Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Overseas Aid - Kodak Lens and Vision Aid launch spectacle project

Second Sight initiative will target local communities to recycle glasses for use in the developing world, writes Anita Pati.

Vision Aid Overseas has hooked up with the national chain of opticians Kodak Lens Vision Centres to launch its Second Sight Project, which aims to provide spectacles to 200 million people in the developing world.

The initiative is Vision Aid's first co-ordinated collection and fundraising campaign, according to deputy director Jeremy Jalie. "Kodak approached us to help with our spectacle recycling, but I said it would be more effective if we took the opportunity to approach spectacle donors and fundraise," said Jalie.

All 32 participating Kodak Lens centres will distribute materials such as leaflets and collection envelopes, with the aim of encouraging their local communities to give old spectacles together with a £1 donation.

Jalie said Vision Aid Overseas had a backlog of spectacles collected from organisations such as Rotary Clubs, but needed the funds to distribute them. He expects the partnership to raise at least £10,000, given the number of spectacles currently donated, but hopes that fundraising activities can be developed further in the future.

Vision Aid Overseas has also engaged the community by enlisting the help of inmates from six prisons across the country who have been trained to sort, clean, fix and grade the lenses using an automatic meter. These spectacles will be sent back to the charity's Crawley office, from where they will be distributed.

Vision Aid volunteer optometrists will travel to developing countries to carry out professional eye examinations and fit the spectacles to as close a prescription match as possible.

The charity currently sends 100 opticians per year to 23 countries to make sure there are always opticians in the field, but the Second Sight Project will focus on Malawi, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Ghana.

Commenting on his trip to Burkina Faso last year, optometrist Minaz Mamdani from the Kodak Lens centre in Bishop's Stortford said: "It was a humbling experience to spend 15 minutes providing recycled glasses that would make such a difference to people's lives." Mamdani will volunteer again this year in Uganda.

Nicky Mills, retail marketing manager at Kodak Lens, said the company chose Vision Aid as its first charity partnership because it offered a relevant fit. "In Kodak we have a powerful brand that the public trusts," she said. "We have linked up with another trusted name in Vision Aid Overseas."

She said that the Kodak lens centres provided ideal local points for the public to take their glasses to, and added that the opticians should be able to capitalise on the international status of the Kodak brand.

anita.pati@haynet.com

KEY POINTS

- Vision Aid Overseas has linked up with Kodak Lens Vision Centres nationwide to launch its Second Sight Project

- The initiative is the charity's first co-ordinated collection and fundraising campaign and should raise at least £10,000

- All 32 participating Kodak Lens centres will encourage their local communities to hand in old spectacles together with a £1 donation

- Prisoners will help by sorting, cleaning and grading the lenses

- Volunteer optometrists will travel to developing countries to carry out professional eye examinations.

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