Free specs for 3 000  people The Council for the Blind carried out an outreach programme at Holy Trinity church in Cowdray Park yesterday.

Laurel Murangaridzirayi, [email protected]

Bulawayo-headquartered Council for the Blind in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and other partners has rolled out a programme that will see between 2 500 and 3 000 people with eyesight problems  receiving free eye health check and treatment.

The five-day health expo, which started on Tuesday until Saturday, is targeting marginalised communities. OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation, an international charity organisation, is offering free glasses under the programme.

The health expo is being held in Cowdray Park suburb.

The event is also a build-up to the World Sight Day commemorations, an annual awareness day that is observed on the second Thursday of October every year. World Sight Day aims to focus global attention on blindness, vision impairment, and eye care.

One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Ms Tumeliso Mazhambe (47) from Cowdray Park could not hide her joy as she showed off her pair of glasses.

“I received my pair of spectacles after going through the eye screening process. This programme is quite really helpful because, for years, I could not afford to buy glasses despite having gone through the screening process,” she said.

Another beneficiary, Mr Thapela Sibanda, said he recently went through the eye screening process before he was referred to Mpilo Central Hospital.

“I have done all the processes that are necessary and they have referred me to Mpilo Central Hospital for treatment. I am glad this programme came at the right time because I was facing financial challenges in terms of accessing glasses,” he said.

Ms Margret Gumbo (72) said: “I came here because I was tipped by a neighbour who had received treatment during this health expo. I came in the morning and the queue is moving very fast.”

Speaking during the event, the Council for the Blind head of programmes, Ms Busisiwe Mzyece said the health expo is mostly targeting patients who were unable to access their services.

 “As Council for the Blind, we are helping the marginalised communities. We have noted that even if we offer our glasses at a low cost, they are still beyond the reach of many and that is why we decided to partner with One Sight Foundation Essilar Luxottica Foundation under this programme,” she said.

“We are targeting everyone from school children, teachers, workers, and the generality of citizens. The good thing about this programme is that it is happening days before World Sight Day and this year’s theme is ‘Love Your Eyes at Work,’” she said.

“We chose Cowdray Park because of the population. We were also looking for a high-volume site that would accommodate as many people as possible, and the screening is open to everyone, until this Saturday at 1PM,” said Ms Mzyece.

Council for the Blind’s strategic information expert, Mr Prosper Mararike said they are receiving an overwhelming number of people in need of their services.

“The attendance is overwhelming as of yesterday (Tuesday) we saw more than 250 patients coming and we expect more as the message continues to spread across the city,” he said.

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