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The First Optometrists

Posted 13 November 2011 by in Multimedia, Photography

Joel de Melo Bambamba and Suzete Guina are studying to become two of Mozambique’s first optometrists. After a series of civil wars left their country one of the poorest in the world, the population of almost 24 million is just beginning to recover. Yet, there are zero optometrists in Mozambique, and poverty and blindness are inextricable.

The Mozambique Eyecare Project aims to provide a sustainable solution to the problem of avoidable blindness through optometric education. There are 56 students enrolled in the project, thanks to a partnership between the Dublin Institute of Technology, Lúrio Univeristy in Mozambique and the International Centre for Eyecare Education.

This past spring, we spent two weeks in Mozambique to tell the story of Joel and Suzete and the project’s work at UniLúrio. We built an image library, a 10-minute video and a new website, mozeyecare.org, all launched for World Site Day. Our frequent collaborator Darin Reid did the design and built the multi-language site on WordPress. And a big thanks to the amazingly agile Nick Drummond who wrote and recorded most of the music in the piece.

Mozambique is one of five Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, and as such, is somewhat disadvantaged when it comes to foreign aid. In fact, the optometry faculty at Uniúrio are all Spanish speakers because it has been difficult to find Portuguese or Brazilian staff. The similarities between Portuguese and Spanish also made our job significantly easier as Sara was able to communicate with almost everyone in Spanish.

A few behind-the-scenes photographs are below. Explore the “Stories” on mozeyecare.org to view more images from the project.

  1. Comment by SUPRIYO CHATTERJEE on January 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I am quite impressed as well as enthusiatic to help Optometry in Mozambique. I am a senior optometrist and optometry educator, having an experience of 20 long years in optometry practice and teaching in India. I completed my basic optometry studies in Calcutta, India, and had obtained higher education in pediatric optometry and vision therapy in California and State University of New York, College of Optometry. As a part of teaching abroad, I was an assistant professor of optometry in College of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Ethiopia in 2008. I returned prematurely from Ethiopia for a health problem and they never called me back, despite my earnest requests! I’ve seen Africa from close quarters for more than 8 months and I am well aware of what is the scenario. I’ll be more than happy to assist in teaching Optometry in Mozambique – though I can’t speak Portugese! But that can’t be a barrier to healthcare, so I do believe.
    If you can provide me a teaching opportunity – I will be more than happy.
    SUPRIYO CHATTERJEE
    B.Sc.(CAL) D.O.S.(HONS) D.C.L.P.(IOI&RH) C.O.V.T.(STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK)
    CLINICAL ASSOCIATE: OPTOMETRIC EXTENSION PROGRAM FOUNDATION, CALIFORNIA
    EX-ASSOCIATE: COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRISTS IN VISION DEVELOPMENT, USA
    FORMER INTERN: OPTOM. CLINICS OF CALIFORNIA & UNIVERSITY OPTOM. CENTER OF NEW YORK.
    EX-ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF OPTOMETRY, UNIVERSITY OF GONDAR, GONDAR, ETHIOPIA


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Images from our home in the Methow Valley.

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