From Texas to Tanzania
reflections THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
From Texas to Tanzania
An O.D.'s experience in helping to develop and maintain an eye clinic.
Jenean Carlton A.B.O.C., N.C.L.C.
Moes Nasser, O.D., of Houston, Texas, has a mission: to help bring quality eye care to Tanzania. So, despite having three practices, twice a year he travels to work in an eye clinic co-funded by Optometry Giving Sight in the country's Bariadi region. (Optometry Giving Sight is a global fundraising organization that specifically targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error.) Dr. Nasser has been instrumental in helping to develop and maintain the Bariadi Vision Center, which is now open and fully equipped to provide eye exams and spectacles to the 800,000 people who live in the Bariadi region.
Left to Right: Mr. Mbuguma, Dr. Nasser and fellow members of the Bariadi region.
Charity begins at home
Dr. Nasser says he is devoted to helping Tanzanians access quality vision care because he knows their lives will change dramatically with sight. Also, he says he's passionate about helping these people because he was born in Nyambiti, a small village 20 miles from the clinic. Dr. Nasser says he lived in Nyambiti until he was 16. His father, Roshanali Nasser, earned a living transporting goods for local merchants and, later in life, became a merchant himself. Dr. Nasser says his father taught him the importance of giving back.
“Even though we didn't have much food, my father always had people eat with our family,” he says. “My parents taught me that charity begins at home. It is my parents, especially my father, who shaped me into the person I am today.”
This past September, Dr. Nasser returned to the Bariadi Vision Center, where he mentored the Center's full-time O.D., Eliabu Mbuguma, who lives in Bariadi. Specifically, he says he taught Mr. Mbuguma how to use a slit lamp, among other skills.
“I felt overwhelmed with joy to be back in Bariadi, to see how funds provided by Optometry Giving Sight were providing vision care for people in the region,” he says. “Without the clinic, they would have no access to vision care.”
An unexpected gift
During Dr. Nasser's recent visit, he says a farmer presented with a piece of wood in his cornea. It had been there for the past eight-to-12 months. In fact, epithelial tissue had actually grown over it.
Dr. Nasser says he removed the object, gave the patient antibiotic drops and sent him home. A few hours later, however, he says the farmer returned.
“He had brought a goat for me,” Dr. Nasser explains. “Here was this poor man, who suffered for a year because he couldn't get the vision care he needed, yet [he] was so happy that he wanted to give a good portion of his wealth to me for removing a foreign body.”
Dr. Nasser says he didn't keep the goat. He says he explained to the farmer that he just couldn't accept such a valuable item. OM
Jenean Carlton is director of communications for U.S. Optometry Giving Sight. She says the organization plans to open at least two more clinics in Tanzania. To learn more about Optometry Giving Sight or make a donation, please visit www.givingsight.org.
DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, EN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.
Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: January 2012, page(s): 64