Looking at challenges with new eyes

During this last month Solisyon Kominote Yo has been working in Ouanaminthe and the surrounding communities to provide people access to eye checks. Thanks to the SVOne a smartphone-based autorefractor developed by Smart Vision Labs we were able to test more than 200 people in 2 weeks. 

This revolutionary technology has also given us the opportunity to identify refractive errors like nearsightedness and to offer life changing solutions, such as eyeglasses in a dignified and economical way. Normally to access vision health services and basic products, people in Ouanaminthe have to either travel great distances or cross the border to the Dominican Republic.

Solisyon Kominote Yo has addressed farsighted vision problems since 2012, but the innovative SVOne has provided us a tool that allow us to reach the most remote communities and to diagnose individuals that struggle to see clearly while looking in the distance. On November 20th, our local leadership Madalina Bouros and Estela Aragon hopped on the back of motorcycles (due to poor roads there are no buses) with Elizabeth and Ponpon, two community entrepreneurs from SolKomYo. Arriving at Mont-Oganisé, a community 50 minutes away from Ouanaminthe, the team set up at the local school as a base to provide eye exams and sell low-cost glasses not only to the school’s students, but also to adults.

20/20 vision for the first time in her life15247761714_c0807a3528_z

Over a four-hour period the team conducted 100 visual exams for people from four to eighty years old. Based on the readings of the SVOne they were able to provide 21 people with glasses appropriate to their needs for the first time in their lives. Ten people purchased their glasses on the spot for between $2.50 and $5.00 and 11 pairs of glasses were left on “layaway” at the school. We are especially proud of how the community entrepreneurs, using the SVOne device, played a fundamental role in improving the lives of Joseph, Judith, Gabriel, Fivel, and Milkins.

Joseph (age 16) visited the team and when they met him he was blinking and struggling to reach the normal long distance visual acuity level of 20/20. After being tested with the SVOne, Joseph tried on a pair of glasses appropriate to his need resulting in 20/20 vision. His new pair of glasses is waiting for his mother to pick up and pay for at the school. The revenue from this purchase will go to SolKomYo to purchase another pair of glasses, cover operational costs, and incentivize the local women entrepreneurs who supported this first campaign.

Judith (age 12), Gabriel (age 14), and Fivel (age 13), arrived in their school uniforms. Their teacher had let them out of class when she heard about the vision exams taking place since she knew they struggled with their eyesight. All three students were having problems seeing the board. Each student tried on their glasses, got to 20/20 visual acuity, and smiled from ear to ear. They chose frames they liked and they’ll be getting their new glasses soon.

15247744054_caccc179eb_zOur favorite story is that of Milkins (age 8). His teacher told the team about his struggle to perform well in the classroom because of his inability to see well. After administering the SVOne exam, the team was fitting Milkins with glasses, and everyone in the school surrounded him to see what was happening, calling him “the miracle.” He could see well for the first time in his life and his life had been improved in a matter of minutes. His teacher had him run home to get his mother, who showed up within 30 minutes and bought Milkins his glasses. Both mother and son left with a new sense of hope for what Milkins could achieve not only in school, but also in life.

Working together with local entrepreneurs, communities, organizations and social oriented manufactures and innovators to solve long-standing challenges is what Solisyon Kominote Yo is all about. Thanks to these relationships, new and old, November 2014 marks a milestone month in social impact and innovation.

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