Call for help: Seva Canada is looking for infant frames for Africa

Dr. Salma KC Rai examining a young patient in Nepal. Photo from Seva Canada

I just got this message from Heather Wardle at Seva Canada.  Seva Canada is a fantastic organization that works to eliminate preventable blindness worldwide.  They work with local partners around the world to help provide eye care to those most in need.

The picture to the right is Dr. Salma KC Rai, a Seva-trained ophthalmologist from Nepal, examining a young patient in Nepal. Dr. Salma, as she is affectionately known, won a Fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology from UBC and BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. In May (2010) she will return to Nepal where she’ll be one of 4 pediatric ophthalmologists working at the Seva-supported Lumbini Eye Institute.

Seva is currently working with Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology in eastern Africa.  They have a desperate need for infant eye glasses there.  They have many optical companies who have donated children’s glasses, but none for ages 2 and under.

Here’s what Heather wrote:

Basically, I need hundreds [of eye glasses] in total, but would be happy with any, either new or used frames.

As I mentioned, our partner in Africa is the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology based in Moshi, Tanzania.   The co-founder, Dr. Paul Courtright, is trying to establish pediatric eye care programs throughout eastern Africa and since there are no kids frames available in Africa, I try to send him a steady supply. I have several optical companies (Perfect Optical, OGI and IVKO) that have donated children’s frames, but no infant ones (I’d say age 2 and under).  They can make the lenses there, but baby frames can’t be found in Africa for love or money. Can you help?

Khadija, a little Tanzanian girl with cataracts in both eyes, received sight-restoring surgery. Photo courtesy of KCCO and Seva Canada

The problem is that there is a lot of childhood cataract in Africa, on top of regular refractive error problems, and these infants desperately need glasses after surgery and regular refraction for years after. Without glasses, as you know, their eyesight will never develop properly, so it is urgent. People can look at our website to see who we are and what we do.

The frames will be used in Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia and beyond. I have a big box of children’s frames waiting to go to the airport to ship to Tanzania and would love to add as many infant/baby frames as possible to it.

They can mail their infant frames to our office at:

Seva Canada Society
100-2000 West 12th Ave.
Vancouver, B.C. V6J 2G2

If they want more information about what we’re doing with the frames, they should include their contact information so I can stay in touch.

If anyone wants to call me for more information, I’d be deighted to speak with them.

Tel: 604-713-6622
Toll free: 1-877-460-6622

Huge thanks for spreading the word for us…

I know this community is extremely generous, and I’m hoping at least some of you are in a position to help out.

A young Cambodian girl after cataract surgery. Childhood cataract is much more common in the developing world. After cataract surgery children need follow-up for life and in the early years they must have their eyes checked often and new glasses provided. Photo by karl Grobl, courtesy of Seva Canada

As a recap, here are a couple of ways you could help:

  • If you have infant frames that you no longer need, that are in good repair, please consider mailing them to Seva Canada at the address above.
  • If you have any contacts with infant eyeglasses frame suppliers, please pass along this request, and ask if they can help with a donation of infant frames.

7 responses to “Call for help: Seva Canada is looking for infant frames for Africa

  1. How about contact lenses? Mia’s prescription changed so i might have about 4 aphakic lens +8 available. They are custom lenses, she has a steep cornea due to her glaucoma. And if i can find them, I might have a pair of infant Miraflex frames that she received when she was 2 months old.


  2. Would it be possible for us to order some small glasses from Zenni and have then shipped to her house? They are so reasosnable priced and cute, just wouldn’t know how to choose them. We would love to help, but still use our frames. I am also wondering if she would like some patches???


  3. This is Heather at Seva Canada replying to some of the comments. Thanks everyone for your very kind offers so far and your wish to help.

    Sadly contact lenses won’t work because the children for the most part live in villages, with basic if any hygiene, and the parents wouldn’t know how to use the contact lenses. Infection would be a big problem.

    Other ways to help include spreading the word about Seva Canada’s work ( and, if you wish, making a donation in support of our pediatric programs in Africa. As I said, I have a large box of 845 children’s (not babies) frames here waiting to ship to Tanzania. KLM Cargo does it for free, but the freight paperwork cost is $182.45.

    Re. the Zenni frames – I just had a look at their site, but the smallest frame size is 39 and I need them in the 34 to 36 range. I have optical companies like OGI and Perfect that generously and regularly donate the larger frames (39 to 46), but the baby ones are what we can’t get.

    Feel free to call Seva at 1-877-460-6622 to speak with me or if you have other ideas. Thank you Ann for posting this appeal! Heather


  4. I’m thinking I’ll contact our glasses shop to see if they ever have old inventory that they could donate – since they specialize in children’s glasses, I know that they do have the right frame sizes.


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