South Uist girl sets her eyes on VAO campaign

Charitable Uist girl Floraidh , 10, is proud to be a specs-wearer
Charitable Uist girl Floraidh , 10, is proud to be a specs-wearer

A ten-year old Uist girl is pioneering a campaign to get locals on the islands to donate all unwanted or old specs to Vision Aid Overseas (VAO), as part of a wider Specsavers initiative.

Floraidh Gray from Daliburgh on South Uist decided to lend her support after she had her eyes tested by the Specsavers Highlands and Islands mobile service.

As a full-time spec-wearer, Floraidh was intrigued about how she could recycle her old glasses and was told about the work of VAO.

Inspired to help others as a result, Floraidh decided to take action and collect specs for those less fortunate in third world countries while also turning her own experiences into a positive.

Initially she’ll be working with the local schools, starting with her own, Daliburgh Primary School, to develop a Prefect Project as a part of the curriculum to ensure it is carried on in years to come.

Mrs Margaret Campbell, head teacher of Daliburgh School, said: “Global citizenship has always been a very important part of the school’s ethos and the project will strengthen this.”

And Floraidh has been delighted with the response so far: “Everyone at school has been really supportive and helpful,” she said.

“Our school committees are all getting involved with help from teachers and different classes taking on various jobs, like getting the boxes ready.

“Last year, we learned about Fair Trade and how to think of our place in the world as caring young citizens,” Floraidh continued.

“My glasses have helped me see better and I am so proud of everyone in the school for helping with this project so that children in poorer countries with sight problems can get a good education too.

“My favourite line in the Vision Aid Overseas information is: Please donate your old glasses and help the world to see!”

A special collection box for old frames is in Daliburgh School and other boxes will soon be in local businesses.

The Specsavers Highlands and Islands mobile service provides residents with eye tests and services once a month and will use this visit to collect all VAO donations.

This month, the Specsavers mobile service will donate a haul of 1,000 pairs of used or unwanted frames to the charity.

Stewart Wilson, director of Specsavers Highlands and Islands, said: “We’re thrilled that Floraidh has decided to help us in our campaign to collect unwanted specs from South Uist and beyond.

“Not many ten year olds would take on such a massive project and we’re looking forward to working together.

“Our collection service for Vision Aid Overseas has proven to be an astounding success, with 1,000 pairs already counted.”

He continued: “We are proud to work with VAO, to help raise awareness for countries where access to opticians and eyecare facilities are extremely difficult to come by.

“Poor eyesight affects all aspects of our lives including learning and working, which ultimately impacts income and livelihood. It is easy to take something as simple as access to better eyecare for granted.

“I would like to express our gratitude to our customers for their time and effort. We would like to encourage the public to continue to hand in any unused or unwanted glasses as these provisions really do make a difference.”

Established in 1985, VAO is dedicated to helping those in developing countries who suffer from poor sight and blindness by improving access to optical facilities and better eyecare.

VAO recycles all of the old glasses it receives and uses the money it makes to provide eyecare to people who need it in the developing world.

Around 10 per cent of the world’s population – 670 million people - are disadvantaged by poor vision and inability to access optical care. Professional volunteers have proven that a simple pair of glasses, with the right prescription, can give sight back to local people.

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