Posted by Peter Roaf on Aug 30, 2020
A young man in Ethiopia, who struggled over many years to read and write, and yearned for an education, had been regarded as stupid and forced out of school at grade two, because he was blind. He put on eyeglasses for the first time and, as a new world opened up for him, said as a plea, now, “How can I learn?” His life might have been so much for fulfilling if he had eyeglasses when he was a child.
The second hand eyeglasses and professional help came to this man half way around the world thanks to the Third World Eye Care Society (TWECS), based in Burnaby, BC, founded by Optometrist Dr. Marina Roma-March.
A Third World Eye Care Society mission completed
vision screening of the 500 students at an
elementary school of Tacloban, in the Philippines,
in January 2014, two months after the country’s deadliest typhoon had killed over 8,000 people,
including eight teachers at the school
Third World Eye Care Society President, Dr. Marina Roma-May, with a girl in a small town in the
foothills  of the Andes of Peru, with a big grin
because her new glasses, bringing the gift of
vision, were in her favourite colour
Flanking Third World Eye Care Society President, Optometrist and Rotarian, Dr. Marina Roma-May, are
Rotary District 5040 conference 2020 chair Tom Smith (left) and District Governor 2019-20 Bala
Naidoo (right) in front of collection boxes which resulted in 5,294 used eyeglasses from 50 Rotary
clubs and their communities of BC
While the 50 Rotary clubs of District 5040 (, including Ladner Rotary, had to cancel their late April annual conference in Vancouver because of pandemic restrictions, they continued with their pledge to raise 2020 used eyeglasses for TWECS by the time of the “2020 Vision Conference”. From Greater Vancouver up the coast to Prince Rupert, the Rotary clubs and eight Rotaract clubs (young professionals and post-secondary students of age 18 to 30) rallied and far exceeded their goal with a final collection of 5,294 eyeglasses.
Thanks to Bandstra Transportation, which shipped collections from northern Rotary clubs to their Richmond terminal free of charge, the TWECS warehouse in Burnaby now has the entire collection. There the eyeglasses are sorted for reading or distance focus. Next, a local prison, with equipment loaned by TWECS, determines the magnification strength of each pair, labels and packages it for return to TWECS. 
Dr. Roma-March, a Rotarian herself, will be taking the collected eyeglasses on her team’s next mission to a developing country, where, because of poverty or lack of availability of eye care services, individuals are unable to obtain eyeglasses and primary eye care. Over 25 years TWECS has led missions to countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Malawi, Nepal and the Philippines.  
Dr. Roma-March says: “As our teams travel to the corners of the world we come face to face with thousands of children whose bright futures were brought to a standstill, stopped dead by poor vision, bound at home unable to read. It is heartbreaking to meet so many children whose lives have been crippled with missed opportunities for education and employment because of the lack of eyeglasses. We are so grateful to our Rotary District 5040 clubs and their communities for this recent donation of used eyeglasses.”