KISANGANI, Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
- One hundred albino children received free photochromic eyeglasses from Hôpital du Cinquantenaire de Kisangani (HCK), the Gertler Family Foundation's (GFF) signature healthcare project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today. The eyeglass distribution ceremony is part of a multifaceted HCK project to help provide medical and other services to Kisangani's albino population.
With little or no pigment in their eyes, hair or skin, Congolese with albinism suffer from a multitude of health problems, including vision impairment. While many albino children walk, talk and otherwise physically develop at a normal rate, their inability to see properly severely encumbers their capacity to learn to read and write. Early intervention programs for albino children with vision and other problems are non-existent in the DRC.
"Not only is the cost of an eye examination and a pair of photochromic eyeglasses beyond the means of nearly all families with albino children, there is simply no place that provides these services in Kisangani," said Dr. Andre Hattingh, HCK Medical Director. "The corrective glasses HCK gave these 100 children today will change their lives forever."
In June, free vision screening conducted at HCK for albinos under the age of 18-years old, identified 100 children who needed corrective glasses. HCK hand delivered the screening results to Centre Ophtalmologique de Masina (COM) in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC. COM is one of only a few centers that produce photochromic eyeglasses in the country.
Famed Congolese wrestler and albino Mwimba Alphonse Texas, who founded the Mwimba Texas Foundation in 1998 to raise greater awareness about albinos, attended today's ceremony, helped distribute the glasses and thanked HCK and the GFF for their continued support.
Mr. Dan Gertler is a co-founder of the GFF. The DRC's leading foundation, the GFF is committed to helping meet the needs of vulnerable Congolese. Since its inception in 2004, the GFF has invested tens of millions of dollars in health, education, agriculture, emergency relief, infrastructure, culture and other projects across the DRC. The Fleurette Group, one of the largest private investment firms in the DRC, finances the GFF. For the past two years, the GFF has annually contributed US$1 million to HCK.
Visit http://www.gertlerfamilyfoundation.org to learn more about the GFF and HCK. Join us on Facebook: Gertler Family Foundation and Hôpital du Cinquantenaire de Kisangani, and follow us on Twitter @gffdrc.
SOURCE Gertler Family Foundation