JUNE 10, 2017

Today was Catherine’s and Will’s last full day of outreach. The lessons they have learned, the people they have helped, the contacts they have made are all huge leaps forward in implementing a scalable, sustainable program of vision delivery. Well done you two!

Here is Catherine’s daily diary entry:

“It has been remarkable to see the turnout at Secundaria Moçambicanos Herois. Today was exceptionally uplifting after encountering several small challenges earlier in the week.

Our trusty team of Ministry of Education (MOE) people: Nascimento, Leo, and Cartella hit the ground running and managed to keep both momentum and humor about them for the duration of the day despite the hectic atmosphere. Students poured in steadily from the moment we arrived until the end of day.

By the time we finished, I think we all were exhausted.

It will be quite strange to wake up on Monday morning without rushing off to a school, big bag of lenses and frames in tow. I’ve just gotten into the swing of things here and will be sad to temporarily wrap things up until the next trip.

Mozambique has treated us well with its piri piri and perfectly brewed ‘café’. The inexpensive seafood, live music and cheap Mozambican beer after the work week hasn’t been awful either. 😉

The MOE, students and teachers have all been so wonderful in making us feel welcome and working to assist us with setting up our operations. Without them I’m not sure we would have had a GV2020 trip! (See last Tuesday’s post: the Mozambican customs debacle).

It’s been incredible to learn about Maputo, explore the province, and meet so many wonderful new people. We look forward to returning in a few months time with some new and improved developments to GV2020’s Mozambique program and hope to continue bringing this joint vision of our’s and MOE’s into focus!”

Safe travels you two! See you soon.

JUNE 9, 2017

Things are wrapping up in Mozambique. Will and Catherine have one more afternoon to enjoy the experience of delivering clearer vision! Yesterday was a new school, and today they finish-up back at the High School of Mozambique Hero’s (more on that later!). Here’s yesterday’s post from Will:

“We had another busy day at a new school. There were two highlights of the day for me. One was watching a timid gym teacher come forward to help when we needed screeners in order to get through all the students who needed testing. He was hesitant at first, which is understandable. Screening the students takes practice before you really get comfortable with the testing.

However, he pushed through the hesitation because he realized the importance of screening the students at his school. He understood that this was an opportunity to change the lives of his students. After screening a few students, he got the hang of the test and helped many of his students get a vision screening.

The second highlight, was watching the tangible joy in a teacher’s face when he put on his new reading glasses. He could not help but quickly pullout a newspaper from his bag to glance at it with his improved vision. He was so ecstatic that he called his peers to share in the joy that he was feeling!

For us in the U.S, we can grab an affordable pair of reading glasses at any CVS, Target, or Walmart; however, in some developing countries they are neither affordable nor accessible. Our hope is that this won’t be the case for long here in Maputo.”

JUNE 6, 2017

Today’s update from Will:

“Today we trained 4 new school teachers and continued to screen local kids and adults. We have also been able to connect with a local optometrist who is passionate about providing the best care for the citizens of Maputo. He offered to be the point of contact for the kids who need a higher level of care. He even offered his personal cell phone number so he can connect these children to the right provider.

We love seeing this level of passion among the citizens of Mozambique! Through his kindness, we created a referral sheet for the children to take home to their parents. Some of these children have never seen an eye-care professional despite having significant visual deficits for many years. We hope that through our work this number will decrease.”

JUNE 5, 2017

Talking to Will and Catherine this evening, I could tell they had a tiring day! Little did I know they were dealing with an issue I created in September of last year. Glad it turned out well!

Here’s Catherine’s update:

“I started today by dousing myself head-to-toe in black coffee when our vehicle hit a road bump. It definitely woke me up. It also served as an excellent conversation starter for the duration of the day. Most of those conversations did not take place with me though. Will, being fluent in Portuguese, was kind enough to point this out to me. After all, what are colleagues for! Thanks Will! (ha)

Otherwise the morning began with meeting Dr. Arlinda Chaquisse, the National Director of Healthcare Education for the Ministry of Education. We discussed with her our successes and setbacks, as well as ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program as we move forward.

