A Bath-optician helped give an African schoolboy another chance at education with a life-changing pair of glasses. Optometrist Elinor Jones first met 17-year-old Grema back in March 2017 when she led a trip to Zambia. The five-strong team set out on the mission to provide much-needed eye care services to rural areas, including Mpika in the northern Muchinga province of Zambia – where there is only one eye care professional.
Gambia had walked five miles to meet the team and he had stopped going to school because of his eyesight, which was so bad his family thought he was blind. But Elinor, who works at the Westgate Street Specsavers branch, and her team found out he just needed a strong pair of glasses and helped set up the new specs. Elinor said: “We saw patients who had struggled for a long time because of their inability to see clearly. “Grema travelled five miles by foot to come see us. He had stopped going to school many years ago and his family thought he was blind. “It turned out that he just needed very strong glasses; a prescription of greater than -10.00.” “It was heartbreaking to think that something as simple as an eye test and a pair of glasses, something so readily available to us in the UK and something we take for granted, could change his life," she added.
The team saw over 900 patients who had been struggling to see. “The whole experience was life-changing,” said Elinor. “It was challenging at times, pushing my boundaries and making me step out of my comfort zone, but it was worth it for the sense of achievement and fulfilment, knowing you have helped make a difference. “The Zambian people, with their warm hearts and kind natures, made it all the more rewarding.”
Grema wearing his new glasses, pictured with Brenda, an ophthalmic nurse based in Mpika