Zaira goes to Africa
Zaira is an optometrist at the Manchester Arndale Centre Vision Express store. On 5th August she will travel to Ethiopia to volunteer her skills as part of the Vision Aid Overseas Professional Volunteer project. During her two weeks she will deliver eye care to disadvantaged communities where there is little or no access to affordable eye care.
Hi! My name is Zaira and I am going to Ethiopia!
Usually you can find me in Manchester Arndale Centre Vision Express as one of the resident Optometrists where I have worked for 4 years – I am now a part of the furniture! But I am off on an adventure to Ethiopia soon to provide vision care to those who simply cannot afford it!
I teach at the University of Bradford [where I also studied] which is where I first heard about Vision Aid Overseas through a colleague and friend of mine, Rebecca Stoner. At first I brushed it off, me in Ethiopia… can you imagine?! I am one of the least likely people you will come across to travel to a place where there is little sanitation and home comforts, not to mention the internet! However, Rebecca persisted and so I did a little research into the charity and discovered the great things that they do! So here I am.
I will be travelling with a team of fantastic volunteers, as part of Vision Aid Overseas to help those who don’t have access to affordable eye care and spectacles. Whether it is a little girl who can’t complete her education because she can’t see the board at school, or grandparents struggling to read bedtime stories because they can’t afford specs, I will hopefully be able to reach as many people in remote villages around Nekemt, Ethiopia in two weeks. Vision Aid Overseas estimates there are around 640 million people – 10% of the world’s population – who don’t have access to eye care. We will be providing free eye tests and spectacles but also teaching at local Universities and Colleges to aid the ophthalmic teaching so that care can be provided long after we have come home!
The only thing stopping me was a small matter of raising £1,500! At first it seemed impossible but through the help of amazing friends, family and colleagues we managed to raise the amount in no time! We had a bake sale but also held a raffle full of awesome prizes that were to be won and, in store and through online donations raised a total of £300!
Now as the time is getting closer to travel I must admit I am slightly nervous. I have had more injections and vaccinations than you could imagine, I feel like a human pincushion! I am really excited to travel out there and be able to make a difference to people’s lives. Living in the UK , many of us are guilty of taking the simplest of things for granted, including eye care. To be able to make a difference to people’s lives is a reason as to why I chose my career, and to be able to do this on a hugely different platform is an amazing opportunity.
I will be back on the 21st August so hopefully I will be able to fill you in on how my trip was and share with you my experiences! If you would like to donate to Vision Aid Overseas, please visit my JustGiving page here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/zairagoestoafrica