Restoring vision and dreams: Emmanuel Chambo
In 2016, Pala and our customers (yes, that’s you) funded the building and equipping of Chinsali Vision Centre in Zambia alongside our charity partner, and expert in delivering affordable eye care to rural communities, Vision Action.
Chinsali eye hospital has been successfully doing its thing by restoring vision for 6 years now. We’ve been lucky enough to stay in touch with lead optometrist Chipo Mweemba who continues to bring us good news stories from the ground – keeping us connected to the long-term transformation the Pala community can play a big part in.
To learn about our latest project, and how you can help replicate the success of Chinsali, keep reading to the end of this wonderful story.
A student in need of support
Today, we’d like you to meet Emmanuel Chambo, a 13-year-old school student from Mwika, Zambia.
Emmanuel made the 30 kilometre trip from his village Mwika to the Chinsali Vision Centre with his mother after learning about the affordable service and spectacles available at Chinsali eye hospital.
A keen student, but falling behind his classmates considerably, Emmanuel has been struggling to read the board, even when sitting in the front row. He often spent time away from the classroom copying his friend’s notes due to how blurry his vision was. These reports were becoming an increasing concern to Emmanuel’s mother, as he is due to take his 9th-grade exams soon, which could determine the prosperity of his future.
An optometrist ready to help
Chipo tells us that it’s quite common in rural areas of Africa for there to be mistrust and disbelief of poor eyesight – especially in young people. This hinders communities from accessing eye care. The main reasons Chipo mentions are:
- there’s a myth that once you start wearing prescription glasses, your eyes will be damaged or get worse.
- children are not supposed to put on prescription glasses because they may become blind by the time they become adults.
- lenses are very expensive, it’s therefore only an option for the rich.
Chipo examined Emmanuel’s eyesight, and to his mother’s surprise, Emmanuel was extremely short-sighted and could only read the largest letter from a distance without glasses.
Thanks to the expert ongoing support from VAO, Emmanuel was able to pick a pair of prescription glasses, have the correct lenses fitted and head home with them the same day – saving the family another 60 kilometre round trip to the opticians to collect them.
“Emmanuel walked out of the clinic with his spectacles ready to chase his dreams.”
– Chipo Mweemba
Not only will Emmanuel be able to complete school successfully, he’ll be able to go on to higher education and possibly even become an eye specialist himself one day.
Being able to dispense spectacles at an affordable price at the Chinsali Vision Centre has been transformative for its surrounding communities. For example,
Chinsali Milestones include:
- 11,722 people screened (47% male, 53% female)
- 4564 prescriptions given
- 5219 pairs of glasses issued (50% to women and girls)
- 1347 pairs of glasses made and distributed to local school children
Pala’s customers raised the funds to build and equip this facility, it simply wouldn’t exist without your support. So now it’s rocking and rolling, we’re on a mission to replicate its success in a new location that’s in serious need of resources.
Sierra Leone is a nation with only 5 optometrists for a population of 7 million people – we need your help to turn that around.
Learn more about supporting the Sierra Leone Vision Centre project here.