by Elena & Karin Semler
It is often said that “eyes are the windows of the soul.” Not only that; they are also a gateway for education and deeper understanding.
During late November and December 2021, to serve students at Heshangzhuang and Zengyi Primary Schools in Yunnan province, CWEF partnered with staff from the local nonprofits Education in Sight and the Zhengxin Social Work Service Center in Wuding county to provide vision screening and to teach children about the importance of eye care.
The eye care activities for 134 students at these two primary schools in Wuding County are just one small piece of a broader, comprehensive program the schools have partnered with CWEF to facilitate, which is called HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy”).
HEAL addresses the need for proper health-related equipment and resources, along with the deeper knowledge and behavior change needed for students to lead a full, healthy life.
Eye health is a key – and sometimes missing – piece, as one student noted:
“It was the first time we tested our eyesight, and we realized that eyes are so important. The world is blurry if you don’t see well. If you are nearsighted, you should wear glasses with the correct prescription. We should develop good habits and do eye exercises carefully.”
Mr. Yin, the trainer from Education in Sight, reflected:
“The students were very curious to learn that the proportion of myopia among rural children is much lower than their peers in the cities.”
The recent global increase in myopia (or nearsightedness)is attributed to the increased use of electronics and screen time in young children. In addition to the training, books about proper eye care were given to the students, and all the students were screened for myopia.
Myopia can be most easily corrected by eyeglasses. Of the students tested, around 7% were found to have myopia. Most of these students were given free glasses available directly from Education in Sight, and the others were advised to go to the hospital for further screening.
Understanding proper eye care methods and providing glasses is important because without this intervention, more children are vulnerable to developing myopia or other eye issues. Working to prevent and treat eye issues like myopia can help the students in their general health and school education. The teachers at the Heshangzhuang and Zengyi schools reported that the screenings and health education activities were very meaningful, and will further give them the opportunity to follow up with ongoing health education related to eye care and their students’ overall health.
CWEF, together with our local partners, would not be able to facilitate the HEAL program or provide this free eye health education, eye tests, or glasses for these students from underserved communities without generous supporters like you.
Thank you for your generous donations. You are making a clear difference in these children’s lives and giving them the chance to see a bright future.