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Lions Club of Yarra

District 201V5, Victoria, Australia

Lions Recycle For Sight Australia Program

The Lions Club of Yarra gives vision to developing nations. Members and volunteers of the Lions Club of Yarra are proud to support disadvantaged communities throughout the world by participating in the Lions Recycle For Sight Australia Program.

The purpose of this Lions project is to enrich the lives of people in developing countries. Used spectacles can improve the education of children and adults (who are fortunate enough to have schooling) and help people live independently by sustaining employment. Just being able to see clearly has a profound impact on many lives. Through an international distribution network Lions are able to deliver supplies into remote areas of Zambia, Samoa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and many more.

How big is the need? One in seven people in third world countries need spectacles so that they may experience the same level of sight that we take for granted. This lack of proper vision may be caused by malnutrition, lack of vitamin A, hereditary factors, disease or a combination of these factors. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 35 million persons are in need of low vision care. These figures are rapidly increasing, as populations grow older.

The Lions Club of Yarra collects spectacles from 52 supporting optometrists and retailers. The club also supports other local clubs in the area by receiving, packing and sending spectacles to the Lions Recycle For Sight Australia headquarters in Queensland.

During the past ten years, Lions Recycle for Sight Australia, Inc., has collected close to 4 million pair of spectacles thanks to an Australia Post Reply Paid Facility, thanks to 1,000 Lions/Lioness Clubs in Australia and several hundred clubs in Japan. The Centre has shipped close to 3.5 million pair throughout the world, including several countries in Africa, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kurdystan and Moldova in Europe, most countries in Asia including Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Philippines, China, American Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vietnam, Laos and Afghanistan as well as the smallest islands in the Indonesian Archipelago Pacific.

The programme operates in five locations. Two are manned by Lions supervisors and three are self-managed in correctional institutions. At all these centres, recycling and training are prime functions. Persons who have transgressed the law are trained to process the spectacles, providing them with skills and work ethics to help their rehabilitation back into contemporary society.

In addition to the process of sorting, grading and packaging boxes of 250 pair of spectacles and sunglasses, the Centre has installed lens making equipment in one, and soon three locations, to augment their capacity to service the needs of the Third World.

Recently the programme added a sponsorship with an on-line prescription maker to provide one free pair of spectacles for every pair sold on line - estimated at 5,000 pair of new spectacles in a year. Currently the programme receives 500,000 pair annually from Australia and Japan, and it refurbishes and distributes about the same number to groups around the world.