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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Port Villa Presse, Jan. 5) - Approximately 1,000 sunglasses for rural Vanuatu community members who are suffering from cataracts have arrived in Port Vila.

It was not dear old Santa Claus that brought them but Tamara Noy who brought the sunglasses donated by people with the heart of Santa, all the way from Australia to assist in the national eye care program.

The sunglasses will be hand delivered to rural community members by Youth Challenge International (YCI) volunteers, as part of the Vanuatu national primary eye care program.

These second hand sunglasses were largely donated by country Victorians and also students from Aquinas Catholic College in Melbourne.

The sunglass drive was initiated by Jim Noy from Kyneton, Victoria who came up with the idea after talking to his daughter Georgia Noy, outgoing Program Director of YCI, about some of the difficulties associated with prevention of eye cataracts.

YCI is a non-government organization that has two themes: youth development and community development.

Every program phase, youth from Australia and Canada join 20 local Ni-Vanuatu youth to live with rural communities for four to eight weeks whilst implementing community-identified projects.

CI currently works with Dr. John Szetu and his provincial eye care teams to screen rural communities to prioritize patients in need of cataract or eye surgery.

Rural Aid Posts are then temporarily converted into a surgery and YCI volunteers assist with the logistics behind these outreach eye surgeries in field.

During the process of eye screening, primary eye care education and awareness is also given by presenting drama and skits, handing out posters and facilitating primary eye care focus groups.

One of the main messages for cataract prevention is the wearing of sunglasses whilst outside working in the garden and whilst fishing – the difficulty being the accessibility and provision of sunglasses.

Now, because of the initiative and generosity of the Kyneton communities and Aquinas school, sunglasses will be available throughout the 2005 primary eye care outreach program.

Credit is also extended to the Pacific Blue for freighting the sunglasses at no cost.

January 6, 2005

Port Vila Presse:

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