Scouts should do a “good deed” every day and we Trans Ocean sailors should leave the people and places better than we found them. At least this is our claim for the planned long sailing trip.
Therefore we are intensively engaged in how we can put our claim into practice. We will visit islands in the Pacific Ocean which are only very limitedly supplied by the outside world. Very often it is sailors like us who carry out the transport with supplies, mail and spare parts from the larger to the smaller atolls. There is still traditional bartering going on there and we would like to exchange with the people not only fishing tackle, T-shirts, canned food and solar lamps for their fish and fruit as usual.
We have now asked ourselves what the people there could be missing most and came up with glasses. On many islands satellite television has already found its way to the islands, but the optical supply is almost non-existent. Without glasses, life would have been very different for us and I could not write this article now. Should we just buy and give away a large assortment of cheap reading glasses or is there a more professional solution?
We are looking for this solution now. We are not ophthalmologists or opticians and simply giving away the glasses is not an option. So how can we solve the problem of our “incompetence”? The best thing to do is to see what other circumnavigators have done for aid projects on the topic of glasses and what else is available:
Unfortunately, so far we have only come across the well-known circumnavigator Mareike Guhr. We had already spoken to her personally at the Trans Ocean e.V. festive evening in 2017, where she also pointed out her own aid project “Island Child Care”. She also has a cooperation with the H.I.T. Foundation Hamburg, which offers an examination case with electronic testing equipment for visual screening.
The H.I.T. Foundation has been working with sailors for a long time and has conducted training courses and issued examination kits for circumnavigators. However, the focus here is on collecting data from school children, for whom individual glasses are then produced free of charge in Germany and then sent to the schools of the children examined. Here is a short video about it:
This concept doesn’t fit us very well, as we want to make the right glasses for all islanders who need them and then leave for a longer period of time. But we do not exclude a cooperation yet.
For a very long time now, there has been the aid project Eyeglasses Worldwide, where donated eyeglasses are refurbished and then distributed to aid organizations worldwide. Unfortunately we do not fit into this concept. But we will now hand over the old glasses, which we took out of our drawers for the contribution photo, to one of the 6000 collection points of the guild opticians or to Apollo. There are of course also possibilities to hand in the old glasses at other providers like Fielmann, my-Spexx and so on and help for free.
And now the one-dollar glasses come into play. During our research we also came across the OneDollarGlasses.org., which would certainly fit our project very well. It was founded in 2012 by the teacher Martin Aufmuth and so far more than 170,000 people have been provided with one-dollar glasses. Instead of buying reading glasses, we would want to buy a suitcase there to make glasses for children and adults.
Ingo is very skilled in his craft and would also participate in an appropriate training course for the production of the glasses next year. We would also take part in a training to determine the strength of vision together, if there is any short training for people like us. Normally a special training there lasts up to one year and the quality standards are very high there.
We wrote to the association last week and we are already looking forward to the answer. If the feedback is positive, we would of course try to inspire even more circumnavigators of the world with such a cooperation. In this way, even the people on the most remote islands of Oceania would be able to see better with the one-dollar glasses and thus have a better future.
The Film follows: OneDollarGlasses – Song
Global Vision 2020
In addition to these impressive German projects, I have also found this American project so far. Global Vision 2020 was founded by Kevin White, who invented the simple test glasses USee™ for eye testing. Once the required lens thickness has been determined, the lenses are clicked into a standard plastic spectacle frame. These glasses cost about 5 US dollars to produce and have been supplied to over 36,000 people in 38 countries from 2015 to the present.
This concept seems to us to be even more suitable for our project and therefore a possible alternative if we should not meet the criteria of the One-Dollar-Verein e.V. If we could, we would buy there the USee™ test glasses, 200 frames and a large set of lenses. An online training or a webinar would certainly be a possible minimum requirement. One request will be sent out today.
Global Vision also has a short introduction film:
Of course, we would try to check in with our supplied people in the Pacific every few years for follow-up. Furthermore we would also try to inspire more blue water sailors from our Eyeglass Aid Project Oceania, who could then also guarantee the sustainability of the project. In any case, we are aware of our responsibility for the people whom we would like to provide with eyeglasses.
Anyone who has experienced how badly they have seen without glasses should also be provided with suitable glasses on an ongoing basis. We have already successfully completed various projects in our lives and we are consciously facing this new additional challenge.
If at some point we are no longer able or willing to do so, we would try to give a local with technical talent the opportunity to start a business by providing our equipment for examination and spectacle production free of charge. Of course after consultation with the One Dollar Glasses Association or Global Vision 2020.
Who has further hints or tips for our planned eyeglass aid project Oceania?
PS: Oceania is the name for the island world of the Pacific Ocean north and east of the continent Australia. The more than 7500 islands together cover a land area of 397,000 square kilometres and extend over a sea area of about 70 million square kilometres. About 2100 of the islands are inhabited. 16.5 million people live there. Together with Australia, Oceania forms the continental Greater Region. Source: Wikipedia