July 2010 Phuthaditjhaba
phut6In July 2010, Reach4Sight visited Phuthaditjhaba in the high mountains near the Free State border with Lesotho in what used to be called Qwa-Qwa.

This time sponsorship came from the Anglican Catholic Church MDSA, looking to grow its membership in the town. The church’s Australian chapter, in particular, raised funds for this valuable social responsibility project. Through the church, one of Phuthaditjhaba’s more privileged ladies, Elsie Thwani, offered us her double garage for use as a clinic after it became apparent that the municipality was going to charge for the use of its community hall.
We quickly fell under the spell of her warmth and generosity, and were also grateful to helpers Aleta Tshabalala and Christina Moloi, who soon learned to anticipate our needs. In all, we saw 220 patients, prescribed spectacles for 90 of them, and wrote referral letters for another 14, mostly to go on the provincial hospital’s waiting list for state-sponsored cataract operations.

‘Many middle-aged or elderly people simply needed reading glasses,’ says Reach4Sight’s optometrist Keith Reid. But one 21-year-old was so short-sighted that he couldn’t see anything further than five centimetres from his nose. Without spectacles, that’s legally blind; with spectacles much of his struggle is now over.

A bright young girl of nine years, already getting into trouble with her teacher for poor schoolwork, was found to have very high astigmatism. With the right prescription lenses, she was elated to see properly for the first time, making the road ahead for her education much brighter.

The Anglican Catholic Church’s man on the spot was Father David Mpheshia, who provided valuable assistance in setting up the clinic and advertising it to those who might need our services. Ever willing and enthusiastic, he could talk non-stop in English or Sotho, he didn’t mind which, going outside every now and again to do a spot of recruiting for his church.

Phuthaditjhaba is vibey and noisy and busy and colourful, but as elsewhere in the country, unemployment and poverty are a substantial challenge. With Reach4Sight’s help and sponsorship from the Anglican Catholic Church, at least the lives of some of its underprivileged residents will now be a little easier.  

Previous sponsors

Basic Optical

Carl Zeiss Vision
Ebony Optical

Optic Trade Links

Trans Hex Group

Welch Allyn

Lee Daniels