The Gift of the Givers Foundation, in collaboration with the Caring Sisters Network (CSN) donated 25 Optometry kits worth R30 000 each to the UKZN Optometry Discipline to loan out to students who cannot afford to buy their own equipment.
The donation process initiated by Academic Leader in Optometry, Dr Naimah Ebrahim Khan, was a solution for equipment shortage due to the growing number of Optometry students over the years. Faced with students need for the kits, the Discipline put out a call to the community requesting assistance. ‘Students need this because we saw the difference between those who had the equipment to practise, resulting in them performing better than the students without,’ said Khan.
‘Gift of the Givers and CSN came out to visit. They saw the need and understood the type of equipment we needed which included the eye chart, trial case and frame, diagnostic set, occluder, pupillary distance ruler, prism bar and hard contact lenses. Their contribution went above and beyond monetary value as they also helped us source the best equipment and delivered it on to campus. We are beyond grateful!’ she added.
Gift of the Givers Operations Director, Mr Muhammad Rayhaan Sooliman, said: ‘We are excited to be part of this, simply because part of what we do is taking care of immediate needs but also making sure that there’s a plan going forward’. He refers to the donation as the starting point of an exciting partnership between CSN and the Discipline and sets the tone going forward.
CSN and Islamic Medical Association (IMA) Durban Chairperson, Dr Yasiera Mahomed Suliman, said she was aware of the students’ needs as she also assists UKZN by availing the IMA clinics as training spaces for students. Being in the field, she said it was impossible for students to train without this equipment which is why she decided to lend a helping hand.
Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, Gift of the Givers Founder, remarked on how his family has a special attachment to the University - having also studied there. He said: ‘We need to give back to where we come from because to build this country, we have to help those children who aren’t progressing because of a lack of opportunity so that they can change their lives. There’s only one way to fix this country, and that’s if we work together as one to make it better.’
He also noted some of the projects his foundation has been involved in, including their R3 million donation to UKZN’s Medical Student Fund which supports up-and-coming doctors with historical debt - a project founded by the Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, Professor Ncoza Dlova.
Dean and Head of School of Health Sciences, Professor Khathutshelo Percy Mashige, commented on how students in the Discipline have been battling to get the basic equipment required to do their training. ‘I’m over the moon that the Gift of the Givers and CSN have been able to assist in such a swift turnaround time. Without the basic equipment, students are unable to gain the requisite skills needed to go out there as competent clinicians and service the community. We thank you, as this will go a long way in assisting our students with their training’, said Mashige.