Port Olry Vision Clinic
July 2017, Port Olry, Vanuatu
Duration: 0.5 day
The Lions Club provided Two Llamas with 500 pairs of graded spectacles. We transported them from Australia to Port Olry, where we tested the vision of high school students to determine which ones would benefit from having access to a free pair of spectacles.
Most wearers of glasses secure a replacement pair every two years. Glasses that are no longer required are either discarded, stored or donated. Two Llamas wanted to transplant these items into a community where they might transform the lives of those most in need.
There is no optometrist based on the island of Espiritu Santo and – unless a volunteer optometrist is visiting Luganville - people must fly to Port Vila to have their eyes tested and be fitted with glasses or contact lenses. We wanted to bring vision to those who were least able to get assistance: the elderly and young in the northern village of Port Olry; a community of 3000 people.
Children with impaired vision often experience learning difficulties at school and this can have a life-long impact. The elderly are also greatly disadvantaged as impaired vision leads to decreased independence and increased reliance on the assistance of others.
The Lions Club collects spectacles that are donated to optometrists across Australia. The glasses are then cleaned, repaired, sorted and professionally graded before being individually bagged and boxed for redistribution. Two Llamas was provided with 500 pairs of spectacles that we then transported to the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, for distribution.
Two Llamas recognised the need of corrective vision spectacles among the villagers living in Espiritu Santo. We were provided with information to enable us to undertake basic testing, and printed out/ laminated charts that allow us to test the vision of people who were able to recognise letters of the alphabet, and those who had not learned to read.
Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health provided us with consent to import the spectacles and waived the VAT and Customs Duty costs.
Air Vanuatu provided additional baggage allowance so that we may transport the boxes at no additional cost.
On 6 July, Two Llamas visited the community of Port Olry. We set up testing stations in the high school Dining Hall and started testing the children; one class at a time. We used two types of eye charts: the Tumbling E chart (for those who were unable to read, and the more conventional Snellen chart.
Although we had 500 pairs of widely-graded spectacles with us, we didn’t have the grades required to assist everyone who was in need. After approx. 5 hours of testing, just a dozen pairs were handed out and we agreed that a more efficient method of testing would be required should Two Llamas ever again undertake a spectacles project in future.
As for the remaining 488 spectacles; they were handed over to non-profit group Medical Santo, who are permanently based in Luganville and who have a visiting optician due to arrive later in the year.
There was no budget allocated to this project and as Customs duty and VAT charges had been waived, no funds were required.
Improved learning outcomes for those students who received spectacles is the only realistic measure of this project, due to the very limited reach we were able to achieve. However, future distribution by Medical Santo will likely enable expanded, more worthwhile project measures.
Two Llamas would like to thank Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, who facilitated the importation and distribution of spectacles. We would also like to thank the Health Clinic and High School staff in Port Olry, who assisted on the day.
We are also grateful for the ongoing work that will be undertaken by Medical Santo, which is better placed to achieve meaningful outcomes from the distribution of spectacles in Santo.
Thank you to the Lions Club for the provision of spectacles, and to those who assisted with coordination of pupils on the day.