September 2008 PDF Print E-mail

img_1833-copy_edited-6.jpgSome 240 adults and children of the remote Richtersveld Community Conservancy in the Northern Cape recently benefited from free eye clinics in their communities thanks to the efforts of Reach4Sight and sponsorship from mining company Trans Hex.

The dusty settlements of Sanddrif near Alexander Bay, Kuboes, Lekkersing and Eksteenfontein in the Richtersveld Community Conservancy are not perhaps noted for their beauty, nestled as they are in an arid area that receives very little rain. But in spring patches of pink, white, yellow and purple flowers provide welcome splashes of colour. This September also saw Reach4Sight visiting the four hamlets to provide free eye care to their people.

With sponsorship from mining company Trans Hex, which has already invested millions of rands in social responsibility projects in the area, Reach4Sight’s optometrist Keith Reid examined 242 patients and prescribed glasses for 92 of them. He referred a further 15, mainly for lens implants for cataracts. Sadly, one Xhosa woman with a bad infection that had not been properly treated for five months had lost her vision in that eye.

Dry, dusty and ramshackle these settlements might be, but their people are full of life, not seeming to mind waiting long hours for their turn to be seen, using the time to chat to friends and catch up on local gossip. There’s plenty room for fun too; when a man missed the chair as he sat, ending with his bum on the floor, his neighbours quickly checked nothing but his pride was hurt and then cheerfully dissolved into peals of laughter.

Many middle-aged people simply needed reading glasses, but a large number of patients had astigmatism due to pterygiums, exacerbated by the arid conditions. One 27-year-old with an 8-diopter prescription and fairly high astigmatism was elated to see properly for the first time; another 7-year-old with a similar high script was luckier to get help earlier in life, saving him years of struggling with poor vision.

Healthcare workers are always helpful and grateful for Reach4Sight’s contribution to the well-being of their communities. At Lekkersing, the Sister made herself available to help Reid for the whole day. Larger than life and with a wonderful sense of compassion and humour, Sister Esther Mokupi is a shining star in her adopted community, one of the dedicated, altruistic and unsung heroines of healthcare in South Africa. Thanks are also due to Sofie Links, Sonja Uys, Serena Titus and Anna Links for their assistance.

Reach4Sight is a non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing free eye care to the poor of rural and remote communities. It has examined some 3000 patients and provided 600 pairs of spectacles since April 2007. For more information see

Further sponsorship is needed to extend the service to more communities. If you or your company can help with sponsorship for lenses and frames, the cost of fuel or accommodation, contact Reid on tel +27 (0)21 782-6313, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . ‘My biggest dream is to have someone sponsor a caravan that we can use as a mobile clinic,’ says Reid.


Previous sponsors

Basic Optical

Carl Zeiss Vision
Ebony Optical

Optic Trade Links

Trans Hex Group

Welch Allyn

Lee Daniels