Mpilonhle hosted the the 40 members of the OneSight vision charity from 7-16 of February 2012.
This was the fourth visit of the OneSight team to Mpilonhle and to the Umkhanyakude District. Clinics were held at four different sites for two days each. Sites included very rural locations, where access is difficult but where the need is great, and also in urban Mtubatuba where access is easier.
The 40 member OneSight team came from eight countries – Australia, New Zealand, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Poland and the United States. They included optometrists as well as all the technical staff required to make prescription glasses on the sport for those who need them. They were assisted by 60 Mpilonhle staff, 15 staff from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health crucially including optometrists and nurses, more than 30 community volunteers, and 24 volunteers from the United States Peace Corps.
Unlike the three previous visits, where clinics were held in schools, the clinics this time were located in community halls. The usual challenges – uncertain access to electricity and water, lack of hygienic toilets – where present this time as well. The clinic that we thought would be most certain to have water – that in Mtubatuba – had its water shut down then a leak in the municipal system required repair and a two-day shut down of the water supply on the same days that our clinic operated.
But if there is a will there is a way, and we were able to provide care to 6,392 persons. 382 persons received bifocal glasses, 172 persons received glasses for distance vision, 1241 reading glasses, and 4127 sunglasses. 473 patients were referred for follow-up to Department of Health Clinics, primarily for glaucoma and cataracts.
Although it it is intense eight days when OneSight visits, it is a very productive one, and an event that is much appreciated by the community as it provides vision screening and glasses to many persons who would otherwise not get these services. The appreciate can be seen in the smiles of those who can now see clearly when they couldn’t before.