Vision aid overseas
13 November 2013
Two UK optometry students have successfully completed a coveted placement in Zambia with international development charity Vision Aid Overseas, thanks to a bursary scheme set up by Irvine Aitchison, one of the founders of Dollond & Aitchison.
Working alongside qualified optometrists, Ciara Hankin, 23, and Janaka Sasitharan, 26, spent their time providing much-needed outreach services in rural local communities, including training local nurses and dispensing glasses to patients. Ciara is currently studying at Cardiff University, while Janaka is based at City University in London.
The Irvine Aitchison Memorial Fund (IAMF) was set up in 1997 specifically to promote optical education opportunities, and gives second-year optometry students the chance to volunteer with Vision Aid Overseas, enabling them to experience eye care work in developing countries, encourage their team building skills and increase their optical knowledge.
Since it was established, more than 36 students have benefited from the IAMF bursary, while last year (2012), 41 students applied to the scheme – the highest number yet.
Speaking of her experience, Ciara said: "After my two weeks in Zambia, I can now appreciate just how valuable our optical services are here in the UK. I saw pathology not seen at home, gained a better understanding of treatments and developed my dispensing skills – if you can give somebody the correct glasses in 40 degree heat without a shared language, you can do it anywhere."
Janaka added: "Working with Vision Aid Overseas has been a wonderful experience. My project lasted two weeks, with ten days working in different villages across Zambia, and it was a great opportunity to share skills in a completely new and different environment, to people who need it most. "
Emma Allen or Francesca Collin at Aneela Rose PR