Published On: Thu, May 3rd, 2018

Lions Club presents another free eye screening project

Lion Wally Havertong - 20180503 HH

PHILIPSBURG – More than 3,400 elementary school children will take part in a massive eye screening exercise organized by the Lions Club from May 14 to 18 at the Belair community center together with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (Vosh), an Omaha, Nebraska-based non-profit organization that will send nineteen doctors and assistants along with three fast screening machines to the island.

The total cost of the project is around $30,000; 80 percent of that amount has been raised through fundraising and donations from local sponsors. Vosh handles the balance of the funding, Davey Woods, chairman of the organizing Lions-committee said on Thursday during a press conference at the Lions Den on Sucker Garden Road where Minister Jorien Wuite (Education) also made an appearance.

A couple of years ago, the Lions launched the eye screening project when Woods was the Lions Club president. The very first project of this kind was brought to the island by the Lions in 2001, senior Lion Wally Havertong said.

Woods emphasized that for children to be able to take part in the eye screening project, they need to bring a consent-form signed by their parents or guardians.

The eye doctors who come to the island to execute the project are paying their airline tickets out of their own pockets, woods said. The doctors and their assistants will arrive on May 12 and 13 on the island.

On Monday, May 14, they will begin with the first screenings bright and early at 7:30 a.m. and continue to around 4 p.m. The team will handle around 700 children per day. Those who need them, will receive glasses on the spot. Children for whom glasses are not immediately available, for instance because of special requirements, will receive them within three weeks; the doctors will buy those prescription glasses in the US, Canada or locally. The screening and all glasses are free of charge for the participating children.

The project, aptly named Eyes for a Brighter Future, was initially scheduled to take place in November of last year but Hurricane Irma made in necessary to move the project into the next year.

Woods has consulted with the ministries of Public Health and Education to make the necessary arrangements – permits for the American doctors to perform the screening, transportation of the school children to the Belair community center and agreements with schools about class schedules.

Minister Wuite and Davey woods - 2018050 HH

Minister Wuite commended the Lions Club for consistently providing care for local school children. “You provide a service to children who may not be able to afford or have adequate access to eye screens and the eye glasses they need,” the minister said.

“Without glasses, students can fall behind and frustrate themselves, their teachers and their parents. With glasses, their school performance improves alongside their confidence.”

Minister Wuite is looking forward to the results of the screening. The Lions will compile a report that will also contain information about undetected challenges.

Lions - Eyes for a brighter future - 20180503 HH

Top photo caption: Lion Wally Havertong. Photo Hilbert Haar.

Mid photo caption: Minister Jorien Wuite and Lions Club past president Davey Woods. Photo Hilbert Haar.

Bottom photo caption: The Lions present at Thursday’s press conference. From left: Committee members Merlyn Schaminee, Alphons Gumbs, Tatiana Arrindell and Wally Havertong; Lions Club President Alison Busby, committee chairman Davey Woods and club secretary Oralie Boirard. Photo Hilbert Haar.