Thailand Glasses Project
THAILAND EYE GLASSES PROJECT GRANT (District 3360 as lead) and Districts in US (USA Lower South Carolina: District 7770 and USA New Hampshire/Vermont Area: District 7870)
Starting in 2009 Rotarians in Chiang Mai began an eye glass project to give reading glasses to the poor older adults in outlying areas of their district.  The project was begun by the Chiang Mai North and Chiang Mai South Club.  The project has been continued to date by the Chiang Mai South Club.
A 2012-2013 Significant Achievement Award from RI was given to the Chiang Mai South Club for its work that Rotary year.   Rotarians from this club spend 2 or more weekends each month driving to rural areas, camping overnight as needed, and given basic eye exams to seniors who would otherwise have no recourse for improved vision through basic glasses.  Given the simple exam equipment, the Rotarians have now to examine eyes and time needed to make frames they can only average 100 frames a day in 6 – 7 hours of work.  That assumes there are 5 -6 club members working or more…. which out of a club of 20, has 5 or more at each site.  Truly amazing continued dedication for service is shown by this club. Many times the club members stay longer and will try to do as many as 150 or more in areas far from Chiang Mai since driving on dirt roads to remote areas in time consuming in itself.
The frames are made by Rotarians on site from welding wire and then lenses donated by other groups are fitted into these frames.  Sometimes, the frames are made by disabled adults who are paid for their work on contract basis.  As of June 2013, almost 8,000 pairs of glasses have been given to needy Thais.  Some lenses came from a Lions club in the US and some came later from Australian Rotarians.
While these basic eye exams cannot take care of more sever eye issues such as the need for bifocals, refracted lenses, or eye surgery matters, they do provide improvement for many.  Now the club wants to expand and improve their project by getting a more precise eye exam machine to use and by having eye glasses available in some needy schools for children that cannot perform due to poor eyesight.   This will take more funding than this club or even several  clubs in Thailand can manage. 
Through a Friendship Exchange Project between District 7770 in lower South Carolina and northern Thai district 3360, it was determined that expansion of the eye glass project for the needy might make a good Rotary International Grant.  Global Grants from RI must now be a minimum of $30,000.  This means RI will donate $15,000 of local districts can combine efforts to get the other $15,000.
This project speaks to needs of health and wellness, literacy and education, and  child health…..all areas of focus in the new Rotary Global Grant arena.  The Chiang Mai South club has already proven their ability to sustain the project over 5 years and now needs our Rotarian help in widening their service efforts.
Details for the budget of this grant and the writing of it are now in progress.  The Chiang Mai South Club would like to have either a Nixon Retinoimax eye examination machine or a similar piece of equipment.  This would greatly increase the number of eye exams that can be done on a given day.  At present one of the Chiang Mai South club members, who is a pharmacy student at Chiang Mai University, has received training to be a volunteer eye examiner.   He does not try to prescribe medicines, make prescriptions for refracted frames, or give medical advice.  He simply is using magnifying lenses on the eye examination to obtain a suitable reading glass level lens for the senior citizens who otherwise would have no eye care or a resource to buy frames. 
While the Chiang Mai South Club has sustained this project and grown it despite limited funds and a small membership, they hope other clubs in their district and surrounding districts will join in the cause.  Through this joint effort of many Thai clubs and American ones, better vision will be obtainable for older adults and school children.
Points of contact for this project are:
USA New Hampshire/Vermont Area: District 7870
Tom Westheimer
Peterborough (NH  03458) Rotary
Thailand Chiang Mai Area: District 3360
Kittipop Polsa | CEO
Liberty Abroad Exchange | LAE | THE WORLD IS CONNECTED
Chiang Mai 50200 Thailand
USA South Carolina Area: District 7770
Harriett Hilton
Beaufort, SC 29907