For this year’s ‘67-minutes of Service’ for Mandela Day, Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) in collaboration with the International Centre for Eye care Education (ICEE) and the eThekwini Health District ran a “Sinelungelo Lokubona” campaign (meaning “We have a Right to Sight” in isiZulu) on the 3rd of August. On this day, almost 200 street traders from Isipingo tested their eye sight for free, which included the opportunity to get tested for diabetes, hypertension and HIV. Those with near eye sight problems were given reading glasses, with up to 78 reading glasses being dispensed, while more complicated cases were referred to relevant hospitals.
Last year’s ‘67-minutes of Service’ coincided with the World Sight Day and escalated into a 5 hour event where 411 street traders from the Warwick Junction community received eye tests, and 250 of whom were equipped with reading glasses. However, this year’s event was remarkably unique for a number of reasons.
Firstly, we operated from an area in which AeT is not established. However, there was still immense receptivity from informal traders keen to get their eyes tested. Secondly, excessive police enforcement of the street traders operating in Isipingo definitely affected the attendance levels. During the community call sessions by the AeT team, many traders expressed that they could only attend after the threat of the police presence diminished, in fear of the possible confiscation of their goods. It was thus apparent that there are antagonistic and degraded relations between the police officials and traders in the area.
Beyond this volatile dynamic, this year’s “Right to Sight” campaign was a much more substantial service than last year due to the additional health tests attached to the eye tests. This was evident in the 7 hours of services rendered to a steady stream of traders coming in, even after we packed up; and in the feedback from some of the traders as captured below:
She added that if this service is done in future, it would help the traders to get invitations earlier so that they can plan accordingly in terms of leaving the business for the duration and spreading the word to other people in their communities.