A sense of euphoria filled the Town Campus’s atmosphere on a particular morning in Bindura. The campus was packed with a special group of people who were moving hastily to a lecture room where they then congregated. After a while, some of the group members were seen jumping ecstatically up and down while some blissfully clapped their hands – others were ululating with some just smiling holding some little parcels in their hands. Looking closely at the parcels, one could see that they were eye glasses. Yes – almost everyone was holding a case of eye glasses. This multitude comprised mostly of people living with albinism.
The event that was taking place at the Town Campus on the 7th of February 2020 was a Free Eye-Testing exercise which the University through its School of Optometry carried out for People Living with Albinism (PLA). The exercise also included distribution of free reading and seeing glasses to members of PLA who were diagnosed with eye problems.
The programme was graced by Dr Finn Juncker, an Optometrist from Denmark who donated more than two thousand (2000) glasses to the University. He also actively participated in the exercise, carrying out eye tests and recommending suitable type of glasses to those he would have tested.
“We eye-screen people living with albinism and those diagnosed with eye problems would be given free reading and seeing glasses free of charge. Those whom we cannot assist, we refer them for further assistance. We are helping people so that they would be able to read and see,” said Dr Juncker in an interview with the Meeting Point crew.
Dr Juncker applauded BUSE for establishing the first School of Optometry in the country. “We do not have Optometrists in Zimbabwe. Through this school, the country will have its own Optometrists in three (3) to four (4) years,” he said.
Dr Juncker was visiting the University for the second time. His initial visit was in January 2019 when he facilitated and expedited the donation of US$22,250.00 worthy of Optometry equipment and 4000 reading glasses for the University’s Optometry unit.
Mr Gowe, a Chief Technician in the Faculty of Science and Engineering and, facilitator of Eye-testing Outreach Programmes said the beneficiaries of this exercise were mobilised through the provincial office of the National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe (NCDPZ).
He added that the University had plans to reach all corners of Mashonaland Central Province carrying out this outreach programme.
“We have more glasses that we still have in stock. We want people in Mashonaland Central to benefit from the University,” said Gowe.
The Chairperson of NCDPZ, Mr Abdula Mukanyela said he was grateful to the institution for this kind gesture. “We are grateful to the University for reaching out to members of our group. You have closed a financial gap for us. Most of our members are not working and cannot afford glasses.
“We are happy with plans by the University to open an Optometry Clinic – eye services are going to be available locally. We are not going to be travelling for services in Harare,” said Mr Makanyela.
The University introduced the BSc Honours degree in Optometry in 2017 under the Faculty of Science and Engineering. The programme is offered on a full time basis and runs for four years. Entry requirements for the course are five ‘O’ level passes including English Language, Mathematics and Physical Science and three ‘A’ level passes in Physics and two of the following: Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology.