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The AdSpecs have arrived!

posted Feb 4, 2010, 7:55 AM by Reinoud Vaandrager
One of the projects I'm running in Cameroon is the AdSpecs project to distribute adaptive eyewear to people that don't have access to an optician and/or lack the funding to have prescription eyewear made for them. Google was so kind to donate $5000 to the "Center for vision in the developing world" to provide us with a batch of these glasses for use in Cameroon.

Two days ago we got a call from the DHL Bamenda office to let us know the shipment of 220 AdSpecs (adaptive eyeglasses) had arrived from the UK. So yesterday Joshua made the trip to Bamenda to pick them up (3 boxes in total).

yay! the AdSpecs are here!

Of course things go that easy in Africa (and especially Cameroon). At the DHL Bamenda office there was a 'customs officer' what wanted to see some money before we could pick up our delivery. And even though this shipment of glasses was specified as a charity shipment with a value of exactly 1$ between two non-profits the customs officer would have none of it. We where a bit afraid that the shipment would have included the true value of the shipment (which is around 4500$) and that the customs officer might claim a 7% stake (to put in their back pocket). Finally we got away with paying a 15.000 CFA 'donation' (read bribe) to take our glasses home. 15.000 CFA is only around 23 Euros, but it is also 2 weeks of salary for the average Cameroonian.

Here in Cameroon they have a saying "No food for lazy man", but it turns out that corruption is the order of the day, and lazy people can get food easily when they are in a position of power. For example the police (or military) likes to set up roadblock along the road from Belo to Bamenda. There is only one road and the trip is about an hour, but usually our taxi is stopped around 4 times (one way) to pay 'toll' donations. Same thing with visa extensions, anything that needs signing and so on and so forth. So for the moment there is plenty food for lazy man in Cameroon.

Anyway, back to the eyecare project: We know have 245 AdSpecs (minus a couple we gave away to clients), so we are ramping up our eye-consultation and distribution efforts over the week. Today Sebastine, our field assistant went around to schools and churches to hand out flyers to create awareness of our project, so the hope is that we will have plenty of clients during our consultation hours next wednesday.

 Another happy customer :)
 Hillary (an) albino, has no pigment in his eyes and they were severely damaged by sunlight.