Glasses collected in Wanneroo changing lives Myanmar


Kim Turner from Specsavers Wanneroo with Debbie Singh and Neil Cook from Rotary Club of Wanneroo. Picture: Martin Kennealey d471610
Debbie Singh with Shin Shin Han.
Kim Turner from Specsavers Wanneroo with Debbie Singh and Neil Cook from Rotary Club of Wanneroo. Picture: Martin Kennealey d471610

GLASSES collected in Wanneroo are changing the lives of underprivileged people in Myanmar.

Sinagra resident and Rotary Club of Wanneroo member Debbie Singh travels to Thailand a couple of times a year to deliver spectacles to those in need through a partnership with the Burma Children Medical Fund.

Glasses are donated via Specsavers Wanneroo and the club also distributes wheelchairs made by Wangara-based Wheelchairs for Kids.

“It’s just changing so many lives. There’s never enough,” she said.

Ms Singh travels to the fund’s clinic in the Mae Sot district, Thailand, which provides free health services for Burmese refugees, then crosses the border to Myanmar and visits remote villages with fellow volunteers to deliver the glasses and wheelchairs.

“It is a life changing moment for a person to receive the spectacles enabling them to read, write and work just to mention a few things,” she said.

“I think a lot of people, they’re so happy but they’re so overwhelmed by being able to pick up something and read it.

“It’s so satisfying and makes the reason for doing these things… so worthwhile.”

The partnership with Specsavers Wanneroo came after Ms Singh mentioned her work to owner Kim Turner, who wanted to help.

They have collected more than 3000 pairs of glasses over the past few years, and the Warwick store now also takes part.

The rotary club purchased a spectacles grading machine, with member Neil Cook devoting many hours every week to grade lenses and print a corresponding script.

Wheelchairs for Kids’ fifth container of more than 150 wheelchairs arrived in Thailand this month and the next is due in November, which Ms Singh will accompany with several suitcases full of glasses.

Her last visit in February saw wheelchairs delivered to children aged from three to 16 and she said it was always a “massive event” when the truck arrived in a village.

The wheelchairs are colourful and come with a teddy bear and blanket, which is knitted by Mercy Place Edgewater residents.

“Every time is overwhelming,” she said.

“A lot of kids can go to school as now they have a wheelchair.

“Even the kids you see have mental and physical ailments have smiles on their faces… the biggest smile you could ever see.”

While Ms Singh has many treasured memories, she still fondly remembers the first wheelchair she delivered in 2013 to now nine-year-old Nyein Shin Shin Han.

She keeps in touch and follows Shin Shin’s progress, with the child now able to walk with a stick and special shoes.

Ms Singh said previously there was “no way in the world” Shin Shin could have attended school but now she hopes to be a doctor.

“There’s no free medical services in (Myanmar),” she said.

“(The fund is) the only form of medical help they can have.”

She loves the experience and eagerly anticipates her next trip.

“The reaction is usually overwhelming,” she said.

“Being a link in a very long chain of folk doing good things in the community at home and overseas gives me a sense of pride.”

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