So how many of you out there have shown up at work one day to find a mobile eye clinic has been set up in the accounting office and they’re ready to check your vision?  Well, that’s the kind of thing that happens when you work at a fair trade cooperative.  Fair trade groups exist not just to make a profit (although maintaining a stable income for its members is a clear goal), but also to ensure the health, safety, and empowerment of its members.  Eye testing falls into the latter category.

We visit our groups every year, and we were lucky enough to be present for Eye Clinic Day on our most recent trip. 

The women’s eyes are tested using the machine you see pictured, which measures the size of the pupil and cornea and then prints out the findings, including a prescription for near or farsightedness if that’s the case.

A line formed right away, and the clinic actually saw close to 150 women that day.  You might recognize the lovely Leela at the front of the line above, although perhaps her feet are more recognizable.  Her bedazzled digits were featured in a post called Toe Candy.

So with the machine’s print-out in hand, the women crossed the room to consult with the eye doctor.

The doctor did a further examination and asked if symptoms like headaches or eye strain were occurring.

The mobile eye clinic provides an initial screening from which the doctor makes recommendations for further treatment if necessary, be it glasses or even surgery.  We all know glasses can be expensive and much more so surgery; how would these women afford to pay for those types of services?  I was wondering the same thing.  The women at the co-op are enrolled in the government health insurance program, paid in part by the co-op and part from the women’s wages each month.  So, should follow up treatment require glasses, surgery, or even medicines such as eye drops, that is all covered under the insurance program.

Now in case you didn’t read anything above, you can watch a short video in which I explain everything I just wrote.



I actually took a bunch of video on Eye Clinic Day, and we’ve got an intern starting next month who is going be helping to edit the footage…so stay tuned. Special thanks to our friend Ruth Roberts for her great photography!