According to the World Health Organisation, 246 million people are estimated to have low vision worldwide and about 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in developing countries. Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment, and a simple pair of spectacles can help; it is instant gratification with life-changing results.
For those living in urban areas, fixing short-sightedness is easy: pop into a local chemist, select a pair of ‘readers’, use the easy-to-use eye-test chart and voila – you can see clearly again! But for hundreds of thousands of people living in rural communities far from towns and clinics, this is not possible and failing sight is a major disability.
Started by the late Mashozi (Gill) Holgate during our round-the-world 23° 27’ Tropic of Capricorn expedition and in keeping with our theme of ‘using adventure to improve lives’, the Mashozi’s Rite to Sight campaign supplies poor-sighted, mostly elderly people in remote areas with reading glasses. It just takes a few minutes to conduct an eye test and find the right strength of spectacles, but the instant gratitude from Rite to Sight recipients and the immediate difference it makes in their lives is always heart-warming.
“A simple pair of reading glasses – something we so take for granted. But for many in remote parts of Africa, these are unavailable or unaffordable. This is my favourite project that instantly improves the recipients’ quality of life.”
Since the inception of the Mashozi’s Rite to Sight Campaign, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation has distributed over 218,700 pairs of spectacles. In addition, in 2019 we partnered with the non-profit medical association Doctors For Life and provided life-changing cataract operations to hundreds of people living in the vast and remote Zambezi River Delta in Mozambique.
Now, tens of thousands of poor-sighted people can thread a needle, do handicraft, weave a mat or basket, bait a fishing hook, read the Bible, Koran or newspaper, see messages from loved ones on their cell phones and have the ‘Rite to Sight’!