So Others May See Inc. (SOMS) in collaboration with Standard Chartered Bank, the Vision2020 Secretariat in the Ministry of Health, and the District Health Services Office in Galle, is launching a programme to provide free, new, custom-made spectacles to school children in the Galle District who cannot afford to purchase these on their own.
The first phase of the programme will run through September, ahead of World Sight Day 2011 which falls on 13 October, and will target providing assistance to some 400 to 500 school children.
“The Galle District was selected since there has not been a formal programme implemented here previously,” said Ashanthi Mathai, Founder and President of SOMS. “We are very grateful to Standard Chartered Bank for providing the financial sponsorship that is enabling this initiative.”
“We are very pleased to partner with SOMS and bring a programme to the Galle District,” said Anirvan Ghosh Dastidar, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank.
“Standard Chartered is firmly committed to addressing curable and preventable blindness at a global level and to have as broad a reach within local communities as possible.” Sanjeewani De Silva, Head of Corporate Affairs, reiterating Standard Chartered’s commitment to the cause added, “We are also concerned that we fund initiatives that are done with care, and we are happy that SOMS works with the local MOH offices to ensure there is a follow up process in place so that this is not merely a one-time giving of a pair of spectacles but is done with a longer-term outlook and is a more sustainable effort.”
SOMS will be working with the Galle School Medical Officer and local schools to identify children who have been pre-screened to date as well as those who are yet to be screened, and, will arrange for students to be tested and issued prescriptions.
This process will take place throughout September. “It’s great to be part of such a project,” says SOMS Programme Officer Chamara Ekanayaka whose home town is Galle. “There is quite a large unmet need in certain areas of the district which is unfortunate.”
In addition to the programme for school children, SOMS and Standard Chartered Bank are planning to conduct one-day eye clinics for people of all ages in Ambalangoda and Baddegama in early October in coordination with the district health office and the local MOH offices to issue new, custom-fit spectacles to needy individuals.