According to a report released by the Department of Health last year, there are over two million Filipinos nationwide are blind or suffering from poor vision. This includes an estimated 332,150 people in the country who are bilaterally blind while the current number of persons with bilateral low vision has already reached 2,179,733.
When the armed conflict in Marawi erupted last year, the residents were forced to leave their homes and livelihood to avoid being involved in the chaos; many of them were wounded and lost loved ones during the escape. Now that the battle has finally ceased, the citizens are faced with another concern: how will they start their new lives when all that remains are rumbles and ashes? More importantly how can they see a brighter future when they cant even see clearly?
Rehabilitating Marawi will take months and maybe even years. In an effort to help restore the once beautiful and diversified communities, Essilor Vision Foundation (EVF) and The Integrated Philippine Association of Optometrists, Inc. (IPAO), created an advocacy campaign entitled, Marawi 2020 with the aim of bringing eye care to the people in need, and ultimately to give them hope for a brighter, clearer tomorrow.
Marawi 2020 campaign is one of the many programs spearheaded by EVF, the philanthropic arm of Essilor, world leader in ophthalmic optics. EVF is committed to eliminating poor vision and its lifelong consequences, and to providing underprivileged people the opportunity to live a better life through better sight. Last year, EVF ASEAN also launched the Eye Can Succeed campaign in the Philippines, which helped over 10,000 senior high school students to perform better at school by providing free eye check-ups and prescription glasses to those in need. The foundation established in Singapore in 2014 also organizes charity events in neighbouring ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
“In our own little way, we aim to help the people of Marawi find hope despite everything that happened. Through this advocacy campaign, we wish to boost people’s confidence in seeing life more clearly. Better vision in life lets them know that it is never too late to start anew, to brush off the ashes and hope for a brighter future,” shared Dr. Emelita Roleda, general manager of Essilor Philippines.
With the help of volunteer optometrists from IPAO, the campaign will provide all residents with free eye checks and corrective glasses, if needed. EVF and IPAO also aim to create sustainable access to vision care services by creating an Eye & Vision Clinic at the Department of Health (DOH) Hospital in Marawi City. Furthermore, the program aims to help local optometrists re-establish their practices by providing them livelihood to recover from their losses.
For more information about the Marawi 2020 advocacy campaign, visit Essilor’s website at www.essilor.com.ph, and follow @EssilorPH on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.