Conserve and protect We believe in conserving the environment (by means of use of solar power, recycling, rain water collection and more), conserving the wildlife; by means of our support of a number of local wildlife conservancies and in our work in our own conservancy – the Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Taita Hills.
Support and nurture We also support a number of charitable and non-profit organizations, such as: The Diani Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy (DCCCP), the collection of left-over sun creams for albino children and an education fund The Asha Cottage Education Fund, which was founded for the furtherance of the lives of the children of our own staff.
Blindness in Africa
In Kenya one in one hundred people are blind. An estimated 80% of this suffering is preventable. The main causes are cataract and glaucoma. The reason that so many people become blind or visually disabled is that there is a lack of access to affordable quality eye care. If you are rich and live in the city access to eye care is easy. If, as in the case of most Kenyans, you are poor and live in the countryside, access can be very difficult.
Comprehensive Eye Services include creating awareness of disabilities and helping those whose eyesight cannot be restored. This involves careful assessment and, in the case of children, helping them to succeed in mainstream education.
The objectives of the project are:
• to improve the economic and social status of in the areas we work by reducing the socio-economic burden of avoidable blindness
• enable those who are irreversibly blind or severely visually impaired to realise their full potential.
The prevention and cure of blindness not only has a huge impact on the quality of life of the person and their family but also can provide enormous savings for them and society.
How it began
We began, almost literally as a mud hut, with no running water in 1993 performing less than 100 cataract operations per year into what is now a large centre where we see 20,000 patients per year in the field and at base and perform over 1,200 cataract operations each year. Five years ago we expanded into the neighbouring district of Taita and began a small clinic in Mwatate.
Community Based Programme
We are not just a clinic. We run a strong community based programme (CBP) which is responsible for increasing awareness of eye health in the community through schools, religious centres, local government administration, village health committees and youth and women’s group meetings. We train people in the community on primary eye care and referral. This helps to break down the barriers (fear, poverty and traditional beliefs) that prevent people from reaching care. We do eye screenings in remote villages with no transport infrastructure, bringing eye services closer to the people. We began an intensive schools awareness and screening programme, teaching basic eye health, testing the children’s sight and giving them to knowledge to go out to reach other people in the community who need our services.
Low Vision / Education
There are estimated to be more than 2,000 visually disabled children in Kwale County. So we opened a low vision department which works closely with the Ministry of Education, taking care of children who are blind or visually impaired, optimising their sight and enabling them to access their basic human rights, one of which is education.
Children with visual challenges are still often considered the result of a curse enacted through the witch doctor by an enemy. They are still often hidden away in the family hut, not allowed to show the shame of the family. The only way to change this is to create awareness in the community. This is often best done through schools.
The children are provided with treatment and ongoing support to help access normal life. This is done through assessment and the provision of assistive aids with follow-up in schools and at home. Our Vision Therapist trains teachers to enable them optimise education and to improve the quality of life of those whose vision cannot be restored. 5 to 10 patients benefit from these services weekly. Children with albinism is one example.
Mamma Mkambe and her 3 children with albinism visit KDEC.
KDEC works with irreversibly blind and deaf/blind clients, training them in orientation, mobility and daily living skills. This improves both their quality of life, and that of those around them. This program ( see below) is mostly field based but ensures that in our aims of preventing blindness, we do not neglect those who are irreversibly blind.
What are KDEC Screenings?
A screening is a medical outreach. We take medical teams to the villages to look for people with eye problems. Our community Based Workers inform the community that we will be visiting. We arrive and set up our station in the heart of the village. People queue up to be examined by our team. At these screenings we provide people in need with eye drops and reading glasses. Those requiring surgery are transported back to the Kwale District Eye Centre to be attended to by our surgeons. Screenings allow us to take eye care to the people in need.
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