Eyeglass Clinic


In fall 2008, Raima Amin and I put our heads together. As premedical students and EWB volunteers, we wanted to create a new project that would complement EWB’s sanitation and hygiene projects while providing more opportunities for students in the pre-health professions to find meaningful volunteer work within EWB at MSU. Neither Raima nor I had traveled to Kenya before, but from our discussions with Ronald Omyonga and past project managers, we knew that Kenyan students faced many other health impediments to their education besides water-borne diseases. Around the same time, Dr. James Hoyne, a physician who works in Ecuador through the Tandana Foundation, visited Raima’s medical Spanish course. Later, we met with him and he told us about his low-cost, high-impact eye clinics. Soon after that, we met Dr. Erich Pessl, a family medicine physician based out of Bozeman. We asked him whether he might be interested in volunteering with us in Kenya, and to our astonishment, he said yes. That’s how the EWB Eye Clinics were born.

Once we gained our initial momentum, everything else fell into place. The Bozeman Lions Club donated over 300 pairs of glasses to EWB at MSU for our first eyeglasses clinic. Advanced Eyecare Associates of Bozeman read and labeled the prescriptions of the frames for us. Dr. Patricia Cosgrove of Medical Eye Specialists and Dr. Pessl, her husband, helped us plan the clinic and prepare for any obstacles we might face. My team of five carried the glasses with us to Kenya in July 2009.

Once our team arrived in western Kenya, Dr. Pessl and I collaborated with our Kenyan EWB partners, the government-run Khwisero Health Centre, the public health officer and teachers to prepare for the one-day clinic at Ebukwala Primary School. For the equivalent of $20 USD we hired Walter Omwakwe, a local optometrist. On July 13th, 2009 over 300 students at Ebukwala Primary School received free eye screenings. Ebukwala Primary School is a magnate school for special needs students in Khwisero, many of whom have “low vision.” That day, over 75 students walked away with glasses, and a new found ability to see the board and read their textbooks. The word spread quickly, and our Kenyan counterparts clamored for more.

Recent Implementation

Last summer 2010 we conducted two more eyeglasses clinics in Khwisero- one again at Ebukwala Primary School and one at Ekatsombero PS. We screened over 500 students and provided over 200 pairs of glasses, thanks to our volunteers, our physician-mentors, and our EWB partners in Kenya, the Bozeman Lions Club and Advances Eyecare Associates.

Getting Involved

*If you are interested in helping out with future eyeglasses clinics please do not hesitate to contact Molly at moc.liamg|nameggurbm#moc.liamg|nameggurbm. I would love to talk to you!!!* eyeglass clinic