University of Melbourne optometry students (L-R) Tom Morton, Noni Rupasinghe, Victor Liu and Anjalee Athukoralage
By Ashleigh McMillan
Four University of Melbourne students are crowdfunding to support their outreach trip to Sri Lanka in January 2017.
Doctor of Optometry students Anjalee Athukoralage, Victor Liu, Tom Morton and Noni Rupasinghe will be accompanied by four optometrists on the Global Hand Charity outreach trip, with the aim of screening the vision of 3,000 people. Screenings will take place across rural Sri Lanka, where church halls and Buddhist youth centres will become impromptu consulting rooms.
Anjalee says the group is crowdfunding in order to allow them to provide more medical care for Sri Lankan patients with limited access to basic vision services.
‘This life-changing experience will open our eyes to a different perspective of optometry, so we as students can learn to appreciate the true value of what it means to become a well-rounded optometrist,’ Anjalee said.
‘Where appropriate we will also endeavour to provide financial sponsorship for those patients identified as requiring surgery or further eye care from local services.’
The trip will begin in Negombo on Sri Lanka’s west coast, before two days of screenings in Katana, including one at a girls orphanage. The students will then head to the Tea Leaf Vision Centre in Maskeliya for two days of clinics, before travelling south to Matara for screenings at a Buddhist youth centre. The project is aiming to dispense 2,500 pairs of spectacles.
Anjalee says the project will give her lifelong memories and skills, aiding learning and allowing each student put their knowledge into everyday practice.
‘We will have a better understanding of how to approach patients with language barriers and those in underprivileged circumstances,’ Anjalee said. ‘The exposure to numerous patients, especially in a rural setting will also present with rarer diseases that we may not see in Australia. This program will emphasise the importance of our roles as optometrists and our valuable contribution to the community as primary eye health-care providers.’
Donations can be made on GoFundMe. To keep up to date with the trip’s progress, head to the Sri Lanka Eye Care Project Facebook page