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Eye Can See Clearly now... 500 kids get free eye care in St Ann

Published:Saturday | April 25, 2015 | 4:00 AM

ST ANN'S BAY, St Ann:

MORE THAN 500 children, aged three to six, attending six basic schools in St Ann's Bay and its environs, this week, got free eye care through the Eye Can See Clearly mission trip by Canada-based, not-for-profit organisation, Direct Abundance.

Students from Windsor, Silver Grove, Bethel, Calvary Tabernacle, Salvation Army, and Miracle Tabernacle basic schools benefitted from the one-week clinic, held on the premises of Calvary Tabernacle Basic School.

For years, Direct Abundance, through its director Joanne O'Brien, has been sponsoring the Windsor Basic School in St Ann's Bay and it was through the efforts of principal Deborah Reid-Brown that the mission was organised.

"The connection came through Direct Abundance, as Joanne is the sponsor of the Windsor basic school, she organised it after I told her that kids are not usually slow, sometimes they're not seeing clearly," Reid-Brown told Rural Xpress.

"We did a survey and found out the children were not necessarily slow, they just couldn't see, so she organised this. We're only doing children three to six years old and the staff members from each school."

After being told of the situation, O'Brien contacted Amy Sabella-Malone, who she had previously met on Facebook, and after much effort, they were able to make it happen.

Reid-Brown then had the responsibility to liaise with the other schools and do the necessary groundwork in order to ensure the mission would be successful.

A total of 14 medical personnel, consisting of doctors from Canada and opticians from the United States, took on the mission to come to Jamaica, once again, to offer free service.

Both O'Brien and Sabella-Malone had visited Jamaica several times before on similar trips.

"The Eye Can See Clearly mission trip was arranged between myself and Amy Sebella-Malone, who is an optometrist and our optician, and she arranged with a group of optometrists to come down here and to do all the children ages three to six in St Ann's Bay," O'Brien explained.

The children got their eyes tested and those who need glasses will get them in about two months, when the team would then return with custom-made glasses for them.

In the meantime, several of the children who needed reading glasses only were given those. Several were also given sunshades to wear to protect their eyes from the sun.

On the first day, on Monday, Sabella-Malone was pleased with how things were going when Rural Xpress visited.

"It's going really, really well," she said. "The school here has been very helpful and Debra and Joanne have been very helpful."

Asked why she continues to assist, not just Windsor Basic School, but also residents in the community of Windsor, O'Brien said, with a laugh, "Because I'm supposed to."

About the Eye Can See Clearly mission, she explained: "I know a lot of the children here don't have access to the medical care that we have in North America, so we just want to make sure that the children here can see better."

From the look on the faces of the children, especially those wearing sunshades, it was obvious they were happy with the mission.

rural@gleanerjm.com