Man, daughter take five rides from Trelawny to St Ann to eye clinic
Gleaner Writer, GRANVILLE, Trelawny:
LEIGHTON CAMERON is an avid reader. Oftentimes he takes just a day to read a novel. Lately, though, the man who hails from Granville district in Trelawny, has been having double vision, which has severely curtailed his reading habit.
His seven-year-old daughter, Nia, who attends Granville Primary, has drawn the attention of her teacher. Nia, who is in grade two, has difficulty reading sometimes, not because of a lack of ability but because of what seemed to have been problems with her eyes, as she kept squinting a lot whenever she was asked to read. The teacher recommended to Cameron that he get her eyes checked.
Visiting an optician is costly, even more so, purchasing a pair of glasses. Not to mention two. Cameron was in a quandary. He might be able to delay getting his eyes checked, but his daughter's were of paramount importance.
As fate would have it, The Gleaner carried a story on September 29, highlighting Sandals Foundation and Great Shape iCare's free eye-clinics in Westmoreland and St Ann during October.
On October 16, Cameron and his daughter arrived at the Eltham Community Centre in St Ann, where the St Ann leg of the clinic was being held.
"I come to check out my eyes and my daughter's eyes," Cameron responded to enquiries. "I've been getting double vision lately and I can't see to read anymore. I used to take just one day to read a novel."
About his daughter, Cameron said: "The teacher said that she's having problems reading and recommended I get her eyes checked. I can't afford glasses, so when I saw this in the paper, I made sure I got here."
Cameron said he left his home in Granville at about eight o'clock that morning and took a taxi to Falmouth. However, when he got to the bus park to get a ride to Ocho Rios all the buses were empty. Not wanting to be late, he decided to go by taxi.
"So I took another taxi, this time from Falmouth to Discovery Bay, then one to St Ann's Bay, then one to Ochi and then one up here (Eltham)," he explained. He reached the clinic around 11 o'clock.
"I need to read some more and my daughter, yuh know how it go. If it wen deh ah town, mi wud haffi reach. Yuh understand mi? A suh it set."
Cameron had to join a long line and waited for a period of time, but once the process started it was smooth sailing.
After all the checks were done, both dad and daughter were fitted with reading glasses and both were able to read comfortably. And they even got sunshades too!
Nia was quiet throughout the proceedings, but once they reached the table with the shades, she got all excited and donned a pair which she kept on after that.
Cameron explained that he could hardly keep his pair of shades at home because Nia would constantly want to wear them. Now that she has her own, he will find some peace where that is concerned.
"I got through, finally, and I'm very happy because I was in doubt at first that I wouldn't be able to reach here," an elated Cameron later told The Gleaner. "So I'm glad I came. And the process was real fast too. So I'm really happy I came. My daughter got glasses and sunglasses, so did I, so I'm thankful."
Cameron said he expects that Nia's problems at school will now be over.
OTHERS TRAVEL FROM AFAR
Cameron and his daughter weren't the only ones to travel from afar to access the service. According to Great Shape eye care programme director, Steven Stern, two ladies from Westmoreland who weren't able to access service in that parish, travelled to St Ann on Tuesday.
"They came all the way from Grange Hill because they waited two days and couldn't get in. So they drove here from Grange Hill to get their eyes checked. They got through," Stern said.
When The Gleaner reached the location, they had already departed.
Stern, in the meantime, said his team would see around 1,500 persons in St Ann on this trip. After working in Westmoreland the previous week, the team of 39 volunteers, comprising five doctors, three nurses and several opticians travelled to St Ann for yet another week of free optical care.
"We brought over 16,000 pairs of glasses to hand out over the two weeks. Last week, we saw about 1200 people."
Great Shape has been contributing to Jamaica's health care for over two decades.
"We've been doing this since 1988. This is the 10th year of the dental programme, 1,000 Smiles. It's the fifth year of the literacy programme, Super Kids and it's the fourth year of the eye-care programme," Stern explained.
He had kind words for Sandals.
"Sandals is amazing to us, we couldn't have done it without their support. They give us logistic support, transportation, food, lodging, and all of this allows us to focus on the work."
Sandals regional public relations manager Lyndsay Isaacs, in turn, praised the contribution of the Great Shape volunteers.
Said Isaacs: "These guys are great humanitarians, I mean, we couldn't have done it without them, they have a big heart and people are very grateful and happy to be here - elders, children, everyone. It's an amazing feeling, everybody's happy to be here."