Purchase of Equipment, Expansion of Services and Support for Shipping Expenses for a Mission Eye Clinic in Remote Sierra Leone, West Africa

Project location: SIERRA LEONE, Serabu
Project start date: November 2011 - Project end date: December 2012
Project number: 2011-57
Beneficiary: SMOM


This project received a grant from the NPF and will be implemented by the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, through a partnership ruled by a Grant Agreement between the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St.John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta and the Southern Eye Institute. The goal of the project is to support an ophthalmological clinic in Sierra Leone, the Southern Eye Institute, that was organized to provide modern eye care services in underserved areas of Africa.

This project will address three clinic issues:
1. expand public access to clinic services
2. increase the availability of basic medicines
3. pay for ongoing shipping expenses of the clinic

The Sovereign Order of Malta
The Order of Malta has a history of almost nine centuries and is the sole successor to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, recognized by the Catholic Church in 1113. As a subject of international public law, the Order has always been recognised as sovereign. It has diplomatic relations with over 100 States, including the Holy See and the Italian Republic, 18 official representations to international organisations, and permanent observer status to the UN, the European Union and UNESCO. The Order's humanitarian activities are carried out by 6 Priories, 6 Grand Priories and 47 National Associations in six continents, with hospitals, medical centres, dispensaries, relief corps, foundations in 120 countries. Its 12,500 members and 80,000 permanent volunteers, backed by 20,000 doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and volunteers, devote themselves to serving the poor, the sick and those who suffer and to the defence of the faith.

The Southern Eye Insitute
Southern Eye Institute was organized to provide modern eye care services in underserved areas of Africa. SEI's Medical Director, Dr. Cathy Schanzer and Executive Director, Tom Lewis (also husband), have been travelling to Africa on eye care mission trips since 1988. Dr. Schanzer has performed many thousands of eye surgeries since 1985 and is also the Medical Director of Southern Eye Associates of Memphis Tennessee. In 2006, Dr. Schanzer and Mr. Lewis, through Southern Eye Institute, opened a permanent eye clinic in a remote area of Sierra Leone as their part of a joint effort with Catholic Missions. Catholic Missions has provided land for the clinic and Southern Eye Institute has built the clinic, staffed it, equipped it and is responsible for all the day-to-day operating expenses. This eye clinic, with 17 employees, is open year-round, providing free medicines, free examinations, free eye glasses and free eye surgery to the needy people of this area of West, Africa.
Dr. Schanzer and Mr. Lewis travel there each January and June to perform 200+ eye surgeries each trip. Most of the surgery performed is cataract surgery which is the number one cause of blindness in third world countries. The name of this clinic is Southern Eye Clinic and it is located in the village Serabu. Recent data suggests that patients travel to Serabu for eye surgery from all over Sierra Leone as well as from five nearby nations: Liberia, Senegal, Guinea, Ghana and Nigeria. Annually, this clinic performs 500+ eye surgeries and treats 7500+ patients, making it one of the largest eye care programs in Sierra Leone. Southern Eye institute is supported financially by private outside donors and Southern Eye Associates of Memphis, TN.

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