As part of my programme, students have the unique opportunity to travel to South Africa to work on the Phelophepa trains of hope, taking health care to some of the country’s most remote communities.
In a team of four, I worked with professional optometrists carrying out eye examinations and giving eye-care advice to children and adults in Delareyville in the country’s North West Province.
The night before I left I was literally thinking what am I doing? It was quite daunting, however, I chose to study optometry as I want a career that combines caring for people with science, so I was keen to go to help make a difference to people’s lives. People were so grateful for the care we were able to offer.
The most common problem we encountered was cataracts. In the UK that would be dealt with very quickly but we saw people whose conditions had grown so severe that they couldn’t even see light. With just a simple pair of glasses we were able to improve one patient’s vision so much that she was literally jumping up and down and giggling. In moments like that, you feel you have changed someone’s life.
It was a unique opportunity that I never thought I would have and the University staff give us so much support to make it possible. It’s a fantastic course that I feel lucky to be a part of. The staff are so approachable and the facilities are fantastic – I particularly enjoy working in the eye clinic. Sometimes people have no idea what I’m talking about when I tell them I’m studying optometry, but I’d recommend studying optometry at GCU to anyone. I love it.