July 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Some 300 adults and children of Elim in the southern Cape, and Eksteenfontein and Kuboes in the Northern Cape, have recently benefited from free eye care thanks to Basic Optical Laboratories, Ethix Eyewear, Carl Zeiss and Keith Reid Optometrists.

Elim was founded in 1824 as a Moravian mission station dedicated to establishing a self-supporting church of ‘indigenous people’. Today the historical village, still privately owned by the church, has a Dutch gabled church and an old watermill, and is the only place in South Africa that boasts a monument celebrating the abolition of slavery.

In May Fish Hoek optometrist Keith Reid and Basic Optical Laboratories’ dispenser Schalk Wepener spent two days in the thatch-and-whitewash village, where the Elim Guesthouse provided the venue for the clinic. Then in June Reid and his wife set up temporary eye clinics at the Kuboes Municipal Hall and the Eksteenfontein Day Clinic, both in the remote Richtersveld Community Conservancy. Reid referred a number of patients to local hospitals for lens implants and prescribed some 130 pairs of spectacles, worth approximately R40 000.

To provide this service entirely free to those who can’t afford it, Ethix Eyewear and Keith Reid Optometrists generously sponsored the frames for all three venues, while Basic Optical sponsored the lenses and fitting, and Carl Zeiss supplied spectacle cases – all at no cost to the patients.

It’s always rewarding to be able to help patients struggling with difficulties, and Elim was no exception. A 94-year-old woman who was using a 30-year-old pair of enormous, heavy glasses held together with tape is now the proud owner of a more modern pair with stronger but lighter plastic lenses, while a 15-year-old schoolboy with high astigmatism is seeing clearly for the first time in his young life.

The dusty Richtersveld communities were especially grateful for Reid’s visit. In Eksteenfontein, a Namastap troupe visited in the evening to show off their music and dancing. Arthritic 70-year-old Tant Sanna, stick thin, her wrinkled face constantly creased into a smile, admitted that she’d be stiff the next day but grinned, ‘I really enjoyed the dancing!’ Another old woman with severe cataracts in both eyes was so happy to learn that there was an operation that could improve her vision that she pulled Reid to his feet and danced him around the stoep of the tiny clinic.

Having already completed 19 free clinics in remote areas, Reid hopes to extend this service to other poor communities in the Northern and Western Cape. This requires further sponsorship: if your or your company can assist with sponsorship for lenses and frames, the cost of fuel or accommodation, please contact him on tel +27 (0)21 782-6313.


Previous sponsors

Basic Optical

Carl Zeiss Vision
Ebony Optical

Optic Trade Links

Trans Hex Group

Welch Allyn

Lee Daniels