One billion is the estimated number of people with poor vision in rural communities around the world who don't have access to eyecare services. But RPCV Nancy Wallace of Annapolis, Maryland is involved in an innovative enterprise to address the challenge.
It all began in Liberia, where Nancy served as a Peace Corps Response volunteer from 2008 - 2009. A friend connected her with Kevin White, the Executive Director of Global Vision 2020, an international organization working to prevent avoidable blindness. One of the organization's projects involves the distribution of self-adjusting eyeglasses. The glasses are designed to allow users to turn a dial on the side of each lens to correct their own vision in regions that do not have access to eye care professionals.
With the hope that glasses could be distributed through existing local networks, Nancy jumped at the invitation when White asked her if a pilot project could be launched at the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute. In September, a training was held for 40 volunteers to distribute glasses. An initial scanning of 1,200 teachers, students and market women revealed that 700 were in need of (and received) glasses to correct their vision.
Featured above with NPCA Advocacy Coordinator Jonathan Pearson (l) and Tom Jacobs (r), host of the annual Maryland RPCV summer picnic, Nancy attended the gathering to share the experience of trying on the spectacles and urge fellow RPCVs to help with the initiative. "It's incredible to watch", she says. "For people in other countries who don't even know they need glasses, and to see their reaction when the world around them comes into focus. It's exciting!"