Mustapha’s home country of The Gambia is where OneSight piloted its first sustainable vision center. Mustapha played an integral role in leading the country to complete access, with 7 total vision centers a manufacturing lab serving all Gambians. Now he’s using his expertise to expand vision care access across Africa.
We asked Mustapha to answer a few questions about himself and his work with OneSight. These were his responses:
What has been the focus of your work with OneSight up to this point?
Supporting the continual development of existing OneSight entities in The Gambia, Rwanda, Zambia, Liberia, and South Africa and helping expand the sustainable market by laying the groundwork in countries where OneSight has no operations.
For people who have never visited The Gambia, what do you want them to know about its people and culture?
The Gambia is a diverse multicultural country and very peaceful due to the tolerance, love and caring we have for each other.
Now that the Gambia transition is official, what will be the focus of your work going forward?
Now that operations of the vision centers have fully transitioned into the hands of the government, my role is now focused on supporting The Gambia Ministry of Health under the National Eye Health program to ensure continued sustainability of the Gambian model. I also use my experience from The Gambia to help other countries like Rwanda, Zambia, Liberia and South Africa achieve sustainability metrics and lead operations in new countries.
Tell me more about how you carry forward the sustainable model used in The Gambia to countries like Rwanda. How do you expand it to new areas? Are there cultural challenges?
Rwanda and Zambia were the second and third countries OneSight evaluated and piloted – in 2015 and 2016 respectively – to see if the operating model in The Gambia could be replicated or if it would need to be implemented with variations by country. We were able to roll out The Gambia model in these two countries with the same big objectives: Accessibility, Affordability and Awareness. There were slight differences in approach and operations due to the different countries’ government eye care and human resource structures, cultural challenges, and economic contexts. Our strategies in these countries are operating and scaling very well. Through flexibility, tolerance, persistence, influence, passion for the mission and a drive for results, we are able to overcome barriers and implement a version of the model that best fits each community.
As we set our sights on opening up more sustainable centers, What do you think it is that makes our sustainable vision care centers so effective?
OneSight vision centers are so effective because they are set up by people of different backgrounds with common goals and a vision to change the future of their village, their province, their country and their continent. These people understand the bigger picture of sustainability and scalability. OneSight helps them to achieve their dream by collaborating with them to create and develop effective operational tools and support based on the cultural, technological and economic needs of their country or their province.
What impact have you seen a pair of glasses have on some of the patients we’ve served in The Gambia?
Lamin SD Kaita is a friend of mine who attended the same high school as me. After successfully finishing our high school education, we were admitted to the University of The Gambia. While at the university, Lamin always fought to sit at the front of the classroom to see the board. I can recall several times Lamin told me that he was having to skip one or two questions on exams. However, neither of us knew at the time that his problem was a vision one and could be solved by pair of glasses.
Lamin’s vision problem was solved in 2013 when he got his first glasses from OneSight. In 2014, he was admitted to Friedrich Schiller University Jena for his masters in Germany. While at Friedrich Schiller, he achieved great results on exams which led to his admission into Sant‘Anna School of Advanced Studies to pursue his Ph.D.
how do you stay inspired as you bring clear sight to Africa?
Empowering current and future generations and unlocking their potential for equal opportunity in their communities, schools and job markets.
What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of OneSight?
The most rewarding aspect of OneSight for me is training, coaching, and working alongside with the vision center and OneSight in-country teams. We empower them to provide patients with the care that they deserve, thus unlocking their potential and improving their livelihood with a pair of glasses.
is there a patient story that stands out in your mind the most?
During our pilot program in Farafenni, a patient was refracted and bought a pair of glasses. A month or so later, he came back to the vision center with a hen and asked us to give him another pair of glasses in exchange for the hen, because he did not have physical cash to replace his missing glasses.
when you were little, What did you want to be when you grew up?
Since childhood my dream was to become an entrepreneur.
What’s your favorite sight to see?
Victoria Falls in Zambia
Want to learn more about the group of people that are constantly working hard to make everything we do possible? Check out our team page.