Project Ecuador

Project Ecuador
Giving Hope and a Future

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Learning to wear glasses

Whenever I check the vision of children around here for the first time, I am always amazed that there are children with very poor sight, now aged 11 or 12, who do not have glasses. Some of these children do not even realise that they could see better. Others have noticed, but no one has taken them for a vision check or tried to help them. A few have been given glasses, but do not wear them.

The lack of sight has a profound effect on their studies. Often, they are not sitting near the front of the class, even though they cannot see what is written on the board. Those with short sight develop lazy eyes, or squints, with their vision worsening over time. One girl I met had been taken for glasses, but refused to wear them, because she was the only person in a school of 100 pupils with glasses, and the others laughed at her and called her "granny". Her vision had become so bad her eyes were permanently half closed, and the lashes were touching her eyeballs. She now needed surgery to be able to rescue the situation.

Those who have "lazy eyes" can have their vision corrected through the use of glasses and patching. Their vision can improve greatly. But they need the help before the age of 12. The mother of one of the children I gave glasses to this month never had glasses herself. One of her eyes is now permanently deviated and almost completely blind.

The first time I gave glasses to the children in the Garcia Moreno school there were 2 girls with lazy eyes. A couple of months later the teacher told me I shouldn´t waste my money on those children as they did not like to wear the spectacles. The real problem was that these children feel ridiculed when they wear them. They, their parents and their teacher did not understand the long-term consequences of not wearing them. Their reluctance to accept help was not a call to give up, but rather to provide more education and support.

Therefore, this time, when I recently gave glasses to 13 of the mostly older sponsored children for the first time, I did so along with some fun and games. I gave them out at the club meeting. All those receiving glasses had to out them on in front of the others. The girls with good sight tried them on and saw what it is like to have blurred vision. We played some blindfold games together. All the girls made some card glasses and I took photos of each of the girls wearing their glasses, be they real or fun.

I then printed the photographs and each girl had to decorate the frame with positive words about themselves, to improve their self-esteem. I also sent home reward charts for the mums to sign each day that the child wears the glasses, with the promise of a reward if they wear them for a month. Hopefully by then they will be so used to wearing them, the embarrassment will have worn off.

Certainly so far it seems to be working. The children in the primary schools now have their glasses on whenever I visit. The sponsored children have them on when I bump into them in the village, and one who was very reluctant to wear them, apart from when actually studying,  has now changed her Facebook profile picture to one where she is wearing her specs - and very good she looks too!

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