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Bringing Vision to those in need - Part 2: providing vision tests & eyeglasses to more than 1,600 tanzanians

SKYGENUSA Powering Healthcare for the Digital Age

Author: The skygen international foundation



SKYGEN International Foundation wrapped up its week-long charter project with a bigger impact than planned. More than 1,600 Tanzanians received vision testing and prescription eyeglasses, exceeding the goal of providing vision care to 1,500 children and adults.


The SKYGEN team and project partners set up their mobile vision testing in a different village each day at clinics and a hospital run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), another project partner. The team worked from 10 in the morning until sunset daily, when lack of light became an issue. Then, the team collaborated on improvements that would allow them to see even more people the next day. Tanzanians from several generations visited the clinics, from school-age children to a few adults over the age of 100.

“When we arrived to find well over 300 people already in line for the chance to receive a vision test and eyeglasses, it really highlighted the deficiency of available vision care in underserved parts of the world. It was heartwarming to see the smiles on the faces of our patients as they donned their new eyeglasses, now able to see clearly for the first time in their lives.” - Brett R. Bennett, SKYGEN International Foundation team member

“When I saw a 99-year-old man's face light up from being able to see well for the first time, all of the bumps in the road we went through disappeared.” - Alex Rood, SKYGEN International Foundation team member


Making Vision Care Sustainable in Tanzania

While last week was a memorable one for 1,600 Tanzanians, this SKYGEN International Foundation project is also a win for the Arusha region. “One of our very important goals is to make this project sustainable,” said Lisa Sweeney, the Foundation’s executive director. “Our project coordinator Emanuel Kitoi will stay in Tanzania through October to continue offering vision care at several other locations, including schools. About a dozen local residents we’ve hired worked alongside us last week to learn the process and use of the equipment, which we’ve left with them. Now that we’ve seen this mobile model can work, we have plans underway for the long term.”

In the coming week, the Tanzania team will deliver custom eyeglasses for those with more complicated prescriptions. They’ll also provide testing and eyeglasses to individuals who were not able to be seen in the first week.

Better Vision for School and for Life

SKYGEN International Foundation chose Tanzania in part because of the country’s demographics. More than 66% of the nation’s population is under the age of 25, and the SKYGEN team was able to provide prescription eyeglasses to some children last week. Many more did not attend because they were in school, but SKYGEN International Foundation has secured approval for its Tanzania team to take its mobile clinic to both ELCT and public schools in the coming weeks.

Most of these students are trilingual, speaking their village dialect at home, and learning the national language of Swahili in school as well as English. Clear vision will promote greater achievement in school and a better quality of life for these young Tanzanians. We hope they’ll be the “coolest” kids in school as they return with their stylish new specs.



“We’re very grateful to our strategic partners Essilor, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, and EyeNetra,” said Sweeney. “Their commitment and collaboration has been vital in helping SKYGEN International Foundation get our charter project off to a strong start.”

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Lisa Sweeney

Lisa Sweeney

Lisa Sweeney is the Executive Director of the SKYGEN International Foundation, which is focused on finding cost-effective ways to improve healthcare in underserved parts of the world by using emerging technology. The Foundation’s current initiative is training local care teams to use the latest mobile diagnostic equipment for vision testing in Tanzania, and in the future, in other developing countries. Children and adults in these communities will receive glasses from the Foundation that are custom-made to their specific prescription.

Ms. Sweeney moved into the charitable practice of SKYGEN USA after contributing to the success of the corporate side for more than 16 years as the Chief Financial Officer. During that time, she also led SKYGEN USA’s vision benefits management organization, as well as making contributions in a variety of functional areas including operations, quality, cost containment, compliance, facilities, and human resources.

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