When LTC Mark Reynolds told us that eyesight testing kits and eyeglasses were needed in remote parts of Afghanistan, because of the generous contributions of our supporters we were able to provide them. A US military veterans group at Google was one of the primary supporters.
We just heard back from LTC Reynolds. His full email is below. Here are Afghan men with their new glasses.
And an Afghan woman who was having trouble sewing and doing routine tasks has had her vision restored.
Dear Spirit of America,
My latest trip in support of the glasses program brought me to 3 different provinces and several remote and austere locations. A common theme was limited access to medical care and virtually no access to eye care. Because of the situation, anyone living in these areas that needed vision correction would need to travel to a major city; usually a multi-day trip, to try and get glasses (if they could afford them).
At the first location, the glasses kit was put into use at the only women's clinic in the region, run in cooperation with the local providers. The clinic is one of the only sources of care in an unstable area. Seven women were given glasses on the first day. Both near and distance glasses were given, and most of the women were having trouble doing daily tasks, such as sewing. A simple pair of reading glasses allowed them to return to routine daily life. These simple glasses would not be available to them anywhere else in the area. The women's clinic is held on a recurring basis, and the glasses kit is now part of the treatment options. Since the program was started at the clinic, glasses have been distributed during nearly every session.
My other stops included glasses fittings for Afghan police. These individuals work alongside our forces daily, but again have no access to eye care. Glasses helped to improve day to day functioning and increased their ability to do their job. The other stops included frequent interaction with village elders. Many pairs of reading glasses were distributed, not only improving daily functions, but also increasing work place productivity. To date, the glasses program has been used to fit students (in both boys and girls schools), healthcare workers, and male and female patients of all ages.
LTC Mark Reynolds