Health workers around the world are being challenged like seldom before.

In the UK we are looking out of windows and staring at screens, viewing scenes we never thought we’d witness. It’s a difficult and uncertain time for us all.

But we are not powerless. Each day we are making good choices that help others, even at a distance.  

Already, our supporters tell us they donate to VAO because they are grateful - they can easily access good quality eye care on the high street, at home, at hospital. And they want to make sure that this kind of basic health care is available to everyone, everywhere. They feel it is only right.

‘Without glasses, I would not have been able to see since I was eight. That magic moment when the world comes into focus should be for everyone’. Andrea B

And so, thanks to such generous donations we have received over many years, there are now more skilled optometrists and other eye health workers in Africa than ever before, making sure that people living in poverty can SEE.

“I love my job very much, it feels so great when you test a patient, issue him or her with their first glasses… and see that smile as they thank you for saving their sight”. Isatu (right), an Optometry Technician trained by VAO, now working at a district hospital in Sierra Leone.

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 a substantial amount of income planned to be received from the public 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.

Might you be willing to make a donation and leave a message of support for eye health workers in Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zambia during this challenging time?

£22 can pay for a day of training for an eye health worker like Isatu

£5 can pay for an eye test and a pair of glasses for someone living in poverty

We promise to put your donations to good use wherever the need is greatest and to pass on your messages of support to our colleagues and partners overseas.

And if you leave your contact details, we promise to keep you updated too, about how your gift is helping – making people resilient as they look to the future.

Thank you.

We hope you and the people you care about stay safe and well too.

YES I am willing to donate to help