We  Serve
>Home  >  Lion Projects >  Kamina Vision Initiative

The Kamina Vision Initiative

"To deliver basic visual care to people in need so that they can
lead healthy and productive lives."

The Stephenville Lions Club and the Lubumbashi Doyen Lions Club, Democratic Republic of the Congo are working together to support a vision clinic in the village of Kamina, DRC, which was begun by Lion Melody Ball in the Spring of 2007. Kamina is a "village" of about 200,000 people, located far from the nearest eye-care center, which is in Lubumbashi. Lion Melody has trained a team of village healthcare workers to perform elementary vision screening and to fit recycled eyeglasses to the needs of their patients. She has provided the team with basic optical equipment and trained them in its use. However, much more training and more and better equipment will be required to bring the Vision Initiative to its full potential. The Stephenville Lions and the Lubumbashi Lions are working together to make Lion Melody's dream a reality.

An LCIF grant is being applied for. The Texas Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center (TLERC) in Midland, Texas has provided training and training materials to Lion Melody, and will be providing further training to Lion Melody and several Stephenville Lions in preparation for a future trip to Kamina. The TLERC also provides technical support to the project as well as recycled eyeglasses which are made available to the Initiative in Kamina. The Lubumbashi Doyen Lions provide in-country support of the project.

The following is an article by Lion Melody describing the birth of the Kamina Vision Initiative.

"A small sliver of deep orange spread rays of light upward to meet with darkness. Within a few minutes, the eastern sky was illuminated with light. Fluffy, white clouds could be seen floating below. My thoughts wandered to a place in time, five years earlier. I was at work when someone asked me, "Do you want to go to Africa?" "Yes, I've always wanted to go to Africa," was my reply. I was told to be at the conference room at ten o'clock to meet with some visitors. Dr. Mande, a professor from the University of Lubumbashi, spoke to me and a small group of coworkers about the need to form a medical missionary team to depart for Africa. My mind wandered and I could hear my Father telling me wonderful mission stories about Africa as a young child. I told myself that someday I would travel to Africa and see the things I had heard of. Dr. Mande was still speaking. He explained that the mission was to deliver medical care to those suffering in a primitive clinic that had been established in the North Katanga. We would work alongside local doctors and nursing students. The thought of serving as a missionary halfway across the world thrilled me. The plane engines brought me back to reality as we began our descent into Africa.

After the first visit to Africa, one of my Congolese friends gave me a prescription for a pair of glasses. "Maybe you will be able to help me get a pair of glasses when you get back to the US?" I was heading back to Lubumbashi by way of electric train and the train was packed with people. The train was the most reliable form of transportation to anywhere. Anywhere was the city of Lubumbashi. Lubumbashi was a thriving city where people had access to eye doctors. I did the math and noticed that my one-way ticket cost $70 US dollars. The average Congolese who lived in the village of Kamina would be lucky if he or she made equivalent to $10 US dollars in one month. It would take a long time to be able to save enough money to make a journey to Lubumbashi and see an eye doctor. I understood why my friend gave me the prescription.

Some time after arriving at home, I found that there was a vision course and recycling center in Midland, Texas. My daughter and I attended the vision course and a new vision began to take shape. Why can't we teach these concepts to the people of the Congo so that they can learn how to do basic vision screening? We started working on a vision manual and curriculum similar to that of TLERC. Within two years, another team was ready to go back to Africa.

On March 30, 2007, an eight-member team went to the village of Kabongo in the North Katanga province of the DRC. We worked for one week by providing basic medical care. People came as far as 100 kilometers on foot to be seen. The team left within one week. Over 2,000 people had been seen and treated. I pleaded to be taken to the village of Kamina by some means. Unfortunately, the plane would not have enough gasoline to land in Kamina and continue on to Lubumbashi safely. The pilot said that he was sorry. By the next morning, my friend who ironically happened to be the friend in need of a pair of glasses so long ago, made arrangements for us to travel by motorcycle to the village of Kamina.

Long before we arrived in the village of Kamina, a team of fifteen village-healthcare workers had been assembled to learn the vision course. We worked hard the next day and on into the week to teach concepts of basic vision screening. We taught the village healthcare workers concepts of operating the lensometer and the focometer. Evenings were spent preparing class content by candlelight since storms kept the village in darkness. As the week drew to a close, the excitement of the village healthcare workers escalated. The village healthcare workers met officially and formed, The Kamina Vision Initiative. A large celebration and dedication took place and each of the members committed to center their work around caring for their brothers and sisters through screening eyes.

"The work in Kamina has just begun."

Back To Projects

ŠStephenville Lions 2007                Send E-mail to Stephenville Lions                 Updated: 10/07/2009