‘Bits of wire and tape’

Vision Aid Overseas hopes to raise the final amount needed to replace a Sierra Leone vision centre’s dilapidated equipment

12 Jan 2017 by Olivia Wannan

The passionate staff at the Connaught Vision Centre in Sierra Leone are using equipment “on its last legs” and “kept going with bits of wire and tape” to help treat its refractive error patients, Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) highlights.

The state of this gear inspired the VAO team to launch a Christmas appeal to replace it – and the charity is almost at its £13,635 goal.

VAO fundraising and communications director, Andy Holliday, told OT that so far £11,038 had been generously donated to the cause, but £2597 needed to be raised by the end of February.

“We’re doing pretty well. We’re nearly there,” he emphasised, adding: “The remaining money will send a team out to train the staff to use the machines and perform routine maintenance. The maintenance side of things is really important.”

Mr Holliday saw the centre’s need for updated equipment himself when he visited Freetown-based facility last year. He emphasised that: “It was really humbling … We left feeling that we had to do something about it.”

Each year, 12,500 patients visit the Connaught Vision Centre for a sight test or spectacles. Mr Holliday emphasised to OT how busy and important the centre was, explaining that he saw “people sitting in rows waiting to go and have tests, people sitting in corridors and anywhere they could.”

He added: “The team were so dedicated and working so hard.”

Without the replacement equipment, the centre would soon be unable to operate, Mr Holliday explained, noting: “Some of it looked like it could have conked out at any stage … The field analyser was completely broken and gathering dust.”

The money has funded a new visual field analyser as well as an auto-edger, a hand edger and a glazing machine, with smaller supplies like test reading cards and stickers for young patients also included.

To find out more or to donate, visit the VAO website.


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