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INTERNATIONAL


Senegal Spectacles to


The eyes of over 1,000 people were tested


The Rotary Club of York Ainsty, has supported SpecSort, which collects and cleans spectacles for reuse, for the last twenty two years. During that time, they have supported 11 journeys to five separate African states. Recently, the team visited The Lower Casamance in Senegal, to help the rural population with their vision.


In equatorial Africa, the onset of presbyopia (the need for reading glasses) happens at around the age of 30 years, compared with 45 years in the UK. Consequently, many people are unable to see to work from that age onwards and there is no social security, so there is enormous demand for spectacles since for many people, if they cannot see, they cannot work. Ten clinics were set up in the town of


Oussouye where Optometrist Ruth Perrott and her colleague Ann Morgan, supported by the Diatta family from York, assessed people’s vision and gave them appropriate spectacles. Four work stations were set up at each venue and Judy Diatta was able to practice the local language, Jola. Visions were measured by Sam Diatta using a letter chart and Ann and Ruth undertook a quick binocular refraction. People then passed through to Teba Diatta’s dispensing area to collect their new specs and enjoy an improved quality of vision and life. The teamwork was fantastic and ensured


12 www.ribi.org | April 2014


that people flowed through each clinic smoothly.


Much hilarity Colin Perrott said: "Travelling to the remote community of Hitou Island called for a 75 minute motorised canoe ride followed by a 30 minute walk. The ladies were carried on and off the canoe by fireman’s lift or piggy back, which caused much hilarity. The heavy suitcases full of specs were tied onto a bicycle or carried to the community centre which we used as a clinic. "Big smiles and a warm community


spirit greeted us as the people are very eager to be able to see so that they can work, whether it be sewing or sorting grains of rice." It was the first time a medical team had


visited the area and it was very moving that we were so much appreciated. Motoring through swamps in a large canoe at sunset, with a boatload of spectacles and equipment was a real experience, especially when the canoe became grounded on mud flats for a while. There was a great abundance of wildlife in the delta and the sights and sounds were truly memorable.


Stretched to the limit Clinics took place over three days in the church at Oussouye where literacy rates were higher and the team was in great demand. At other centres they had been turning 30 – 60 people away each day, but here they were stretched to the limit seeing 150 people in just five hours. The team also visited Diembereng, a


very remote community where they spent a night at a hotel where they ran a clinic from their bedroom and saw 50 hotel staff. In total the team saw 1,304 people and dispensed 1,030 pairs of spectacles. Everything went to plan - none of the team was sick, all the equipment and specs made it through without mishap and the stock lasted until the end of the last clinic. Ruth said: “It was one of the best SpecSort trips yet. I hold Senegal very close to my heart – especially the people, their need and their kindness.” If you are interested in collecting


spectacles, please contact Ruth or Colin Perrott on 01904 784040 or send to 30 York Road, Acomb, York, YO24 4LZ.


Ladies were piggy backed on and off the canoe


Colin Perrott Rotary Club of York Ainsty


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