to take part in a two-week project over the summer months alongside other qualified optometrists and VAO volunteers.
Chair of the IAMF, optometrist David Cartwright, said: “One of the many things that FODO does behind the scenes for the sector and to encourage talent is to run the Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund which grants bursaries each year to send optical students from the UK and Ireland overseas to gain experience through VAO. The commitment and enthusiasm of these young volunteers is awe-inspiring and clearly sets them on a path to become the optical leaders of tomorrow.”
Last year, Muhammad Vali, of the University of Manchester, secured a bursary and travelled to Lusaka in Zambia for a VAO project in a community school on the outskirts of the city.
Speaking about the trip, Mr Vali said: “The experience was phenomenal and one that I will never forget.”
He added: “The project allowed me to develop my clinical skills by seeing pathology that many UK optometrists don’t see in their lifetime. The experience has made me appreciate how grateful we should be in our country to be given and to have access to healthcare so easily.”
For more information and to apply, visit the VAO website.