July 2010 Huntingdon
hunting1Driving through the communities along the borders of the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga is slow going because the roads are narrow and sometimes winding, and you constantly need to be on the lookout for goats and cows and chickens, not to mention small children.

Reach4Sight’s destination in July 2010 was a few kilometres outside Paul Kruger gate. We took a sand road and came to a T-junction. To the right we would have entered the
privileged world of exclusive game lodges at
Sabi Sands and Mala-Mala. Our route lay lefthunting3,
however, to the small, dirt-poor village of mud-and-thatch huts at Huntingdon, where there isn't even a water supply.

Despite its disadvantages, there’s a sewing circle and a tiny pre-school in the small settlement. This became Reach4Sight’s clinic, while the children had their play activities outside in the sand. Slender and elegant in bright cerise skirt and turban she made herself, teacher Sibongile Khoza and her colleague Olga Sibuyi do the best they can for some 40 little ones with a few posters, some building blocks and bright plastic tables. But the counterpoint always remains the stinky long-drop toilets, the water that has to be brought in litre by litre and carefully conserved, the hopelessness of poverty always just a whisper away.

Many old people came to the makeshift clinic in the hope of a reprieve from blindness and it was heartbreaking to have to dash their small hopes. One 64-year-old woman was blind from long-term untreated glaucoma, by then an irreversible condition. The waiting lists at provincial hospitals for state-sponsored cataract operations are long and unlikely to accept people already in their mid-80s or 90s. Of the 85 patients we saw ­ – including nearly 40 pre-school and primary school children – we were able to refer seven and provide spectacles for 16.

Special thanks to teachers Sibongile and Olga; our two willing young helpers and translators, Eddie Sibuyi and Sandrew Mthombeni; Carl Lourens at Skukuza who acted as go-between to set the clinic in motion; and private donors Rudi and Vicki Leitner, who sponsored the clinic.

Previous sponsors

Basic Optical

Carl Zeiss Vision
Ebony Optical

Optic Trade Links

Trans Hex Group

Welch Allyn

Lee Daniels