Life in Focus

Good vision changes lives. Being able to see is a vital gateway to education, work and building a better future. These opportunities can have a dramatic, lasting impact on the individual, their family and even the generations that follow.

The first episode in our new Life in Focus series tells the story of Felicien Senzoga.

Felicien Senzoga

Home: Kagugu, Kigali, Rwanda
Work: Tailor at the UTEXRWA textile factory
Family Status: Married with 5 children

Focus:

The importance of good vision in the workplace

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For many types of work, good vision is vital. Whether it’s skilled tasks that require good hand-eye coordination, office work that involves reading and writing, or manual work that demands speed and precision – if your vision is poor, your work is likely to suffer. Felicien experienced this first hand in his work as a tailor.

Felicien had been working at the same factory for years when one day he noticed that he was struggling to thread the needle. He was straining to focus and started getting headaches. The problem got steadily worse over the next two years and left him struggling to do his job. During this time, Felicien did not seek treatment – he did not think his problem was that serious – but before long his job was at risk.

Felicien's Story

Felicien and his wife have 5 children. He is the only source of income for the family. He left school to train as a tailor and has worked in the same textile factory ever since. He works 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, sewing one item at a time – a button, a sleeve, a collar – before passing it onto a colleague. Good vision is vital for Felicien’s intricate work.

A few years ago, Felicien noticed he was struggling to see clearly when threading a needle, something he does dozens of time every day. His vision was getting worse and starting to affect his work.

“I was worried because I was not performing properly at work. It would take 20 minutes to do what previously took me 7 minutes,”

Felicien was worried. He knew that if his vision kept getting worse he would lose his job. One day, a team of nurses visited the factory and offered eye exams to workers over 40, as near vision often starts to deteriorate at around this age.

“They asked me what my vision problem was and I explained it to them. Then they did the test and gave me this paper (a prescription for glasses)… but then they also gave me the glasses at the same time, for free!”

With his new glasses, Felicien can thread the needle perfectly again. He is back working at top speed – good news for him and his employer! Now confident that his job is secure once more, Felicien has high hopes for his family. Like every parent, he wants his children to be self-sufficient and to see them follow their dreams.

“If my kids are able to study, they can even go farther than I have gone. They will be able to have a better life, and to provide for themselves.”

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Felicien’s story was made possible by the brilliant work of Vision for a Nation. Their award-winning programme has ensured that every single person in Rwanda has access to local, affordable eye care. Find out more 

Good vision can change lives and boost the global economy

Felicien’s situation is not unique. But while he received the care he needed just in time, many others are not so fortunate. The impact of poor vision can be both immediate and long-lasting, and creates situations that can affect a whole family’s future. If Felicien had lost his job, his children would almost certainly have had to leave school early to find work, damaging their education and limiting their opportunities in later life.

Beyond the effects on the individual, the impact of people living with uncorrected vision is also felt on the global economy. An estimated $1.6 trillion is lost every year, simply because people are not getting the glasses they need – and with 90% of those cases in the developing world, the inequality in access to vision correction plays a damaging role in sustaining the cycle of poverty.

It would cost $28 billion to fix this supply problem – 57 times less than the annual losses! Billions of lives would be transformed in the process. But restoring someone’s sight can also change the lives of their family and the generations that follow. Good vision sparks a chain reaction that can improve social integration, personal empowerment, opportunity, literacy, education, poverty, inequality – and the global economy, too.

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