© 2013 Lions Clubs New Zealand
In 1925 Helen Keller, a woman who had been blind and deaf since childhood, challenged Lions to become "Knights of the Blind" in a crusade against darkness. Lions accepted Helen’s challenge and there are now a number of programmes that Lions are involved with worldwide, particularly in third world countries.
Christchurch Ferrymead Lions Club
This club has a spectacle recycling project which began in 1987. Up to six members of the club meet fortnightly on Tuesday evenings to process the thousands of spectacles which regularly come from all over New Zealand. Initially, the club spent $9,500 on optical equipment to enable the team to sterilise the spectacles and recalibrate the magnification and type of each lens. The club has purchased the latest lens testing machine with a special LCIF seeding grant for SightFirst projects allowing us to test graduated lens glasses and prescription sunglasses, increasing the supply of glasses to VOSO.
Useful items are labelled, packaged and passed on to Volunteer Ophthalmologist Services Overseas (VOSO) for distribution to those with poor eyesight in the Pacific Islands.
VOSO consists of teams of eye surgeons, optometrists and eye care workers who visit the isolated communities and bring enhancement to the lives of hundreds of people annually. The project has provided over 80,000 pairs of glasses which would have a replacement value in excess of $15 million.
Spectacles can be sent to any one of the following:
Papakura Lions Club
In 1996 Papakura Lions purchased a lens meter and other necessary equipment to process eye glass recycling after a need was identified to supply spectacles to aid people in Fiji and other Pacific Islands. Glasses are received from all over the North Island. They are sorted for reading glasses which are then checked for cracks, scratches and screws tightened before being washed in an ultrasonic washer and dried. They then have their prescription recorded and are packed for delivery.
Type 2 Diabetes is common in the Islands and is the main cause of blindness. Lions Clubs in the Islands receive the glasses and distribute them to visiting volunteer Optometrists who test patients and fit them with the recycled glasses at no cost.
Sunglasses are also a useable item for the Islands particularly after cataract operations. Transporting the glasses to the Islands is always a problem so any way to help is appreciated. Some firms have spare room in their containers and are happy to help. Some travellers take a few boxes up as personal luggage.