4 mins read | Friends of Pala

Everyone meet: Chipo Mweemba

Chipo Lead Optometrist Ambassador

“I take every day I go to work as an opportunity to better someone’s life and the community by being the agent that removes the barrier of poor eyesight and opens up people to a better world.”

Chipo Mweemba was born in Mungu, Zambia in 1990 and is now ensuring the Chinsali district is being empowered through the gift of good eyesight as Lead Optometrist and District Eye Coordinator.

Optometrist performing eyesight examination in Zambia

Chipo is a truly inspiring individual. Growing up under extreme pressure, rearing cattle alongside studies – all without shoes until the fourth grade – Chipo has a real fighting spirit and determination to succeed, no matter the hurdle, and help others do the same.

After excelling in sciences at school, Chipo went to work as a mechanic with his father – before being encouraged to attend university by a customer. The admissions assistant suggested Chipo take the new Optometry course. From here, Chipo graduated top of his class intake and started volunteering with Vision Action (Pala’s charity partner) straight away.

Starting at the Chainama eye clinic on a one-year placement, Chipo’s passion for optometry grew as he started to understand how much he could impact a community. With the support of Vision Action funding, he was able to change people’s lives with a pair of affordable spectacles.

Chinsali vision centre for better eyesight

At this point in Chipo’s journey, our paths cross. Deployed to the Chinsali Vision Centre, which was built and equipped by Pala funding and VAO rollout, he started serving as Lead Optometrist and has progressed to District Eye Coordinator.

Chinsali has been one of Pala’s largest, and most successful social impact projects, and that is not without huge thanks for Chipo stepping up to the challenge with us and taking so much pride in serving his community. To date he has attended over 20,000 people, dispensed over 5000 spectacles and restored the eyesight of just as many people.

A District Eye Coordinators’ responsibilities stretch far and wide. Screening patients, refracting for spectacles, mentoring and helping the dispensing technicians, as well as planning and budgeting for eye care services in the district.

Chinsali vision centre and optometry team

But Chipo’s ambitions don’t stop there. He wants to help show people and policymakers the devastating effects of poor eyesight or the complete loss of it – and drum up the support and resources required to stop this from being a barrier for anyone.

“Often times people and policymakers only realise the importance of eyesight when they lose sight or a close family member loses it. We do not need to see thousands or millions of people lose sight before we can act.”

From the outset, Chipo’s life has geared him up to serve the greater good, by helping people living a limited life, simply because they need a pair of glasses.

“It is this background that drives my love for humanity, no one in my community should have bad eyesight while I am here. Am striving each day to reach out to as many as I can. To a point that at least 90% of the population would have had an eye test.”

Women receiving eyesight test in Zambia

In his spare time, Chipo likes to adventure in the great outdoors and connect with nature to tap into ‘limitless thoughts’. He tends to keep a good book on the go too, so as you can imagine, we get on really well!

We’re very much looking forward to gathering and sharing more stories from Chipo and bringing to life the change that you’ve helped create in Chinsali Zambia by supporting Pala and VAO.

Learn about our next vision centre project, where we aim to replicate the success of Chipo’s centre.