Over the last two years more than 20000 Indians have benefited from programs launched in the context of a collaboration between Essilor Vision Foundation and local Group partner ESCO. We visited their latest screening initiative in an orphanage earlier this month in order to speak to volunteers and beneficiaries and share their experiences.
Essilor Vision Foundation and local Group partner Essilor Sankaran and Company (ESCO) first joined hands in November 2014 to launch screening projects in Tamil Nadu, a state in South East India. Over the past two years they have organized free screening events in many different institutions and equipped people with free spectacles if vision problems were detected. The majority of initiatives have focused on children from underpriviledged families. Healthy vision is fundamental for children in order to be able to achieve their full potential at school and support their social and professional development as adults.
In total, almost 17000 children and more than 3000 adults have benefited from free vision tests. About 600 spectacles where given out to girls and boys and over 200 to adults enabling many of them to see clearly for the first time. The screenings also helped to create awareness about the importance of healthy vision in these local communities.
Deepa Mohanraj, Founder of Kaumaram Prashanthi Special Children School, one of the schools that was part of the program, told us about the impact new glasses can have on the children’s lives: “EVF’s effort helped our children to be independent, smile and express their gratitude because they are now able to see the world better. Parents were worried that the children would not use their specs because they were not familiar with them. However, we are helping them to get used to their glasses and show them how they can make things easier.”
Healthy vision is not only important for children but also for adults in their professional activities. Vision problems can reduce employees’ performance by as much as 20% and can have a considerable impact on employment opportunities, job satisfaction and job security. One of the screening events was held in Anugraha Valve Castings, a leading local steel foundry. B. Anand Kumar, Managing Director of the company, explained: “I am aware that EVF has improved several people’s vision as well as their quality of life. But after the eye camp was organised at our premises, I noticed a vast improvement in our employees’ performances. There is a clear increase in our production numbers and quality of work.”
For older people, a pair of spectacles can be a real everyday life facilitator, as a resident at a home for the elderly explained: “I used to often fall down the stairs but never realized it was because I couldn’t see properly. But then a vision camp was organised at our home, where they checked my eyes and provided me with a free pair of glasses. I am very thankful for this.”
Providing better life through better vision at these eye camps is a priceless life-time experience.
A life-changing experience not only for beneficiaries, but for volunteers as well. “Providing better life through better vision at these eye camps is a priceless life-time experience,” said A. Somasundaram, Managing Director of ESCO. A. Shruthi, who volunteered at several initiatives, added: “I’m grateful to be part of EVF which enables me to do my work and also help correct the vision of people in need. I lack the words to express the satisfaction I get when I receive the love & blessings from those we have helped.”
The latest initiative in this partnership between EVF and ESCO took place in Mariyalayam orphanage in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, which is home to 90 orphans. During a one day vision screening event on the 11th of June all the children received a full eye exam. 9 of them were equipped with spectacles and another 6 were referred to the hospital as they had serious vision problems.
Mrs Shyla from Mariyalayam orphanage shared her impression about this day with us: “This was such a useful camp for our children. Hospitals have reached out to us before for screenings, but providing free spectacles to the children in need really helps them to improve their lives. Since we run the home from donations, we would not be able to buy them for the children.” Sabina one of the girls that received her first pair of spectacles was excited to tell us about her experience: “Before I saw some things only blurry, but I didn’t know whom to tell and how to explain. Now with my new spectacles I can see and read better. They explained me how to use them; it is like something new got added to my life. I am so happy, thank you for the spectacles.”
It is like something new got added to my life. I am so happy, thank you for the spectacles.
The screening in the orphanage is the latest in a long-running program of community visual health events undertaken by Essilor Vision Foundation and ESCO. We will continue to give a voice to the stories and experiences of volunteers and new wearers.