During the last quarter of 2014 Wilderness Safaris was involved with a programme to assist needy people from Damaraland who had problems with their vision.
Approximately 100 people, young and old, from the Doro !Nawas and Torra conservancies had their eyes tested by a small team of Namibian optometrists under the leadership of Etienne Bingham, chairman of the Namibian Optometric Association. The team was flown to Damaraland, and after testing the patients, some 60 were diagnosed as needing eye glasses. The glasses were custom made for each individual, courtesy of the Optometric Association, and subsequently given to the patients.
A number of people, particularly elderly ones, needed cataract surgery. These were transported to Swakopmund where they were operated on in a private clinic by a Namibian registered ophthalmic surgeon. The Damaraland activity was part of a Namibian eye care program initiated and sponsored by a non-executive director of Wilderness Safaris in his personal capacity.
Wilderness Safaris was responsible for getting the word out to the rural community, arranged for the patients to be brought to Bergsig where the clinic was held and arranged with the local school to make a classroom available for the examinations. Wilderness also arranged for the eye glasses to be delivered to the patients.
The optometrists and the ophthalmic surgeon provided their services free of charge whilst the sponsor funded the costs of air and ground transport, materials for the operations, hospital costs and costs of accommodating the patients in Swakopmund. A similar outreach activity for the Twyfelfontein conservancy is planned for May 2015.