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Eye care in Ghana's refugee camps

  • Story Highlights
  • Jennifer paid a visit to the Buduburam Refugee Camp Settlement in Ghana
  • There is a Unite For Sight program based there, giving valuable eye care
  • UFS provides eye screenings, eyeglasses and surgeries for free
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By Jennifer Staple for CNN
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GHANA (CNN) -- Jennifer Staple runs the Unite For Sight program which started in the U.S., but has branched out into working overseas.

Buduburam Refugee Camp Settlement, Ghana.

Regarding sight as a fundamental human right that most people take for granted, the program aims to tackle a range of visual impairments that affect people across the world.

Jennifer will be traveling to Ghana and then India, taking volunteers to continue the work of Unite For Sight. Keep up with her experiences in her blogs and video diaries.

December 11, 2007
One of the highlights of my trip to Ghana has been meeting the members of the Unite For Sight chapter at Buduburam Refugee Camp Settlement, Ghana.

This dedicated, enthusiastic and motivated group of volunteers has been administering Unite For Sight's programs at the refugee camp since January, 2005. Buduburam is a long-standing refugee settlement in Ghana for Liberians displaced by civil war.

The Buduburam volunteers have seen thousands of patients within the refugee camp as part of their campaign against preventable blindness. The chapter consists of Karrus Hayes, the founding President of the chapter who is also a school teacher, Habib Kamara, a nurse by training, and eight other impressive participants.

After receiving eye health training by local Ghanaian ophthalmologist Dr. James Clarke, the volunteers were ready to screen patients needing eye care. They now work daily and tirelessly at the refugee camp to screen thousands of patients each year.

The volunteers identify those needing evaluation by an eye care professional, and Dr. Clarke's ophthalmic nurse Margaret Duah-Mensah regularly visits the refugee camp to provide diagnosis and treatment. Then, those with operable conditions such as cataracts are referred to Dr. Clarke, who is located 1.5 hours away in the capital city of Accra.

Through Unite For Sight's program and sponsorship of all eye care costs at the refugee camp, medical services, prescription medications, eyeglasses and surgeries are provided free of charge to the camp's community, which lives in extreme poverty.

The refugee volunteers have said that Unite For Sight is the only organization that provides entirely free health care to the community.

After working closely for years with Karrus, Habib and the other volunteers, it was thrilling to finally have an opportunity to meet these heroes and to thank them personally for their extraordinary commitment. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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