Sunderland optician on aid trip to Ethiopia

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A WEARSIDE optician travelled thousands of miles to help poverty stricken families in Africa.

Robin Stuart, store director and optometrist at Specsavers, in The Galleries, Washington, travelled more than 7,000 miles to the town of Butajira, in Ethiopia, with the charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO).

During the trip, his second to the country, Robin spent a week carrying out eye examinations.

He also spent a week with the VAO team in the Menelik II Hospital in Addis Ababa teaching first year ophthalmology students how to carry out eye tests.

Robin said it was the first time many of his patients had undergone optical treatment.

“Being an optometrist is a fantastic skill so taking part in this project was and wonderful opportunity,” he said.

“The real pleasure is when the patients put on the spectacles and are able to see clearly for the very first time.

“All of the people I met were extremely grateful and thankful.

“It was an absolute pleasure working with them.”

VAO works closely with other charitable organisations to train eye care workers, establish vision centres and develop sustainable eye care services in its partner countries.

Founded in 1985 by UK optometrists and dispensing opticians, it aims to fight poverty by transforming access to eye care. In its 27 years of operation, VAO has helped more than one million people.

“VAO is providing an excellent solution for people’s unwanted spectacles and I am so thankful to everyone who has donated old glasses so far,” said Robin.

“If anyone can donate spectacles lying in a drawer please bring them in to us at the Specsavers store and we’ll donate them to VAO for this life changing cause.

“It was great to assist those in need and I look forward to future volunteering opportunities.”

For more information about VAO or to make a donation, visit: www.visionaidoverseas.org

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