News

Specsavers team return from €11,000 aid mission to Kolkata

30 November, 2017
Store director Lisa Walsh, together with Orla Murphy and Jasmine Jose and Edwina McKinney pictured in Kolkata
Store director Lisa Walsh, together with Orla Murphy and Jasmine Jose and Edwina McKinney pictured in Kolkata

A team of optometrists from Specsavers stores in Liffey Valley, Crumlin and Clondalkin have just returned from a successful trip volunteering for The Hope Foundation in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) bringing sight to over 1,000 people.

The Hope Foundation

Having raised over €11,000 for the charity ahead of the trip, the group spent seven days in the Indian city, marking the first mission that Specsavers has embarked on with the charity. Specsavers store owners across the country donated money towards the charity in order to purchase glasses for the team to bring to Kolkata but to also purchase a portable auto-refractor machine, worth €6,500, which was gifted to the Hope Foundation.

1,000 eye tests

During the seven days, store director Lisa Walsh, together with opticians Orla Murphy and Jasmine Jose and dispensing optician Edwina McKinney, carried out over 1,000 eye tests on people across slums, schools, hospitals and rural villages in the region. They dispensed over 300 pairs of glasses and 600 pairs of the pre-made bifocals to those who were tested. In addition to this, urgent referrals were made for eye disease and trauma-related issues, as well as 100 referrals for cataracts, to The Hope Hospital.

Reduced vision

For many of the patients, this was their first experience having their eyes tested, highlighting how many people do not have access to basic health services in this part of the world. A number of those tested had reduced vision because of uncorrected refractive error, one of the most common causes of treatable blindness in the developing world. By simply providing these individuals with glasses, something that is often taken for granted, the team gave many of the people the ability to learn, work or provide for their families.

Humbling experience

Specsavers store director Lisa Walsh commented: ‘It has been an amazing and humbling experience working alongside The Hope Foundation. Witnessing first-hand the charity’s continuous efforts to provide and care for the people of Kolkata was overwhelming and something we were honoured to be a part of. At Specsavers, we can give people the gift of sight, something that is often taken for granted. However, many people in Kolkata do not have access to proper eye care services. It is vital we do all that we can to improve the eye health of those less fortunate than ourselves, making our trip to Kolkata even more rewarding.’

Generous support

Dispensing optician and store director Edwina McKinney commented: ‘We witnessed unimaginable poverty, alongside challenging conditions, yet we were met with only smiles, joy and gratitude. For this, we would like to say a massive thank you to everybody who donated and helped in our fundraising efforts at our Liffey Valley, Crumlin and Clondalkin stores. None of this would have been possible without the generous support of our customers and of course, the volunteers and staff of The Hope Foundation.’

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