25 Oct 2016
The Eye Care-We Care free vision screening program for migrants and refugees is transforming how Toowoomba’s migrant and refugee communities see the world around them.
Run by the Essilor Vision Foundation with the support of Mercy Community Services Toowoomba and Warwick, Eye Care-We Care enables residents from overseas, many of whom have not had vision screening before, to improve their eyesight with free eye tests, prescriptions and glasses.
Since April 2016, 145 people have gained better eye health through the support of the Foundation and two participating optometry clinics.
Small children, the elderly and whole families have taken advantage of the opportunity to see the world with new eyes. Families from Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Sierra Leone, the Congo and Rwanda have visited an optometrist, many for the first time.
For new arrivals from overseas, good eyesight plays a key role in settling into a new country.
Jacob Arok, his wife and seven children, who arrived in Toowoomba as refugees from South Sudan in 2004, were finally able to access the eye care they needed. Jacob’s elder daughter, Khot, said that most of the family had received glasses: ‘They have made a huge difference to our sight, especially when we read at school’.
Stella Boyle-Ferry, a single mother of a three-year-old son who arrived from Sierra Leone in 2006, said that her new glasses were invaluable at work. ‘I am looking forward to taking my son in when he gets a bit older’, said Ms Boyle-Ferry.
Hollie MacDonald, Eye Care-We Care administrator with Mercy Community Services in Toowoomba, sees the impact the program makes on families’ everyday lives. ‘People are keen to make an appointment for their family and feedback is always so positive’, said Ms MacDonald.
Eye Care-We Care has also been warmly welcomed by regional agencies working with migrant and refugee communities. David Barton, multicultural programs manager with Mercy Community Services in Toowoomba, reflected on its rapid success: ‘This program has profoundly improved people’s lives and local agencies are all fully behind it’.
Find out more!
For more details on Eye Care-We Care, contact us on (07) 4617 7600 or visit the Essilor Vision Foundation website.