According to the World Health Organisation, 246 million people are estimated to have low vision worldwide and about 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in developing countries. Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment and a simple pair of spectacles can help – it is instant gratification with life-changing results.
For those living in urban areas, fixing short-sightedness is easy: pop into a local chemist, select a pair of ‘readers’, use the easy-to-use eye-test chart and voila – you can see clearly again! But for hundreds of thousands of people living in rural communities far from towns and clinics, this is not possible and failing sight is a major disability.
Started by Mashozi (Gill) Holgate during the 23° 27’ Tropic of Capricorn expedition and in keeping with ‘using adventure to improve lives’, the Mashozi’s Rite to Sight campaign supplies poor-sighted, mostly elderly people in remote areas with reading glasses. It just takes a few minutes to conduct an eye test and find the right strength of spectacles, but the instant gratitude from the Rite to Sight recipients and the immediate difference it makes in their lives is always heart-warming.
Since the inception of the Mashozi’s Rite to Sight Campaign, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation has distributed over 201,000 pairs of spectacles. Now, tens of thousands of poor-sighted people can thread a needle, do handicraft, weave a mat or basket, bait a fishing hook, read the Bible, Koran or newspaper, see messages on their cell phones and have the ‘Rite to Sight’!
“What a great programme. It’s exactly what’s needed by most poor-sighted, rural people – keep it up!” Dr Jonathan Pons, Swaziland’s renowned eye doctor.