World Optometry Week was celebrated in style at Watercrest Mall in 1000 Hills, with 80 children with compromised vision who are unable to afford eye care, each receiving a free pair of prescription spectacles thanks to the collaborative joint efforts of the Order of St John and Ster-Kinekor.
“This is life changing.!” enthused first time spectacle wearer, Okuhle Mthembu (15) “You have no idea. Now, today, for the first time ever, I can see properly. I just keep wanting to take my spectacles on and off to compare the difference. Seeing everything so clearly is absolutely magnificent!”
Mthembu was one of the 30 children who attended a special film screening and hand over ceremony at Ster Kinekor, Watercrest Mall on Friday 25 March. For most of the children it was their first time outside Pietermaritzburg; first visit to 1000 Hills, first time wearing and owning spectacles; and first time seeing a film on a big screen.
Since 2018, the eye clinic at local government Northdale Hospital has been experiencing a critical backlog with their ability to dispense spectacles. 80 children in particular have been flagged as needing glasses but remained on the waiting list.
St John’s Eye Clinic in Pietermaritzburg, on hearing about Northdale’s predicament, appealed to Ster-Kinekor’s proactive Vision Mission CSI project requesting their help. Without hesitation, the team from Vision Mission came on board to support St John.
“It was heartbreaking to think that 80 children who should be wearing glasses would be starting the new school year without them,” considered Sanchia Jogessar, optometrist at St John Eye Care Clinic: Pietermaritzburg. She retested their eyes and made bespoke spectacles for each one of them. Thanks to the generosity of Ster-Kinekor, they were gifted free to the children.
30 of the 80 children were treated to a free movie at Watercrest Mall in Waterfall, to test drive their new spectacles. They had a sneak preview of the band new family-friendly film, Turning Red. It is Pixar’s groundbreaking coming-of-age tale about a Chinese-Canadian middle-schooler.
Watercrest Mall, active members of 1000 Hills CTO, roped in fellow tenants to came to the party. Spur provided a burger and chip lunch for the children, SPAR providing tea and sandwiches, Bargain Books providing books and Value Co providing school lunchboxes and cups.
“We are delighted to be able to help,” says Geraldine Engelman, head of CSI Transformation and Wellness for Ster-Kinekor. “Co-opting St John to support Northdale Hospital with their unprecedented demand for eye care, is an elegant solution. We loved meeting the children and seeing their new spectacles which will allow them to better perform at school, improve their quality of life…. And of course enable them to better enjoy movies!” concludes Engelman.
Good to Know
- Watercrest Mall is situated at 141 Inanda Rd, Waterfall.
- St John has an Eye Care Clinic in Pietermaritzburg’s Selgro Centre, 361 Church Street and at 129 KE Masinga Rd / Old Fort Rd in Durban – providing professional eye testing and the dispensing of budget spectacles.
- Visit https://stjohn.org.za/
- Ster-Kinekor is a national SA cinema company. There is a Ster-Kinekor complex in Waterfall Mall
- Visit https://www.sterkinekor.com/