Afterward, we revisited The High School of Mozambique Hero’s to conduct vision evaluations to another third of the school (this school is massive) and to retest students that GV2020 had seen in September of last year. This was no small task and Will and Nascimento spent the day barreling through without so much as stopping for a minute’s rest. While the beauty of the USee partially lies in its quickness of function, it was really incredible to see how any reservations about the process were slowly eliminated by the attentiveness and time both Will and the newly trained evaluators gave each patient.

While the reactions of students and teachers, as evidenced by photos, are quite measured – handing out the glasses to the people that had been waiting for them to arrive was another matter. What I had envisioned as methodically doling out pre-assembled glasses to a calm crowd quickly turned into complete chaos. Everyone wanted their glasses and they wanted them five minutes ago.

It wasn’t until I extracted myself from the school environment and had time to reflect on the day that I realized that, while some of this chaos was excitement, for others there was some element of anxiety – how are they to know when they’ll have another opportunity to be fitted for glasses? If they don’t receive them this time, will there be a next time?

I hope that as Global Vision 2020 continues to work with these schools, students and teachers alike will find comfort in the consistency of our presence and any lingering anxieties about the availability of quality eye care will be quelled! ”

Thanks Catherine!

JUNE 2, 2017

Well the word is definitely out at the Local High Schools! Will and Catherine wrapped up the week at the last one on our list, and are looking forward to heading back next week to follow up with both the students and the new “refractionists”. Here’s today’s update from Will:

“We are happy to inform that the city level employees are feeling very comfortable training the school teachers and personnel who are eager to help. This has been our goal from the beginning. We want to empower entire communities in order to help kids see better. Today we were able to screen 111 kids and distribute 20 pairs of glasses!

Despite the immense positive impact of improving simple refractive error, there is still a great need for medical professionals and resources in this developing country. We have seen a handful of kids with more serious pathology who have never seen an ophthalmologist. Our training includes the ability to triage these issues and get the kids to the help they need. Also, we are constantly hearing of personal accounts of people having a prescription, but not being able to afford to make the actual glasses.

We are trying to lead a paradigm shift that will not only inspire local communities to care for their vision, but also inspires individuals to partner with us in order to give these communities the same level of care we take for granted in developed countries.”

Keep it coming Will! Oh, and we agree!!

JUNE 2, 2017

June 1st sounds like Catherine and Will’s busiest day yet. The word is starting to spread from school to school! Here’s yesterday’s update from Catherine:

“The GV2020 team and the Ministry of Education had quite the day! We arrived at Escola Secundaria Zedequias Manganhela around 9 AM and the principal directed us to a room to set-up and get the testing underway.

The Ministry of Education had four representatives with us conducting the vision tests (they are old pro’s by now). While the morning was a bit slow (a younger age group), a handful of children still needed glasses. At some point between the morning group and the afternoon group, the Adjunct Principle of the School arrived to watch the project in action. I was so happy to see that after circling the room a few times to speak with her colleagues, she settled into a desk and began taking the vision test. Needless to say – her vision is perfect!!

There was a lull between the morning group leaving and the afternoon group arriving so Will and I utilized this time to hang out with the kids. I sat with the girls on the sideline discussing music and boyfriends. Will ran around with the boys chasing a soccer ball until he managed to make a goal from some distance. As I’m sure you can imagine, the boys went wild!!

It wasn’t until the second group of the day arrived that the most fascinating trends started appearing during the vision tests. It was astounding that at the same school, on the same day, but a slightly older age group – glasses seemed to be needed by every patient being seen. A sizable amount of these children had to be prescribed lens strengths of -3 or higher! And despite the long lines and wait, kids continued to flood through the doors. We didn’t leave the school until well after 5 PM, once every student that needed to be seen had been evaluated.

It was really cool to see how needed Global Vision 2020 was here today, also to realize that these glasses will impact these students and quite possibly the outcome of their future! It was without a doubt a successful day.”

Well done Catherine! You too Will!

MAY 31, 2017

Sounds like Will and Catherine had a busy day today! Here’s the latest update from Will:

“We had our most productive day thus far! We traveled along bumpy dirt roads until we found the Escola Secundária de Malhazine. Once there, we were able to quickly train 3 new technicians. They in turn were able to screen 73 kids and hand out 9 pair of glasses. Each pair of glasses had a tremendous positive impact in these children’s visual function.

