Port-au-prince, HAITI– The Salvation Army Haiti hopes to partner with Visual Compassion to bring glasses and jobs to vulnerable populations in Port-au-Prince and southern Haiti.
“The Salvation Army’s greatest asset is its infrastructure,” said Visual Compassion founder and CEO Joey Dollack. He hopes to tap into that infrastructure to deliver prescription eyeglasses to children and adults in communities the Army serves. Through a laboratory with trained technicians in Port-au-Prince and screening stations throughout the city and into southern Haiti, the partnership could create much-needed jobs both in the capital and rural areas as well as addressing a widespread need for affordable eye care.
At a cost of just $10 US per pair of glasses, this sustainable project, “would be a good ministry for The Salvation Army,” said Major Lamartiniere, Divisional Commander of TSA Haiti. Most glasses are currently imported from Miami, so the markup can be steep. Getting the raw materials in-country and training a local labor force to edge lenses and fill prescriptions while maintaining minimal overhead would not only create jobs and make eye care accessible to many who could not otherwise afford it, but also bolster the local economy.
Dollack was able to visit Salvation Army operations in Delmas 2 and Fond des Negres during a two-day visit to Haiti, and is excited at the possibility of partnering with the Army in Haiti. He has seen this program transform lives in the States and is excited to see it work in Haiti. “When you have an opportunity to serve those who have less than you, you are looking through the eyes of Christ,” said Dollack, even if it’s something as simple as giving an eye exam to someone in need of glasses.
Visual Compassion has an existing relationship with the The Salvation Army in Houston, Texas and works with people in its recovery ministries to provide jobs through vision centers. The Houston program creates an average of 10 jobs in a year and is self-sustaining. Dollack has been able to use components of this program to improve the quality of life for people in Africa, South America and Haiti on short term trips and now hopes to have a long-term impact. Partnering with The Salvation Army in Haiti will be Visual Compassion’s first opportunity to set up a lab outside of the United States.
For more information on Visual Compassion, visit www.infocusonline.org.
To view the 2011 annual report for The Salvation Army in Haiti click here.