Agape pupils get free 20/20 view

NABEELAH MOHEDEEN

More than 80 children from two special-needs schools have been given spectacles with the help of Muslim Hands South Africa and Specs for Africa, Vangate Mall.

The 82 pupils from Mary Harding Primary School for children with intellectual disabilities, in Athlone, and Agape Primary School for children with cerebral palsy, in Mitchell’s Plain, received the spectacles last Thursday, as part of a project Muslim Hands started in 2013 after it was alerted to the high need for glasses in the community.

The organisations says it decided to focus on helping special-needs pupils this year.

Foresight project coordinator, Mishka Mahomed, said: “I went around to various schools to determine how many children needed spectacles. Some of the children’s eyes were very bad and actually need surgery, so we unfortunately turned them down. Pupils came to Specs for Africa for their eye tests and chose their frames. The are very excited to receive their specs today and appreciate the opportunity.”

Optometrist Siraj Allie from Specs for Africa joined Ms Mahomed on her visits to the schools to gauge the children’s needs. He said it was heart-warming to have been part of such a worthwhile project.

“When we visited schools, a handful of kids, about three out of 10, needed visual assistance. Some of their prescriptions were very high, which means they really, really were disadvantaged. The fact that we were able to pick it up and give them glasses was an amazing experience.

“I feel very humble to be part of the project. They are so excited and proud, it will be amazing for their self-esteem,” he said.

Malikah Abdol, head of Agape’s therapy department, said that the school was very happy that its pupils had been able to benefit from the project.

“We are ecstatic because lots of the pupils now have spectacles. They often come from disadvantaged families, so even if we do eye testing their parents aren’t always able to afford spectacles. It is making a huge difference in their learning and the way they interact with us,” said Ms Abdol.