Chloe Hall, a medical student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, visited the ASRI Clinic in August. During her time in West Kalimantan she assisted with an optometry event organized by ASRI & Essilor Eye-wear. Hall shared her experience at the three day clinic with Health In Harmony.
In late August, in partnership with eyewear company Essilor, ASRI organized three optometry clinics for the residents of Sukadana and nearby Melano and Siduk, all of which are located within the Kayong Utara Regency in West Kalimantan. Patients who attended were eligible for a free eye exam and a free pair of prescription and/or reading glasses. The clinics were in very high demand. Over 1,800 patients were served over three days.
The clinics were made possible through a partnership with France-based Essilor’s 2.5 New Vision Generation initiative, which aims to expand access to vision care to underserved populations around the globe.
The Mayor of Kayong Utara Regency, Citra Duani, who is very supportive of ASRI, attended the first clinic, which was held at ASRI’s headquarters in Sukadana. He delivered remarks that helped kick-off the three day event. He encouraged parents to protect children’s eyes by limiting their use of electronic gadgets. He pointed out that vision problems can limit children’s futures, e.g. if they are unable to meet the vision standards required to become a police officer.
Participants in ASRI’s planetary health education program for adolescents, ASRI Teens, were trained by Essilor staff to do basic eye exams. In addition to evaluating patients’ vision, they also helped with patient intake and clinic setup and cleanup.
As part of Essilor’s partnership with ASRI, two local students and ASRI Teens participants, Rusli and Yuli, received scholarships that will fund three years of optometry school in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. After graduating, the students plan to return to the Kayong Utara Regency, hopefully to the ASRI medical center, to practice optometry and provide this vital service to the community.
As an ASRI visitor who attended the clinics, I was heartened to see that the clinics truly reached people from all walks of life. Patients were excited to get new glasses (or to get their first pair ever!), and many waited several hours to be seen. Clearly, the clinics met a real need in the communities of Sukadana, Melano and Siduk. The whole ASRI family came together to set up the clinics each day and to see as many patients as possible, despite considerable challenges, such as limited electricity in the Melano and Siduk clinic sites that made it impossible to evaluate patients after sundown. It was truly a team effort!