Werner Fourie, an optometrist, established a nonprofit which launched affordable eye-care for lower-income communities, helping a woman read her Bible for the first time in decades!
Paarl, South Africa – Eight years ago, Werner Fourie, a successful optometrist, established a nonprofit organisation called Project Cat-Eye to help people who couldn’t afford eyecare.
While assisting an elderly lady in testing her eyes and giving her new glasses, he asked her what she was excited about most, now that she would be able to see properly again.
Her answer was: “I cannot wait to read my Bible again for the first time in 30 or 40 years. Today has changed my life forever.”
This re-ignited the fire in Werner and his team to work on a sustainable solution that could help people get optometry services accessible and more affordable.
On Mandela Day, 18 July 2019, Project Cat-Eye launched their very first innovative VisionBox community optometry practice in Mbekweni, Paarl. By implementing a unique business model and partnering with key organisations, they are offering glasses to underprivileged community members at a reduced cost of more than 80%. Eye tests will initially be R50 per person, but the idea is to make this free of charge by sourcing funding. The centre will also be managed and owned by an optometrist from disadvantaged backgrounds to create job opportunities.
“Unfortunately, optometry is too expensive for most South Africans with nearly impossible access. Less than 8% of optometrists are trying to serve 80% of the population. We are on a mission to create a more sustainable model that can be rolled out all over the country,” says Werner Fourie, Owner of Bril Optometrists and founder of VisionBox.
The implementation of VisionBox was made possible by partnering with various local organisations like Val de Vie Foundation, Ranyaka Community Transformation and Inceba Trust. Valcare is proud to be the Social Investment partner who will oversee the sustainability, monitoring and evaluation of the project.
The bright yellow modern container box practice is located right next to the Inceba Trust Early Childhood Development Hub where VisionBox will play a critical role in offering affordable, or often free, eye test and affordable glasses to young children.
Val de Vie Foundation, who made a significant financial contribution towards the establishments of VisionBox, has also committed to providing 79 pairs of glasses to the first underprivileged clients.
“It is encouraging to see innovative new ideas that can radically improve the quality of life for hundreds of people. By offering someone the gift of sight, opens up a world of opportunities for them…who knows how their life will unfold,” says Ivan Swartz, CEO of Valcare.