Volunteer Australian optometrists trekking in the Himalayas in 2015 Image: Shaun Chang
By Helen Carter
Eyes4Everest’s Trekking Challenge is looking for seven people to raise funds for eye-care services in the Everest region and be rewarded with an 18-day trek in the area.
‘You don't need to be an optometrist, just anyone who's got the heart to help out, and in return we will take you on a trip of a lifetime to Everest Base Camp,’ said secretary and foundation member of Eyes4Everest, Sydney optometrist Carina Trinh.
‘This is a fundraising project where you have the chance to give back to the Sherpa people of the Himalayas who have limited access to eye care.
‘This is your chance to make a difference, accomplish the mental and physical feat of reaching Everest Base Camp, and gain cultural insight into the peaceful life within the mountains. Learn to cook traditional Nepalese food, admire Sherpa artwork, capture the awe with your own photography, devour delicious nak cheese fondue and more.’
Ms Trinh says the trip will differ from the organisation’s Optometrist Volunteer Program in which eye testing is conducted, as no clinics will be run during the trek challenge.
‘Eyes4Everest has run two volunteer trips where eye clinics were conducted by optometrists. However, this is the first time we are opening it up to anyone and the focus will be on fundraising with the reward of a cultural experience.
‘This trek also welcomes optometrists although no clinics, eye checks or optometry work will be conducted on this trip,’ she said.
A maximum of 10 people can go on the trek. Three participants have confirmed so far including the guide and leader of the trekking challenge team, pharmacist Hong Chang who was part of the founding Eyes4Everest team. His brother, Australian optometrist Shaun Chang, is the organisation’s founder.
Eyes4Everest is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to treating preventable blindness in the Sargamatha (Mt Everest) National Park. It formed after behavioural optometrist Shaun Chang visited the area and found many of the village school children had uncorrected refractive error.
Since 2014 the group has been providing comprehensive eye examinations, prescription spectacles, medicinal eye-drops and referrals for cataract surgery.
The trekking challenge gives people the chance to raise funds for the charity.
The cost of the trek is $2,300, which includes each participant’s travel, accommodation, food and entertainment while in Nepal. Participants must pay for their own international flights to Kathmandu, travel insurance, vaccination and travel visas.
Those who decide to take on the challenge are encouraged to raise funds. If they reach a target of $3,000 they will have their name inscribed on a plaque at a future Eyes4Everest eye clinic in Nepal.
Funds raised will pay for eye examinations and prescription spectacles ($50 for one person), sunglasses and safety glasses, and cataract surgery ($350.)
Volunteer optometrists needed for eye exams
Melbourne optometrist Joe Wang who was part of the 2015 Optometrist Volunteer Program will this year return to lead the optometry team volunteering its services after the trek, from 16 October to 2 November.
Eight optometrists are needed to volunteer their services for this project. Those interested can email email@example.com.
The people of the area have given land to build the first eye clinic for primary eye care in the national park. The clinic is seeking donations of the following equipment: binocular indirect ophthalmoscope with pan retinal lens, portable autorefractor, slitlamp, two trial lens sets and three three-metre LEA charts. People able to donate these items can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trekking challenge participants receive a 10 per cent discount on hiking gear and clothing at Trek & Travel, Kent Street, Sydney.
The Trekking Challenge will be conducted from 28 September to 15 October. Tax deductible donations are invited.
Image: Shaun Chang
Image: Shaun Chang