The Pursuit of Vision

KGSA’s holistic model cares for the whole girl and that includes her eyes too. Did you know that 30% of people need glasses and don’t realize it until their vision is tested? Thanks to the hard work of Coloradans Anne and JP Feve, the KGSA girls and staff now have glasses! Read on to learn more about Anne’s KGSA volunteer story.

Once upon a time, there was a high school in a huge slum in Kibera, with about 140 beautiful girls. During our first visit last year, my husband and I noticed that none of the students were wearing glasses. What was their secret? When we asked, we got the following answer: the girls don’t have their vision tested because they couldn’t afford to pay for glasses. We didn’t like the answer.

Six months later, when planning our summer trip to KGSA, Katy put us in touch with First Sight, a nonprofit organization in the USA that was sending free kits to test vision and provide eyeglasses. Upon receiving our kit, we read the instructions, tested each other, and we felt confident enough to offer our services to the girls.

We arrived at KGSA after an exhausting 36-hour trip and received a warm welcome. We quickly felt at home and re-energized despite our long journey. We settled our material in the computer lab and began testing students in groups of 4 to 5. This allowed us to give full attention and as much time as needed, sometimes 15 min for one student!
For the next three days, I repeated the same instructions more than 130 times: “The letter E on my board is not always oriented the same way, you have to tell me if it points up, down, left, or right. If you prefer you can use your fingers to show me the direction. We will test your eyes one at a time.” I recorded their results and then figured out which corrective lens could help a girl read the smallest lines on the board. My husband JP made glasses at night for each student who needed them. I was very happy that my husband helped me with the majority of the testing. I was even happier that we were able to fully train Madame Latifah, the school matron. 

We were able to test the vision of all the students, some members of the staff, some alumni, and even the dad and the grandfather of one of the students! Everyone was welcome. In total, 130 Kenyans were tested and 56 pairs of glasses were distributed including instructions on how to care for them. The school appreciated the project and plans to continue testing students into the future. Ms. Latifah will continue to administer eye exams and provide glasses to ensure the girls’ vision needs are met. 

The feeling of having accomplished a mission was great. I hope the new glasses will help the students in their learning and everyday life.
-Anne Feve