Although it is humbling to see these kids excited about their better vision, it has been such an amazing and unforgettable experience to see the delight and eagerness of the technicians as they learn how to do a screening and prescribe cost-effective glasses to students in their own community. Whenever we start our training session, I can sense the hesitation and nervousness in the room as we hang up our vision charts. However, once they understand how easy it can be to help a child see better via the USee device and after a couple of mock practices, they are enthusiastic to start helping kids see well in order to improve their quality of life! They feel empowered by the fact they are the ones learning this system and are delighted to see the impact that their work is having in the local schools. We aim to train more and more technicians until they in turn can start training others in the community, such as the teachers and nurses within the schools.

On a side note, I had a blast teaching some of the kids about the difference between myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism. Slightly nerdy (don’t judge), but they looked amused and I hope they enjoyed my short ‘lecture.’ ”

Thanks Will. Keep the updates coming!!

MAY 30, 2017

Today’s post comes from Catherine. An amazing woman who’s new to the GV2020 team, but already making a huge impact on our mission, and on the lives of Mozambique High Schoolers. Here’s her post:

“The Global Vision team set out this morning to conduct training at the Ministry of Education’s provincial-level Maputo office. Upon arriving, the Provincial School Director expressed a dire need for Global Vision 2020’s training and glasses, explaining that he hoped to cover more schools in the near future – a possibility we both aim to make a reality! After a short walk to the Escola Secundária Herois Moçambicanos (the High School of Mozambique Hero’s), the newly trained officials helped set-up a testing area and we were on our way.

One boy in particular was of special interest to us all. It was immediately apparent that something was horribly amiss. While testing on the top two lines he was consistently making mistakes. He constantly struggled to keep from squinting and he couldn’t resist leaning forward and opening his eyes wide to try and make sense of what he was seeing in front of him. After much back and forth and multiple testing attempts to ensure he comprehended what was being asked of him, it was apparent he was in serious need of glasses.

The technician placed the USee on the boy’s face and the boy immediately began turning the dials. Somewhat surprisingly (though less surprising given his performance on the eye exam) – his prescription read -4 in one eye and -2.25 in the other. It truly was astounding he could perform in school at all! The boy chose his frames, the appropriate lenses were inserted, and within minutes of being retested with his new glasses he was up and out the door. This child alone would have been worth the trip, to see the burden of his poor vision alleviated within minutes. It was a humbling reminder that he is one of millions of kids who live with poor vision, and whose quality of life, safety, educational opportunities, etc., can be greatly improved with the introduction of eyeglasses. The USee kits truly are an enabler that every school should have!”

Keep up the great work Catherine!

MAY 29, 2017

Hi All! We have a small team in Mozambique for the next two weeks, and we get to live vicariously through them for the short while they are there.

Their goal is to:
1) Train local Eye Health Coordinators on how to train others to use the USee system
2) Help these Eye Health Coordinators train teachers at four Maputo City High Schools, and
3) Help those teachers deliver eyeglasses to all of the students that need, but until now, have had no access to eyeglasses.

They’ve been there for one day, and already accomplished goal number one.

Here’s an update from Will:

“The Global Vision 2020 team had an eventful day here in MZ!

We began the day at the National Ministry of Education, where we met with the Director of nutrition and health-Graziela Tembe. We had a great meeting where we were able to iron out the details of our plans to train local technicians working in government in order for them to in turn train local teachers to use the USee system. However, in order to do this, we needed our bags with the glasses from customs! We headed from the ministry with an official letter explaining the glasses were donated and should not be taxed. At first, they were still hesitant, but what helped is one of the representatives from the ministry had actually taught the chief of Maputo’s customs office in geography more than 30 years ago (a lesson to always treat your students with respect)! This was our miracle for today! We were then able to get our materials over to the local department of school health and nutrition where we trained roughly 15 technicians on how to use the USee system!”

Stay tuned for daily updates from our team (Will and Catherine)! They are fantastic people that I’m looking forward for you to get to know!

Don’t loose sight of our goals. Follow our teams, keep track of our efforts.

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