On July 19, 2012, the students of Immaculate Heart (public) secondary school, Lagos, embarked on the Eye Care project through the support of LEAP Africa. This project came about through the Leadership Ethics and Civics (“LEC”) Programme during which young students use the granted provided by LEAP to tackle social problems in their immediate communities ranging from poor health care to lack of clean drinking water. On this particular occasion, they purchased and distributed free eye glasses to market people aged 40 and over in a local market in Onigbogbo after these people had received eye tests from MD/ophthalmologist, Nike Anoyie of Magodo Specialist Hospital.
After the LEC programme, the students came to understand that as people age, many will depend on eye glasses and other seeing aides to improve their vision. With the advancement in technology and limited access to free healthcare in Nigeria, the students realised that the underprivileged would be marginalised and would not receive the necessary eye care that they would require as they age. Furthermore, in a tropical country like Nigeria, the eyes are more exposed to higher levels of pollution in the cities and as a result they are prone to deteriorating faster than in the more temperate parts of the world where pollution may not be as high. In view of the forgoing, the Eye Care Project will also serve to enlighten the local traders in Onigbogbo on how to care for their eyes in order to mitigate damage to them.
The students and the supervisors from their school, went into the Onigbogbo local market and fifteen pairs of free eye glasses to the market people. Thirteen women and two men received eye care on that day and they were obviously very pleased to have received the free glasses.
The market people of Onigbogbo trade in food, building materials, mobile airtime recharge cards and other general items. Before the project started, most of the traders were forced to entrust their small businesses, and livelihoods, to other people due to poor sight; not being able to see clearly meant they could no longer carry out their duties efficiently. However, as a result of the intervention of this project, the market people have been able to regain their independence and ownership of their businesses and have reported increased sales and profits as early as a few days after they received the glasses.
Apart from the ophthalmological assistance rendered during the Eye Care project, a nurse, Mrs. Agunbiade from Onigbogbo Health Centre, was on hand to give free the blood pressure (BP) checks to traders over 40 in the market. Eighteen people had their BP taken; ten out of the eighteen people had a high BP and were referred to the Health Centre for further evaluation. She also gave all the traders information about the symptoms of high blood pressure such as headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea/vomiting and chest pain/shortness of breath.
The students were excited about this project and the opportunity to demonstrate some of their leadership skills acquired through the LEC programme. LEAP and the medical professionals urged others to get their blood pressure checked to avoid any potentially fatal outcomes. Overall, the Eye Care project was a huge success for the students of Immaculate Heart Secondary School, the LEC programme, the community of Onigbogbo and LEAP Africa.