At Diani Blue we are committed to nurturing the community that surrounds us. Our commitment takes many forms:
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
“Giving the gift of sight in Africa”
Our major commitment is to the Eyes For Africa blindness eradication programme, a British based charity that operates via the Kwale District Eye Centre, which was founded by Helen and Iain Leckie, managers of Diani Blue and Lions Bluff, in 1993. Our reason is simple: Helen Leckie, whose professional title is Dr Helen Roberts, MBE MBChB, MRCOphth, FRCOphth, FCOECSA is an ophthalmic surgeon who has devoted her life to preventing blindness in Africa.
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. KDEC is registered both as a self help group with the Ministry of Culture and Social Services and as a Legal Trust and is exempt from corporate tax.
What do we do?
Our main work is to test, examine and treat eye disease. This involves treatment in the field, outpatient department and in the operating theatre. Many people need corrective spectacles for near and far vision, eye drops, counselling and advice and some need surgery. We do this at The Eye Centre on a daily basis.
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.
A low vision child at school. We found him three years ago malnourished and poorly cared for. He had never been outside the family compound. Now he goes to school.
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.
Children with albinism suffer terrible stigma because they look so different to everybody else. They usually have poor sight as they lack pigment in the eye. We spend a lot of time with Albino children. Culturally in many of the villages here, giving birth to an Albino child is not acceptable. Because of this belief, Albino children grow up with a lot of stigma and discrimination. It is very sad and totally unnecessary. They are often neglected by their parents, and some not even fed. At Kwale District Eye Centre we take care of these children. They are human and not worth any less than other kids. We are working against discrimination and advocating for their rights. We work every day to make the community understand albinism and accept these kids. We assess their vision, provide glasses or low vision devices and help to integrate these kids into mainstream education with their peers. You have to meet these children. They are wonderful”
“I am an Albino but there is nothing wrong with me. Kwale District Eye Centre Team visits my school and explains to my teachers that there is nothing wrong with me. When they visit the people from The Eye Centre play games with the students at my school and talk to the students so that they know I am normal just like them. I have sun glasses and sun lotion and also some clothing from them. Being accepted makes my life
Mamma Mkambe and her 3 children with albinism visit KDEC.
We can help with sunglasses or prescription glasses, sunscreen, hats and support in school.
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.[
KDEC’s services are not only concentrated in service delivery.
A very important aspect of the programme is the training of future ophthalmic nurses, cataract surgeons and ophthalmologists. This is conducted in partnership with the Kenyan National Medical Training Institutions. KDEC has been approved by the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board as a training centre for specialist recognition in Ophthalmology Kenya Medical Training Centre sends Cataract Surgeons to KDEC for 3 – 6 month practical attachment programs. University students in Community Development Studies are benefitting from KDEC’s community based program for their 3-month practical work.
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.
How you can help
If you’d like to make a donation, here’s how to go about it.
ON LINE by visiting www.eyesforeastafrica.org
By cheque (please complete the form below). Cheques should be made out to
Kwale District Eye Centre and mailed to P O Box 901 Mombasa 80100
By Mpesa through paybill business number 882500
Come and visit us – bring your friends, we’d be delighted to see you.
For further information on donations or visits contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Asha Cottage Educational Fund”
We believe first and foremost in education and in keeping families together. Our biggest commitment by far lies with the Asha Cottage Educational Fund. All staff of Asha Cottage are entitled to apply for an education grant to help them keep their children in school, and preferably, close to them here in Coast province. The Fund covers costs relating to admission, tuition, examinations, and school meals. The amount received by each child is determined by his or her school grades on a term by term basis. We replenish the fund yearly, but welcome any and all donations to help us out. Many children currently benefit – with more donations we can go beyond the gates of Asha Cottage. Please ask us for more information about this initiative if you are interested in helping out.
The Diani Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy (DCCCP) is a non-profit community-based organisation helping children with cerebral palsy and their parents. It was created to fill the gap in services available to the public affected by this condition. As and when possible, Asha Cottage supports the DCCCP with donations and helps raise awareness and funds to support poor families and children affected by CP. Financial support helps ensure that more children have access to medical, occupational and physiotherapy treatments and helps parents with children affected by CP interact, support each other and share lessons and experiences. Please let us know if you would like to help or contact the centre directly by email on ekimaru[a]dianicccp.org
Collecting sun creams for albino children
If you have left over high-protection sun cream that you do not need at home, please leave it with us. We distributes it to albino children in the area through The Eye Centre. Without sun cream protection they are at very high risk of developing fatal skin cancers. There is a little basket on the main verandah where you may leave your tubes and bottles of sun cream.