Malawi

GoodVisionGlasses in southern Africa
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Around half of its residents live on 60 Euros per year.

Schoolgirl from Malawi | © Martin Aufmuth

ODG Brazil - Facts

  • Started work: 2014
  • More than 145,000 vision tests performed
  • Over 50,000 people provided with glasses
  • 20 employees on site
  • Main location: São Paolo
  • Eye camps in the favelas and the Amazon
  • 3 social-optics shops
  • Project name: VerBem (Good Vision)
Basic data - Brazil
  • Population: 210 million
  • Population density: 25,6 inhabitants per km2
  • GDP per inhabitant: USD 1,868
  • 22% of school drop-outs due to children's sight defects

ODG Bolivia - Facts

  • Started work: 2014
  • Over 45,000 people provided with glasses
  • Over 60,000 vision tests performed
  • 22 local employees
  • Main location: Santa Cruz
  • Eye camps with mobile optical unit
  • Central production for South America: 75,000 frames manufactured
  • Project name: Lentes al Instante
Basic data - Bolivia
  • Population: 11,5 million
  • Population density: 10,5 inhabitants per km2
  • GDP per inhabitant: USD 3,566

ODG Malawi - Facts

  • Started working: 2014
  • Over 40,000 people provided with glasses
  • More than 100,000 vision tests performed
  • Main location: Lilongwe
  • 46 employees on site
  • Around 1,000 eye-camps
  • Five eyewear centers
  • Project name: GoodVisionGlasses
Basic data - Malawi
  • Population: 20 million
  • Population density: 10,5 inhabitants per km2
  • GDP per inhabitant: USD 350 (rank 190 of 193)
  • About half of the people live on USD 65 per year

ODG Burkina Faso - Facts

  • Started working: 2013
  • Over 60,000 people provided with glasses
  • More than 140,000 vision tests performed
  • 65 employees on site
  • Central production in Ouagadougou (capital)
  • Average of 30 eye camps per month
  • 20 spectacle centres as permanent contact points
  • Project name: GoodVisionGlasses
Basic data - Burkina Faso
  • Population: 20 million
  • Population density: 73 inhabitants per km2
  • GDP per inhabitant: USD 716 (rank 179 of 193)

ODG India - Facts

  • Started working: 2017
  • Over 17,000 people provided with glasses
  • More than 55,000 vision tests performed
  • about 60 employees on site
  • Headquarter in the state of Odisha
  • Over 1,000 eye camps with small mobile teams
  • Project name: CARE Netram
Basic data - India
  • Population: 1.3 billion
  • Population density: 455 inhabitants per km2
  • GDP per inhabitant: USD 2,719

ODG Peru - Facts

  • Started working: 2019
  • Over 2,000 people provided with glasses
  • Main location: Lima
  • 10 eye-camps in the poor outskirts of the capital Lima
  • Project name: Lentes al Instante (good vision)
Basic data - Peru
  • Population: 33 million
  • Population density: 25 inhabitants per km2
  • GDP per inhabitant: USD 7,007
  • About a quarter of the population lives in the region Lima
  • Peru is geographically the third largest country in South America

ODG Kenya - Facts

  • Started working: 2014
  • Main location: Kisii County
  • Focus of work: Improving eye care in the public health system in Kisii County
  • Project name: Tuone Vizuri Miwani (Good Vision)
Basic data - Kenya
  • Population: 49 million
  • Population density: 90 inhabitants per km2
  • PDP per inhabitant: USD 1,832

ODG Myanmar - Facts

  • Started working: 2018
  • Over 3,000 people provided with glasses
  • Headquarter: Sagaing
  • Project responsibility: OneDollarGlasses Switzerland
  • 2018: Training of monastery staff in the manufacture of glasses and performing the eye tests
  • Successful implementation of first eye camps
  • 2019: Foundation of an own organization
  • Project name: GoodVisionGlasses
Basic data - Myanmar
  • Population: 53 million
  • Population density: 82 inhabitants per km2
  • GDP per inhabitant: USD 1,300 (162 of 193)

Ethiopia - Facts

  • Started working: 2013
  • Working with Alem Katema e.V. Partnership
  • Main location: Alem Katema, Region Amhara
  • One Dollar Glasses production and optical tests
Basic Data - Ehtiopia
  • Population:  109 million
  • Population density: 95 inhabitants per km2
  • GDP per inhabitant: 772 USD

Hunger

The main food in Malawi is corn. From this, the women cook nsima, the popular corn porridge. Most people in Malawi are small subsistence farmers. Even in years with no drought and flooding, people run out of food about two months before the next harvest. Meals only once per day are standard.

The Chief

Before you can run an eye camp in a village in Malawi, you have to ask the village chief for permission. The chief takes care of the concerns of the villagers and enjoys great respect from them. Most of the time the chief is happy that we help his people. He then informs all villagers that they can come for the eye test the next day.

Minibus

The minibus has proven itself to be the most reliable transport to bring the team to the villages. The minibuses are sturdy and well priced compared to other off-road vehicles. Above all, the whole team fits well inside with their equipment. Public buses are usually overcrowded and are not an option as the team must transport equipment directly to the job site.

At the eye camp

Often people do not know how glasses work and have not yet taken an eye test. That is why we first practice with everyone.

See correctly the first time

The most exciting moment is when people put on their glasses for the first time.

Children at the street stall

Production of glasses

The glasses manufacturers we train produce between 200 and 300 glasses per month. Around 30 different misalignments are possible in the manufacture of glasses. That is why we quality check every frame. A few photos of randomly selected frames are sent to our Bolivia team for quality control.

17 Minute Glasses

Our production manager, Innocent, conducts trainings in eyewear manufacturering and quality assurance in Malawi. He is also the proud winner of our first international glasses bending competition: in front of the camera, he bends complete glasses in just 17 minutes.

Here is the video of the ODG bending world champion:

School

The people of Malawi are very poor and there is usually a lack of essentials in schools. Tables and chairs are rare, classes with 200 students and more are normal. Since the parents usually have little money, the children receive the glasses free of charge. However, the parents have to come to school for an educational event and then accept the glasses themselves.

In the GoodVision Shop

GoodVisionGlasses already maintains several small shops in Malawi. We have these specially made. People can take an eye test there, buy new glasses or have their old glasses repaired.

Simon

When Simon put on his OneDollarGlasses for the first time, he exclaimed enthusiastically: “I see the birds on the tree there – I’ve only heard them all my life but I’ve never seen them!” Simon is 80 years old.
Simon had five children, they all died. But they left him 18 grandchildren, he says proudly. Simon says he has never been able to see properly in his life. Last year he couldn’t even work in his field anymore, his eyes were so bad.

When we visit Simon at home with a television team a day later, he is sitting in front of his hut – without glasses. “Where are your glasses Simon?” we ask. He goes into his hut and comes out with the glasses after a while. “These glasses are far too valuable, so I keep them in a safe place and only wear them for field work,” says Simon.
In a country where people often do not eat for 2 months per year, a simple, correctable visual defect can be life-threatening.

Photos: Martin Aufmuth; story: Martin Aufmuth

Our projects worldwide

Today we are active in eight countries worldwide.
Our goal: Establishment of an optical basic care for everyone.

Brasil

Bolivia

Malawi

Burkina Faso

India

Peru

Kenia

Myanmar

Ethiopia

You might also be interested in

“I rode the bus for ten hours because I heard that there were glasses here.”

Guyce Bvalan – Malawi