As part of our ongoing mission to close the vision care gap to ensure everyone has access to vision care, OneSight is expanding its outreach to include displaced and refugee communities. This year we introduced a new clinic to our schedule, adding in a 10 day trip to Jordan to serve refugees who have escaped the Syrian conflict. During the span of this clinic, OneSight’s goal is to provide comprehensive quality eye care to 3,000 refugees who escaped the conflict in Syria and sought asylum in Jordan.
The Syrian Refugee Crisis
2019 marks the 9th year of the Syrian war. Since the start of the war, more than half the country’s population has been displaced. As of February 2018, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) had registered over 5.5 million refugees from Syria and estimated that there are over 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDP) within Syria’s borders.
Many Syrians have sought out refuge in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. As of November 2018, there are a reported 673,414 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, a majority of which are under the age of 18. Many of these refugees and displaced people live under terrible conditions and want to return home, but must wait until their return is informed, safe, assisted and protected.
This past December, Tareq Nabhan spent a week visiting Jordan and solidifying needs for our upcoming OneSight clinic in the Al Mafraq region . During his travels, he journaled about his experience, sharing the following:
Dec. 21, 2018:
Today I left for Jordan. I’m on my way to further grow OneSight’s partnerships and to introduce our new screening protocol for a rapid assessment of visual impairments in the Al Mafraq region. This data will ultimately serve OneSight to become even more strategic in the effective delivery of eye and vision care services.
Dec. 23, 2018:
We’ve been making great progress in-country thanks to our in-country contact, Dr. Mohammad Alabed, Deputy Director of Al Mafraq Government Hospital. He introduced me to a friend and local optometrist, Ms. Alaa Khamis. After an introduction to our screening protocol, she will be working alongside me and other medical volunteers during and after my time here to identify 3,000 at-need patients for our charitable clinic in March. It’s been a great help having an in-country optometrist with years of screening experience in several refugee camps!
Dec. 25, 2018:
Merry Christmas to all our friends around the globe! Although away from my family, I’m not sure if I’ve ever celebrated the holidays with a bigger purpose. I want to give a huge shout-out to OneSight for this amazing and humbling opportunity. Giving the gift of sight belongs under every tree. 😊
Dec. 26, 2018:
Sending congrats to Dr. Mohammad Alabed and his family on the birth of his beautiful baby girl, Ghazal! The night before her birth, him, Alaa and I worked hours on end to prep for today’s screening. Thanks to the help of Alaa and over eight medical staff volunteers, we were able to screen nearly 100 locals from all ages in this region.
Dec. 27, 2018:
Today a second round of screenings took place. Additional volunteers dedicated their time to help, while a media agency made their rounds and held a brief interview with Al Mafraq’s Director, Dr. Tahan. Next week Dr. Tahan will also be interviewed live on local television for a two-hour segment dedicated to OneSight’s purpose. The news is spreading!
Dec. 28, 2018:
I’m leaving Amman knowing we got a lot of great things done. We got the ball rolling on a critical aspect of the screening protocol. This will serve unparalleled for a more targeted approach, and potentially subsequent efforts. The OneSight purpose speaks for itself – Its translation and the screening protocol execution were the challenges I very much welcomed and believe we strongly accomplished.
Dec. 30, 2018:
What an honor and privilege to have had the opportunity to work with OneSight’s Program Manager, Daniele Cangemi, and in-country partners Dr. Mohammad Alabed, Dr. Tahan, Alaa Khamis, and their teams from the Ministry of Health at Al Mafraq Government Hospital in Jordan. Moreover, it was my absolute honor to have visited with key ally Dr. Mohammand Abu Khadier, Ministry of Health Director of the Zaatari Refugee Camp of Jordan.
Under the strength of our united, dedicated, and comprehensive collaboration, we assembled the site, volunteers, and patients for the purpose of our pre-clinic screening initiative to help identify 3,000 at-need patients to be seen at our official OneSight clinic in March. Sadly, the abundance of refractive error and ocular pathology was immediately apparent during my one week visit to the Al Mafraq region. However, with this data we hope to present a Rapid Assessment of the Visual Impairments within the Al Mafraq region, a region comprised of the Zaatari Refugee Camp – the largest refugee camp in Jordan. Here, we’re not only finding the problems and delivering acute solutions, we’re also sharing the data that will guide subsequent healthcare initiatives in a cost-effective, targeted approach for the long term.
As you can see, Tareq is not only a great partner, but also a great advocate for the cause of brining clear sight to those who need it most. It’s thanks to individuals like Tareq and all of the partners and doctors he worked with in-country that make our clinics a success. This will be our first clinic in the Middle East and we couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to work alongside Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Ministry of Health and look forward to delivering data to help guide long-term healthcare solutions in the area.