Update as of 2nd April 2020

VAO has launched an urgent appeal so you can 'Show African Eye Health Workers Your Support'. 

We’ve come so far, strengthening health systems. We can’t afford to lose momentum. The coronavirus pandemic is yet to reach Africa on the scale we ourselves have come to know. But it most probably will. And when people are already living precariously due to poverty, we must be there for them.

But ‘being there’ isn’t a given. VAO is a small charity facing a crisis. With events cancelled, businesses closed, and community fundraising understandably directed elsewhere, we are about to lose two thirds of our planned income over the next six months. Funds we need to improve eye health.

We are already cutting costs where we can do so, safely. We have closed our office and warehouse in Crawley. We are furloughing nearly half the UK staff and others are reducing hours worked.

We are thinking creatively too, because we believe VAO can be part of the global solution to the pandemic. We are supporting our staff in Africa and, where we can, delivering our eye health work in alignment with up to date Government guidance for each country. Importantly, we are exploring ways how our staff might be able to support the Coronavirus response, as part of each country’s health system.

We are motivated by the fact that the World Health Organization says that restoring sight is one of THE most cost-effective health interventions to reduce poverty. That’s tangible. That’s life changing. There IS a brighter future ahead if we keep on going.

See more about our appeal.

Update as of 24th March 2020

In line with the latest UK Government guidance around the Coronavirus pandemic which asks us to cease all non-essential business and travel, Vision Aid Overseas is closing our warehouse in Crawley until further notice. Therefore we are no longer able to accept deliveries of glasses for recycling.

We urge everyone - please do not send or attempt to deliver to VAO any packages containing glasses for recycling until further notice. Thank you. 

Please do not use DX, DHL, or any other method you usually use to do so. We are instructing delivery companies to refuse packages of used glasses addressed to VAO - so thank you for your understanding if a delivery driver refuses to accept your package. Thank you to DX and DHL for working in partnership with us around deliveries.

We estimate that this situation will remain in place until the end of June 2020 at least. If you have any queries during this time, please email [email protected] in the first instance.

We remain extremely grateful to the optical sector in particular who usually collect and send us glasses for recycling. We appreciate that all those who own and work in practices are themselves being challenged at this very difficult time for us all and we send you our best wishes.

We are all united by helping the world to see – let’s all help each other by staying safe right now.

The VAO Team


As of March 18th 2020

During this coronavirus pandemic VAO would like to assure everyone that the health, safety, and security of our staff, volunteers, partners, and the communities in which we work are of the utmost importance to us.

Our staff, both in the UK and in the countries in which we work, are communicating frequently. We are monitoring national and international measures, advice, and guidance and using this to inform all our decisions.

Currently, there are no professional volunteers working on behalf of VAO in Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zambia. We will remain in contact with any volunteers regarding planned travel over the coming months.

In the UK, our Head Office in Crawley is closed until further notice. Office staff continue to work remotely during this time and you can contact them using the details you may have for individual staff.

**UPDATED: Our warehouse operation are now CLOSED and we are NOT accepting deliveries (see full update above)**.

We will update this information as changes occur so please check again.

If you have any queries or concerns you can contact us using [email protected] in the first instance.

With best wishes to all, 

The VAO team