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 Eyeglass Assist

Solomon Islands Project

2018

Title: West of Bora Bora


Location : Maupiti Island, French Polynesia


Year : 2013


After being given an extension of our visas in French Polynesia to allow us to conduct further vision screening sessions we anchored in the lagoon at Maupiti and after a discussion with the guy at the fuel station (who was not young and didn't have glasses but needed them) who told us that the population of the island was around 1,000 people which would be our biggest undertaking to date. All things considered we decided it was a good place to conduct one of our programs. None of the small magazines (shops) had reading glasses for sale and after further conversations with locals we found that it was very difficult for them to procure glasses, so generally they managed without them.

After making arrangements with the town clerk and determining a time and place to conduct our session, we went for a bicycle ride around the island when we observed a Municipal Police Officer driving around in his official vehicle with a loud hailer announcing to the population about the proposed session the following day.

Was anyone going to turn up?  We would see. When taking our dingy to shore loaded with glasses the following morning we were surprized to see a sea of brightly-clothed people milling around the council building, so it seemed the message had well and truly got through.

We spent the next two days fitting spectacles to anyone on the island who needed them (over 300 pairs). Luckily we had the help of Rae and Pete from a New Zealand yacht, Saliander, but it still took the four of us and interpreters two full days to ensure everyone who needed them was fitted with glasses. In a short ceremony when we had finished we were told through an interpreter that it was the first time that any organization had come to the island and helped everyone that needed help. and as you can imagine the people were very happy and so were we.

Maupiti is a particularly beautiful island seated inside a stunning azure lagoon and is located only 30 miles west of Bora Bora but is very, very different from Bora Bora. Bora Bora, is a well renowned international destination with resorts owned by multi-national companies studding the motus around the edge of the reef. the locals see very little of the benefits, most of it being transferred offshore. The people of Maupiti had made the decision years previously not to go they down the same path. They had said no to the large amounts of money dangled in front of them and opted to remain low key, having only small family owned pensions (guest houses) for accommodation in order to retain their quality of life. Hats off to the people of Maupiti I say.



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