It has been all systems go at The Mary Immaculate Hospital in Nyeri, Central Kenya, where Solio Lodge’s fifth annual eye clinic has been underway. A team of experienced Kenyan doctors from the UK based charity ‘Medical and Education Aid to Kenya’ (MEAK), with the help of our Solio Lodge staff, have been busy treating 1138 patients and performing exactly 100 life-changing surgeries for members of the local community.

‘The Safari Collection partners with MEAK for our fifth eye surgery mission’

As many as 320,000 Kenyans are living with blindness and over double this number with visual impairment. Yet in 80% of cases, people are suffering from a condition that is either preventable or curable. Sadly, treatment proves very challenging for most, as they live in rural areas with little or no access to health services, let alone qualified eye doctors. This is where The Safari Collection’s eye clinics come in.

Through advertisements on local radio stations and flyers in churches and shops, members of the local community have been able to see a qualified ophthalmologist and receive the help they need.  One patient tells the doctor…

‘I exhausted all my resources seeking treatment. It never worked, I had to go back home. It is a shame, I cannot earn my living because of poor eyesight. When I heard the announcement over the radio about this medical camp I told my wife: this is my last hope to recover my eyesight’ – Karugu Migwi

Karugu underwent surgery to remove his cataracts a few days ago. The procedure is a simple one and usually takes only 15 minutes: the lens inside the eye that has become cloudy is taken out and a small artificial lens inserted in its place. Once the bandages have been removed, vision is immediately much improved, with many patients gradually regaining close to full sight.

Aside from the immediate transformative impact that clinics such as this one at Solio have on local communities, they are also a vital tool in bringing local communities under the umbrella of conservation tourism by enabling them to experience first-hand some of the benefits it can have to local communities.

‘I can see like a little girl again! Let me go home and see my grandchildren for the first time’ – Jane Wanjiku

With Solio staff on-hand to help register patients and dispense medicines, people can begin to see how conservative tourism operations have an important purpose and how essential it is for them to support sustainability programmes to preserve Kenya’s precious wildlife areas for future generations.

Thank you to Susan Lowenberg, Joyce Newstat and Ruthie Newstat whose generosity made this entire project possible and for coming to volunteer during the week. Thank you to MEAK for mobilising their amazing team and volunteers and for all their hard work over the project.

Thank you to the staff of Solio Lodge for all their efforts to support the team and for volunteering during the project.

Thank you to Solio Ranch for their support on this and many other projects.

For any more information on how you can contribute or get involved with The Safari Collection’s programmes please contact us using sustainability@thesafaricollection.com.